When it comes to getting my home ready for winter, I read lots of winterizing articles, but find I take very little action.
Well, as a newer homeowner, I find most of the advice to be intimidating, labor-intensive and time-consuming.
So as I prepare for winter I’m focusing on three quick, cost-effective actions that any homeowner can tackle to get a house ready for the long, cold winter:
1: Seal window trim and other decorative exposed wood
Total time: 3 hours
Total cost: Free (I had leftover paint!)
The paint is starting to chip and peel on my exterior window sills, window frames and even some decorative fence posts, leaving the wood exposed and susceptible to rot and damage.
My fix: Just scrape up the weathered paint and brush on a moisture-locking one. It’s that easy.
2: Prevent ice dams
Total time: 2 hours
Total cost: $120
Preventing ice dams might be my most important tip of all (I learned this the hard way last year). When the snow on your roof melts, it needs a clear path to trickle out through your gutters or it will sit in your gutters and refreeze. These ice dams add a lot of weight to your house that can damage your interior walls. Even worse, water can back up and leak through your roof into your house. I experienced both problems last winter.
My fix: First, clean out the gutters after the last leaf drops and the first snowflake flies. Then, install gutter guards. There are lots of options and things can get pricey, but I went with a mid-priced product with good reviews.
(Quick reminder: safety first! If you don’t have the right ladders or equipment or are simply afraid of heights, find a licensed and insured handyman or landscaper to clean your gutters and install your guards. My guess is you’ll get at least one gutter-cleaning coupon in the mail before winter hits.)
3: Tune-up your furnace
Total time: 10 minutes
Total cost: $15
I have a very old furnace that I’m trying to squeeze the last bit of life out of. In fact, it’s legally old enough to run for President. That means I need to double-down on precautionary maintenance.
It’s always recommended to change furnace filters at least every two to three months to remove any dust, pet dander or other particles that can clog your furnace. When your furnace is dirty, it has to work harder, and that means it will cost more to run and likely wear out sooner.
My fix: Stock up on filters and change it every two to three months as needed. (I told you anyone could follow these tips.)
Remove snow from your deck and the sides of your house
Total time: 30 minutes once every two weeks
Total cost: Free
Obviously, you’ll have to wait until it actually starts snowing to take action, but if snow tends to pile up at the base of your house, move it away from your home. When it melts, that snow needs to head somewhere, and sometimes that can mean your basement. Or if excess snow sits on your deck, the melt can cause mold come springtime.
Of course, every house’s winterization needs are different so yours could be a bit more expensive or time-consuming than mine. But there are almost always small steps you can take now that can prevent big problems later.