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Winterizing Your Home: A Winter Readiness Guide

How Do I Winterize My House? 

As fall turns to winter, you might be wondering how to winterize your house. Home winterization is an often overlooked part of home ownership. Here are some steps you can take to get your house prepared for the winter from top to bottom. 

How Do I Winterize My Roof? 

Winterizing your roof is a relatively easy process, but it’s an important one. While clogged gutters and ice dams are the two biggest culprits of winter leaks, other issues can be caused by the winter weather. 

Follow these steps to ensure that your roof is ready for ice and snow.

Step 1 – Inspect Your Roof

Conduct a visual inspection of your roof. Look for black streaks, missing shingles,  or any other signs that your roof could need repairs. If your roof does need repairs, don’t postpone them until spring.  Leaks that freeze can cause additional damage to your roof and home. 

Step 2 – Clean Gutters and Downspouts

Clear your gutters and downspouts of leaves, pine needles, acorns, or other debris that might collect in your gutter. If you aren’t comfortable on a ladder, hire someone to help you. Keeping your gutters clean is an essential part of preventing ice damming in the winter. Ice dams can cause damage to your roof and home.

Step 3 – Trim Overhanging Branches

Keeping branches away from your house is essential in the winter. Overhanging branches make great paths for pests, such as squirrels, who may try to enter your attic. Worse, heavy snow and ice can bring down large branches that could damage your roof. 

Step 4 – Check for Leaks

Look for water stains, mold, or mildew in your attic or on your ceiling. If you find any issues, contact a roofing company to assess the damage and make any repairs. 

Step 5  – Remove Snow (Carefully)

If you have a lot of snow, you may want to consider removing it. Southeastern PA isn’t known for feet of snow, but a heavy build-up of snow on your roof can add unneeded weight to your home. 

How Do I Winterize My Attic? 

You may not think of your attic as a place that needs to be winterized, but your attic is a likely culprit if you experience ice damming or if your energy bills are high.  

Before the winter months, check your attic for signs of moisture, mold, or mildew that might signify a roof leak. 

Then, make sure you have adequate insulation.  Energy Star goes into more detail on how to check your insulation levels, but for a simple test, take a look around your attic. If your insulation is at or below the joists, you need more insulation.

How Do I Winterize My Windows and Doors?

Windows and Doors are the most commonly winterized areas of the home. And for good reason. Besides the attic, most of our energy is lost through windows and doors. Winterizing your windows and doors can be a cost savings as well as a winter necessity. 

Step 1 – Check for Drafts

Inspect your windows for any drafts or air leaks. You can use a candle or an incense stick to detect drafts. Move the flame or smoke around the window edges, and if there is a draft, you will see the flame flicker or the smoke waver.

Step 2 – Apply Weather Stripping

You can use weather stripping to seal gaps around your windows. Self-adhesive weather stripping is easy to install and helps prevent cold air from entering your home. 

Step 3 – Use Window Insulation Film

Available at most hardware stores, window insulation film is a thin, transparent plastic sheet that you can apply to the interior of your windows and shrink with a hair dryer. 

Step 4 – Hang Thermal Curtains

If you don’t mind blocking off what little sunlight you get in the winter, thermal curtains are designed especially to provide insulation. 

Step 5 – Caulk Around Windows

Check the caulk around your windows and reseal any cracks or gaps. Use a good-quality caulking material to ensure a proper seal. 

Upgrade Your Windows

If you’re still struggling to winterize your windows, consider upgrading your windows to a double or triple-pane window that’s more energy-efficient without the headaches of winterizing. 

How Do I Winterize My Siding?

Your siding needs regular maintenance as well. Siding can become brittle in harsh weather, making it essential that you repair any damage before it begins to freeze.

Step 1 – Clean Your Siding

Before the first freeze in the fall, clean your siding to remove dirt, debris, and any mold. Read more about how to clean your siding safely. 

Step 2 – Inspect For Siding Damage

Look for cracks, holes, or loose siding panels where water, snow, or ice might get in. Address these areas promptly before they cause structural damage to your home. 

Step 3 – Seal Gaps and Cracks

Use caulk to seal any gaps or small cracks in your siding. Pay attention to areas around doors and windows. This not only prevents water from entering, but it also helps with insulation. 

Step 4 – Turn off outside water

Disconnect any garden hoses and turn off any water spigots that aren’t frost free. 

Consider Insulated Siding

If you have older siding, you may want to upgrade to insulated siding to help keep your home warmer. 

Winterizing Your House

By addressing these tasks, you can make your home more comfortable, energy-efficient, and resilient to the challenges that winter may bring. Regular maintenance and early preparations can go a long way in preventing issues and ensuring a cozy and safe living environment.

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