Not to go all Game of Thrones on you, but winter is coming. And, sort of like the series, we mean that in a slightly ominous way. Don’t get us wrong: we love a nice snowy day curled up by the fire enjoying a warm drink as much as the next person, but with those low temps and icy conditions come some potential hazards. Winter weather can be tough on homes, but we’ve got a checklist that will help you winterize your home now so you can have more snuggle time later.

We’ve shared some winter home protection tips on the PODS blog before, but now we’ve made those recommendations a workable resource that you can reference as you work your way through the list. To help build your confidence, we’ve started with projects for the home that are easier and progressed to the more difficult ones.

How do I winterize my home with this checklist?

Even if you’re not a seasoned DIY-er, this checklist can help you prepare your home for harsher winter conditions. This is especially important if you live in areas prone to freezing temperatures or if you have a second residence and will be leaving your home vacant for the season (I’m looking at you, snowbirds).

Most of the tasks are relatively simple and won’t take a lot of time. However, as we get to the more intricate items, you may want to consult a professional for assistance.

If you’re wondering how much time to set aside to complete the list, we recommend spacing it out over a few weeks or clearing out a weekend if you’re itching to tackle everything in a shorter time span.

A woman turning down her thermostat before going on vacation

At what temperature should you winterize your house?

It may be tempting to turn off your thermostat or reduce it to a very low heat setting when you’re away, especially if you’re going to be out of your home for an extended period of time. This strategy, however, will likely do more harm than good.

Low temperatures outside affect your home’s inside. If your heat isn’t running, your pipes could freeze and burst, causing a flood in your home. To help prevent this from happening, set your thermostat to at least 55°F.

If you’re concerned about high utility bills and want to maximize energy conservation efforts, consider investing in a smart thermostat. It’ll learn your living habits, drop the temperature when you’re not home, and then raise it accordingly, so your home is comfortable and efficient.

Looking for other ways to conserve energy in your home? Our blog has recommendations that range from small adjustments to major renovations.

How do I winterize my property?

Time to start prepping your home inside and out. Here’s your winter home maintenance checklist. 

INSIDE

  • Reverse your ceiling fans. Running your fans clockwise forces warm air down to the living areas, a natural way to generate some heat.
  • Replace the batteries and test your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors. Between the lack of natural air flow and increased use of heating systems, your home is more susceptible to fires and gas leaks. 
  • Check for leaks and drafts around windows and doors. Prevent heat from escaping your home by caulking, adding/replacing weatherstripping around windows and doors, and using draft guards.
  • Insulate your attic. If your home feels drafty, check your attic to make sure it’s properly insulated. You may even want to inject foam insulation into your walls for an extra layer of protection.
  • Drain your water heater. Sediment collects at the bottom of the tank, which can lead to damage and even system failure. Remove a little water once a year to flush this out.
  • Have your heating system professionally inspected. Before a snowstorm arrives, make sure your furnace is ready for the job by having it checked for maintenance and safety issues.
  • Check your chimney. If you use your fireplace, have your chimney cleaned by a chimney sweeping service. Look for cracks or damage and make repairs if needed.

OUTSIDE

  • Cover your grill. If it’s connected to a propane tank, it needs to be disconnected.
  • Clean up your deck and patio furniture. Bring cushions inside and cover the furniture with a tarp. For extra protection, you may want to store outdoor furniture and other items used during warmer seasons.
Q: What if I don’t have enough storage space for my grill and outdoor furniture?
A: Jack Frost can do some serious damage to these items, so if you live somewhere that gets a lot of snow and ice, you may want to move your things to a safe location instead of relying on a cover. You can protect your stuff by taking it to a traditional storage center, or you can have a PODS portable storage container delivered right to your driveway. From there, you can keep it on your property or at a local PODS Storage Center. Either way, storing your things away will help them last for years to come.
  • Do some yard work. The best time for winterizing a garden is after the first hard freeze. Remove weeds, put a new layer of mulch or fertilizer in flower beds, and complete any needed repairs so your garden will stay healthy until spring.
  • Declutter your gutters. Remove leaves and other debris so water can flow through your gutters. Blockages could lead to icicles and flooding.
Q: Wondering how to clean your gutters?
A: Place a sturdy ladder on level ground. Starting near a downspout, remove debris using a tool or your gloved hands. Clean the gutters and downspout strainer. Use a trowel or gutter scoop for compacted areas. Once the gutters are clear, rinse with a hose and check the downspout to ensure the water drains properly.
  • Do some tree trimming. No, not the holiday kind. Make sure there aren’t any large branches or dead trees posing a threat to your property. If there are, have them removed by a professional tree removal company.
  • Prevent pipes from freezing. Some tips for how to prevent frozen pipes, besides adjusting your thermostat, include insulating pipes near colder home areas and disconnecting any hoses from outside faucets.
  • Install storm windows and doors. Storm windows and doors add insulation and create a barrier against the cold. Putting in windows and doors may sound like a daunting task, but all it takes is a little work and some basic tools.

EMERGENCY PREPARATION

  • Stock up on snow-clearing supplies. Make sure you have a sturdy snow shovel, salt, and sand for removing snow from sidewalks and driveways. 
  • Make an emergency preparedness kit. This kit should include bottled water, non-perishable food, blankets, flashlights, first aid supplies, batteries, and anything else that’s necessary to keep your family healthy.
  • Purchase a backup generator. This will be handy if you live in an area that experiences winter power outages.
Someone cleaning leaves from their gutters

While this may seem like a long list, putting in a little effort before the winter season kicks into high gear can prevent costly repairs and headaches down the road. Stay safe and comfortable with these winter weather home preparation tips.


LB Gabriel is a freelance writer and frequent PODS blog contributor. When she’s not on a deadline, you can find her on a tennis court or golf course.

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