As the weather starts to cool down, you may start winterizing your home. This is great as winterizing your home will keep it in tip top shape all winter long and also minimize the risk of costly repair bills later on.
Still, there are some common mistakes people make when winterizing their homes. Here are a few of the big ones you should try to avoid.
1. Not Starting Soon Enough
If you wait until the first time it snows to start winterizing your home, you have waited too long. Winterizing needs to be done before temperatures drop. This is because issues can start in your home the first time temperatures drop if it is not winterized.
Things like insulating pipes, checking on the heater and weatherstripping, and caulking doors and windows need to be done before it gets too cold out.
Winterizing can be looked at as preventative maintenance. It should not only be done in reaction to cold temperatures and snow.
2. Not Covering Outdoor Faucets
Freezing pipes is one of the biggest concerns many have ahead of the cold winter months, and for good reason. Plumbing issues are expensive when they occur and often require the help of professionals.
A leaking pipe can also damage the area surrounding it, so it is not just the pipe that needs to be fixed but also the nearby area.
One easy way to prevent issues with your outdoor pipes is to use faucet covers. Faucet covers are relatively inexpensive and prevent your outdoor faucets from freezing.
These faucets do not have the benefit of being exposed to the heat running through your home, which is why this is necessary.
3. Not Wrapping Pipes
The pipes in your home can also freeze, even if you have the heater running. To prevent them from freezing and bursting, you can wrap them with a warm towel if they are already starting to get cold.
The towels can be warm when you wrap the pipes, or you can wrap the pipes with towels and then pour hot water on top of them.
Make sure you check on your pipes regularly to make sure they are not getting too cold.
If you have more time and are trying to prevent the pipes from getting cold as opposed to dealing with pipes that are already cold, you could add more insulation to the area instead.
4. Not Using the Thermostat Correctly
During the coldest and hottest months of the year, you are more likely to be adjusting your thermostat quite regularly. Instead of doing it manually multiple times a day, though, you should instead make use of a time and other thermostat settings that are available on most modern thermostats.
You may want to use this, for example, to let the temperature drop a bit when no one will be at the house (not too low but there is no point in the house being 80 degrees Fahrenheit at times of day when no one is around).
Some thermostats can also have different settings for different rooms of the house. This is helpful in big homes. If, for example, no one is in the upstairs bedrooms other than sleeping hours, you do not need to have the heat on at full blast in that area of the house until nighttime.
5. Not Doing an Energy Audit
Before the coldest or hottest months of the year, you should consider doing a home energy audit. A lot of utility providers will do this for free.
An energy audit will allow you to better understand how efficient or inefficient your home is and what to do to make it more efficient. Some ways to make a home more efficient might be big, like getting a new HVAC system that you may not be willing to take on the expense of. Some, however, could be small, like adding some caulk around a window which has been found to be letting in a draft.
Do not do a home energy audit in the dead of winter. Instead, do it a few months beforehand. This will give you time to make necessary adjustments and improve your home.
6. Not Raking Your Yard
Raking and clearing your yard may be the last thing on your mind when preparing for winter, but you should take the time to rake your yard before the first snow of the year. Leaves decay over time, and leaving leaves in your yard all winter can result in mildew growth and an unattractive yard when the snow does finally melt.
7. Creating Good Conditions for Bugs
Bugs and other pests are something no one wants anywhere near their homes. One way you may be unknowingly creating conditions for bugs to thrive is by keeping wood close to the house.
Wood, especially when stacked, can be a great place for bugs to hide. They can even move from the wood to your home, infesting the area.
If you are going to store wood anywhere near your home, you should regularly spray it with bug repellent. You should also cover the wood with a tarp to prevent animals from having easy access to the wood.
8. Not Leaving Curtains Open During the Day
Closed curtains or blinds offer a lot of privacy. That doesn't, however, mean you should keep them closed all day every day.
On sunny days, you should leave your curtains open. This will allow your home to get some benefits of the sun's warm rays. This can also save you money on your heating bill because the heater won't have to work as hard to keep your home at your desired temperature.
Close the bids when the sun goes down, and remember to open them back up the next day.
9. Not Removing Icicles
While it isn't a fun task, you should remove icicles as they form. They can become quite dangerous if allowed to get to big and fall on your own. They can shatter a glass table or seriously injure someone if they fall in the wrong way.
Icicles can also be a sign of other issues, like water building up inside gutters or poor drainage. Removing icicles will allow you to determine if there is a bigger issue at play. It will also take some strain off of your roof. Just because individual icicles may not seem very large, having a lot of them can actually weigh on your roof, especially if left there for a long period of time.
10. Not Bringing Outdoor Furniture Inside
Outdoor furniture, as the name suggests, is meant for the outdoors. That doesn't mean, however, that you should leave it outside during the coldest months of the year. Instead, bring it in and store it somewhere safe.
Leaving your furniture outdoors can damage it greatly. This could lead to you needing to spend a lot of money in the spring to fix or replace it. This is an expense that can be easily avoided.
Furniture left outdoors can also become a hiding spot for pests. Think about it. A family of mice will be a lot warmer in your outdoor sofa's pillows than sleeping in a snow bank.
If you do not have enough room to bring your outdoor furniture inside, consider putting it in a garage or a small storage shed instead. This will be an improvement over leaving it outside with no protection.
11. Not Using Humidifiers
Humid air makes homes or even the outdoors feel warmer. It is why a humidifier will make your home feel warmer, even though the temperature may not actually be any different than if you weren't running it.
A humidifier gets rid of dry air in exchange for humid air. This can also help your skin, scratch throats, and allergies, making a humidifier beneficial for a multitude of reasons.
12. Forgetting to Check Your Furnace
Like many appliances, it is easy to forget about your furnace until it is too late and it stops working properly. Instead, you should be doing regular maintenance on your furnace to ensure that it works correctly for a long period of time.
Make sure to change the disposable furnace filter as often as recommended by the manufacturer of your particular furnace. This could be as often as once a month or only a few times a year.
You should also get your furnace checked and cleaned by professionals at least once a year. This may seem like a big cost but will be great in the long run as it will ensure you go a long time without the need to replace the furnace or does costly fixes on the device.
13. Shying Away from Ceiling Fans
Many people only think of using a ceiling fan when it is hot out. You can, however, rotate the direction of ceiling fans.
Instead of cooling down a room, the fan will now help regulate heat flow in your home. A ceiling fan rotating clockwise will force air downward, away from the ceiling and to where you are.
Using your fan to do this puts less stress on your heater and will save you some money on your utility bill.
14. Not Sealing Drafty Areas
Check to make sure cold air is not entering your home through your windows or doors. If it is, this can cause a draft. It will also force your heater to work harder in order to get your home to be the temperature you want it to be.
To block air from coming into your home through your doors and windows, you may want to consider using weatherstripping or adding caulk around your window and doors. Neither are very difficult or expensive to add to your home, and each can be accomplished in an afternoon, even by a novice DIYer.
If you do not feel comfortable doing these tasks yourself, a professional will be able to do them incredibly quickly.
You could also use insulated curtains or door covers. This will give extra reinforcement to the area and prevent issues.
If you do an energy audit, you will have which doors or windows are letting in drafts confirmed for you so you can focus your efforts on those doors and windows.
Even without an energy audit, though, you could still seal areas where you notice a draft coming from or, if in doubt, re-caulk or the windows and doors in your home to be extra safe.
Like many other winterizing techniques, making an upfront investment and taking some time ahead of the year's coldest months can save you a lot of time, money, and headaches later on in the winter.
While winterizing your home may not seem important, it is. Taking the time to properly winterize your home and avoiding the common pitfalls described above will allow your home to be comfortable even in the coldest of winter months, making it feel like a safe haven for you, your family, and your friends who visit. Some of them may even ask you for tips on how to make their homes as comfortable as yours.
Winterizing your home properly will also save you money in both the short and long term. You can save money in the short term by not having to run your heat at full blast or having other issues to deal with.
It will also save you money in the long term since you will not have as many costly repairs in the winter or spring.
Make sure you are constantly keeping an eye out for problems during the winter. Deal with any potential issues as soon as they happen to prevent them from snowballing into bigger problems later on.
Winterizing your home may seem like a pain, but it is an important part of being a homeowner. Taking a little time to winterize your home ahead of the year's coldest months will do a lot to make your home more livable and save you money and hassle later on.