Top 10 Ways to Prepare Your Home for Winter

Despite how quickly 2020 has come and gone, it’s finally time to start thinking about getting your home ready for the winter again. Winterizing your home is not nearly as difficult or daunting as you might be anticipating; indeed, there are many things that you could do all year long to make it even easier for you in the future. From roof repairs to simple cleaning techniques, here are 10 ways that you can prepare your home for the winter.

1. Pressure Wash the Siding

Before the bad weather starts getting the worst of you, take one of the last sunny days to get your house’s siding super clean. If you don’t have your own pressure washer, consider renting one. You can go to big-box home supply stores like Lowe’s and Home Depot and rent their power equipment for a fee, but double-check to ensure that your local store has a power washer rental.

Here are three tips to make sure your siding gets as clean as possible:

  1. Use the appropriate pressure setting. Anything too low will not get the job done properly, whereas anything too high will strip the paint and leave you with bare patches on your siding. Make sure that you test the hose on a non-conspicuous area before going full blast on the house.
  2. Get under and in between the cracks as much as you can. If it’s been a minute since you’ve done this, then you will likely be shocked at the amount of gunk and dirt that will come flying out.
  3. Consider using a cleaning solution that is both eco-friendly and safe for your siding like Simple Green. The added cleanser will let debris slide off more easily, making your house sparkle.

2. Have The Roof Inspected

If you don’t remember the last time that you had roofing contractors check out your home, then it might be a good idea to call someone. Specialists recommend that you have your roof inspected once in the fall and once in the spring, or twice a year. Roofs caught in the beginnings of rot can be repaired quickly before mold and leaks become a problem, but if you leave your roof uninspected for years, then you could end up with a bigger issue than you realized.

Have a commercial roofing company visit your home to take a look at your roof’s condition. Some companies will give you quotes for free, while others will charge an estimation fee. Ask what kind of fees are involved when setting up your appointment, and expect to know answers to questions like:

  • How old is the home? The roof?
  • What kind of material is the roof made of?
  • What is the square footage of your house?

3. Clean the Gutters

Now that fall is officially in full swing, donuts to ten you’ve got some leafy debris in your gutters. Regularly clearing any debris from your gutters can prevent leaks, roof damage, and provide a better flow of excess rainwater after a storm.

While you’re having the roof inspected, consider asking your roofing service if they also provide gutter cleaning service. If they don’t, they likely have a business contact who can do it if you’d rather pay someone to take care of it for you.

4. Get Your Pipes Ready

Getting your pipes ready now for the influx of colder weather can save you a lot of time, money, and frustration later down the road. Wrap your internal and external pipes in thermal insulation foam to keep them warm even in freezing temperatures, and tighten them with premium hose clamps. You might also consider hiring professional plumbing services to ensure that all of your pipes are winter-ready and have no leaks.

Don’t forget about your hot water heater. It’s going to be working overtime during the colder months, so ask your plumber to take a look while they’re there. You shouldn’t be surprised if water heater repair is on the agenda, especially if you haven’t serviced the unit in a while. Remember, catching problems early makes them easier to maintain later on.

5. Have Your HVAC System Inspected

Although HVAC and plumbing systems are similar in some ways, they are also completely different certifications. This means that you likely cannot ask your plumber to look at your air conditioner, so do your research when looking for someone to service your HVAC system. Prices can vary depending on what you want done; for example, if you would like all of your air ducts cleaned out, this will likely cost much more than a standard “check-up.”

6. Service Your Appliances

We use things like our washing machines, dishwashers, and refrigerators so often that it’s easy to see how they can become neglected over time. If you’re noticing that your appliances aren’t running quite as solidly as they used to, that doors/hinges are tough to open, or something is making an odd noise, consider giving them a tune-up. Check out Youtube for a huge variety of tutorials, from car repairs to home appliances.

If that one stubborn appliance is refusing to work, regardless of the time and effort you’ve put into it, perhaps it’s time to cut your losses. Start looking for fall sales at appliance stores, or consider appliance financing if you don’t quite have the cash set aside yet. Better to take care of it now before something happens during the dead of winter!

6. Clean Your Appliances, Too

Likely you already do standard cleaning with your appliances like empty the dryer’s lint filter, clean up spills in the fridge, and wipe out excess gunk from the dishwasher — but how many times have you actually cleaned most of those appliances? Get your household appliances looking as good as you’ve now got them running. Here are some tips for getting your household appliances really, really clean:

  • Washing Machine: To disinfect the inside of your washing machine, toss in a few rags to provide scrubbing power. In the detergent slot, add one cup of baking soda and about a teaspoon of Dawn, and in the bleach slot, add in half a cup of bleach. Run a quick cycle on hot water (avoid the spin cycle to save energy).
  • Dryer: Unplug your appliance and pull it out from against the wall. Dust the entire unit, then unhook the dryer hose from the wall. See all that buildup? That’s a fire hazard just waiting to happen. Vacuum all the lint from the hose, the floor, and anything collected against the wall. Take the vacuum hose and also suck out anything excess from your dryer’s lint trap, and use a hook attachment to clean out the trap as well. To clean the drum, use a damp cloth and an all-purpose spray (Dawn, water, and vinegar in a spray bottle is a great DIY solution) to wipe it down.
  • Dishwasher: Pinterest will swear that you need to fill a glass measuring cup with vinegar, set it on the top tray, and run a cycle. Pinterest lies. To clean your dishwasher, you do need an empty unit and vinegar — but try pouring it directly at the bottom of the unit instead, or into the slot meant for finishing solution. Sprinkle about a cup of baking soda on the door or floor, then run a quick cycle with heated dry to completely disinfect the unit. Don’t forget also to clean out your dishwasher’s filter; it’s located on the bottom, by the spinning jets.

7. Seal Windows and Doors

A drafty home can mean that your windows and doors are not sealed properly. An easy way to test doors for improper stripping is to check if any light is filtering through the cracks. If it is, then you need to make repairs. Go through every door and window of your house and take notice of where cracks and unsealed doors are.

With a caulking gun and some good, weatherproof caulk, patch and repair all of the cracks around the windows and doors. It might surprise you to see how much of a difference this makes; the less warm air escaping from your home, the fewer drafts inside. If you see that your exterior doors need weather stripping, do that as well, especially if you live in a colder climate.

8. Get the Yard In Order

Even if fall leaves are an inevitable part of the season, getting your yard into tip-top shape before the first big frost will keep it looking relatively nice until spring comes again.

Some of the best ways to prepare your yard for winter include:

  • Sweeping/power washing any sidewalks, driveways, walkways, etc. Blast away any moss that has accumulated over the summer.
  • Trim any trees, bushes, and shrubs that are becoming unruly. This is also a great idea to protect you from potential windstorms this winter, and allows for fresh growth in the springtime.
  • Going through your flowerbeds and deadheading all of the sad, wilted plants. This simply means snipping the blossoms off of the plant, but try to do it at a place where the stem meets a pair of leaves to encourage healthy growth. Weed your beds, and spread fertilizer where needed.

9. Organize Inside

Prepping for winter doesn’t need to mean only outside. You can prepare for the coming winter by getting your home’s interior together as well.

There are plenty of ways to do this, but think about winter-specific organizing methods:

  • Recipes: The Season of Cooking is upon us. Do you have Grandma’s pumpkin bread recipe handy for when Thanksgiving rolls around? What about your sister’s family-famous meatballs for Christmas Eve? File your most oft-used winter recipes nearby so that you have them ready when the time comes.
  • Clothes and Sheets: Put away the summer shorts and tanks and pull out the sweaters and jeans. It’s also a full-stop flannel sheet season, so pull yours out of storage and make your bed the coziest place on earth.
  • Decor: Start dusting shelves and putting away the knick-knacks you can live without for the next few months to make room for new decor. Consider also hanging damage-free adhesive wall hooks like Command hooks for holiday lights and decor.

10. Disinfect

How many times has this word popped up in 2020? Regardless, flu season is a reality every winter, which means that disinfecting your house is just as important each year. Once you’ve done the surface cleaning like dusting and sweeping, you can start to really clean your home and kill any flu-causing bacteria.

Here are three of the sneakiest places that you might forget to be cleaning:

  • Toothbrush area: This doesn’t only mean wiping the bathroom counter, it means also cleaning your toothbrush holder, the surrounding walls, and yes, even your toothbrushes. Pop the non-battery-operated kind in the dishwasher along with your toothbrush cup, and wipe the whole area with an all-purpose cleaner and a cloth. A light coating of bleach solution will kill any lurking germs.
  • Towels: Laundering your towels with only laundry soap isn’t enough to get to the nasty sickness-causing bacteria inside. Run your towels on a quick cycle with baking soda and one teaspoon of Dawn in the detergent slot, vinegar in the bleach slot*, and the hottest water your towels can stand. You may choose not to run a spin cycle at this time, which is fine. After the initial hot water rinse, wash your towels again on a normal cycle with laundry detergent but not with fabric softener. Dry on high for 45 minutes to sterilize them.
  • Smaller Kitchen Items: When was the last time you washed your can opener? Your chip clips? Toss all of those smaller items into the dishwasher and wipe out your drawers. Don’t forget a little spritz of that bleach solution.

*NEVER mix bleach and vinegar, never ever. Only run vinegar in the bleach slot when you know that the bleach has been thoroughly rinsed clean of its previous load.

Owning a home brings a sense of pride in your investment, so make it show. Get your house as ready for winter as you can by following these ten tips. It’s not difficult, and you might find that you enjoy it more than you had thought — not to mention, the end result is so worth it.

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