Skip to Main Content
Back to Navigation

How to Winterize Your Home: A Winter Preparation Checklist

White house with snow on the ground

Winterizing your home can help you avoid any hazards that can happen during freezing weather. Cold, wet, icy months are unforgiving to your plumbing, roof, and gutters—not to mention your heating bill! So, this year, avoid the perils of winter by winterizing your home!

We've compiled this quick-and-easy checklist of DIY winterizing maintenance projects to help keep your house cozy and protected this winter. If you're wondering how to winterize a house, here are all the areas to check out.

1. Winterize Your Home’s Piping

A close-up of a man putting insulation around pipes in an attic

When preparing your home for winter, protecting your pipes is a crucial step. Learning how to winterize pipes in a house can prevent disaster, as a frozen and burst pipe can be an unpleasant and expensive surprise. Insulating exposed water pipes in your crawl space or garage will reduce the chance of freezing.

To winterize your pipes and house plumbing, you’ll need at least one of the following pipe insulation types, depending on your pipes and preference:

  • Foam Pipe Insulation
  • Tubular Pipe Wrap
  • Rolled Pipe Wrap

Foam pipe insulation comes in different diameters and can be cut down to length to fit your piping needs. You can also add foam pipe insulation around the joints since it's flexible and easy to work with. Split foam pipe insulation is typically the easiest to install, but all pipe insulation types are easy to use. Be sure to tape and wrap all joints to maximize efficiency.

2. Winterize Your Doors and Windows

Your doors and windows can be a significant source of heat loss in the winter. Cold air can creep in, and the warm air from your furnace can head right outside. When winterizing your home's windows and doors, your goal is to create a seal around them to prevent air leaks.

By winterizing your windows and doors, you’ll even see savings on your utility bills! It’s easy to get your doors and windows ready for winter with one of the following:

  • Door Sweeps
  • Weatherstripping
  • Caulk and Sealant
  • Window Insulation Kits

Sealing drafty windows and doors is a quick and easy DIY home project that will make a big difference in your home's comfort this winter. It's well worth the time and effort to stop those drafts and keep out the cold!

3. Winterize Your Attic

An open attic with insulation

Your attic is one of your home's biggest areas of heat loss. Heat rises, and without the proper insulation and protection, it can go right through the roof (and out of your home). So, when you're up in the attic to bring down the holiday decorations, take a quick look around the attic for any areas you need to winterize.

If the ceiling rafters are exposed in your attic, add more insulation. There are a few different types of insulation to consider. Batts and blankets are the most common types. They come in convenient rolls that you can cut to size.

Here are a few types of attic insulation:

  • Fiberglass Insulation
  • Cellulose Insulation

Loose-fill fiberglass and cellulose insulation use a blower to distribute insulation evenly throughout the attic. You can rent these blowers from your local hardware store. Don't forget to insulate the drop-down attic stairs!

Also, check out attic windows or other areas where drafts can enter. If you feel a breeze, remember that means air can also get out. Use caulk sealant to seal any holes and ensure the windows are airtight.

4. Winterize Your Thermostat

How happy are you with your home’s thermostat? Getting your home ready for winter means taking steps to ensure your temperatures are consistent. Ensure that the thermostat is working well and that it seems to keep your home at your preferred temperature. If you're looking for optimum savings on your utilities while staying comfortable, you should keep your thermostat between 65-68 F during the winter months.

It’s worthwhile to explore the newer thermostats on the market. Smart thermostats allow you to set up energy-efficient programming to ensure that your furnace doesn't work overtime. Not only are the sleek newer thermostats easy to read and set, but many are even programmable with Wi-Fi, allowing you to change your home's temperature from the convenience of your phone.

5. Winterize Your Home HVAC Appliances

Man replacing old HVAC air filter with a new one

Replacing your HVAC air filters every one to three months benefits your home and your family. It helps keep allergens down to a minimum while providing clean air to filter through your home. The fresher air is especially nice when cooped up in the house all winter.

As you winterize your home, you’ll want to have professionals service the furnace, boilers, chimneys, and other areas that need updates going into the colder months. Also, ensure your water heater is working well, and your other appliances are in optimum condition for winter.

Keep in mind that to work correctly, the area surrounding your appliances should be clear. For example, if you're storing things in your furnace closet or your basement, be sure that there's a several-foot radius of space around the appliance. Keeping your home appliances in optimal condition will improve efficiency and help you save money.

While checking the larger appliances in your home, remember to check all your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors. Test the alarms and check the batteries to ensure they're up to date and working well. Winterizing your home means putting safety first!

6. Winterize Your Gutters (and Check Out Your Roof)

Icicles hanging off the gutters of a yellow house

Icicles may look pretty hanging from your gutter, but they're among your home’s worst enemies. They can damage the roof and the gutters. During the warmer parts of the day, ice melts and pools behind hanging icicles. These ice dams can create serious problems for your roof, causing water to recess back up under your shingles. Eventually, that water can leak through your ceiling, causing damage to the roof and interior walls. Ice damming can indicate ventilation problems and other issues, so it's crucial you get it checked out by a professional.

As a homeowner, you can take a few steps to winterize your home's roof and gutter to help prevent the buildup of ice and moisture. As you prepare your home for winter, you'll want to clean and clear any debris from your home's gutters. Do a visual inspection of your roof, looking for cracks, missing or curling shingles, or any other damage. Make sure that the gutters are draining well, and remove any debris. You can use a gutter cleaning tool to make the job easier. Prevent further buildup by installing gutter and downspout screens.

If snow and ice buildup continues to be an issue, there are a few tools to help. Roof cables can help prevent ice buildup in gutters and downspouts. A snow roof rake can help you clear the snow from your roof, especially in vulnerable areas (like porch overhangs) where snow and ice buildup can lead to shingle damage.

7. Winterize Your Tools for Safety

Once you've taken steps to winterize your home for winter, ensure that you've stocked up on the tools, you'll need to stay safe and avoid winter injuries when you venture out into the icy weather. Buy a quality snow shovel before the first snowfall so you're prepared for whatever nature sends your way.

If you live in a snowier neck of the woods, be sure you have a snow blower or snow thrower tuned up and ready. Check the gas can to be sure you have enough fuel to keep the blower going during that first snowy day. Ice cleats keep you on your feet, and hand warmers keep your fingers from getting too chilly while you clear the snow.

It’s a good idea to stock up on ice melt and winter snow removal products for your driveway and car, like an ice scraper. Keep an emergency road kit in your vehicle and a small shovel for winter weather. Having a flashlight and batteries in your car and your home is also an excellent idea. Then, should the worst happen, you'll be safe and warm with the right tools.

No matter what Mother Nature throws your way this winter, stay prepared by taking steps to winterize your home and stock up on the tools you need to keep warm, safe, and cozy all winter long!

While do-it-yourself projects can be fun and fulfilling, there is always a potential for personal injury or property damage. We strongly suggest that any project beyond your abilities be left to licensed professionals such as electricians, plumbers, and carpenters. Any action you take upon the information on this website is strictly at your own risk, and we assume no responsibility or liability for the contents of this article.