How To Winterize Your Home (If You've Put It Off Until Now)

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Winter is here, but if you still have not prepared your home for the cold weather, all is not lost.

Winter can be rough on your home. For instance, State Farm estimates that 250,000 families are affected by frozen pipes each winter. And that's just one of the many problems that can damage your home if it's not properly prepared. Here are ways to protect your property from the harsh effects of winter.

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Clean gutters and downspouts

It's important that your gutters are cleaned out of any leaves, dirt and debris come winter. If it gets icy or there is a snowstorm, the debris in the gutters can freeze and cause damage to your roof. The weight of the frozen ice can sag the gutter or bring it down altogether. People don't always think to clean these areas, so if you didn't before the first freeze, the next time you experience a thaw, check it out to see if there are blockages.

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Have your chimney inspected

Make sure to have your chimney inspected and cleaned. The main thing you want to protect against in the winter is water damage. If there are already cracks in your chimney, they will absorb any water and freeze during the winter. The frozen water will expand and cause further damage to the structure.

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Install or check the battery on your carbon monoxide detector

During the winter, you close your home up as tight as you can to keep the cold air out and the warm air in. Household appliances like heating systems, gas fireplaces and water heaters can produce carbon monoxide gas, which can be extremely dangerous to you and your family. Make sure your family is safe by installing or checking your carbon monoxide detector's battery. 

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Create an emergency kit

During the winter, make sure to keep an emergency kit in your home in case of severe winter weather. Blankets and mittens to keep you warm, flashlights in case the power goes out, a first aid kit, dry goods and canned food are some of the things that should be in your emergency kit.

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Check your home's heating system

Hire an inspector to make sure your home's heating systems are functioning smoothly and safely. You do not want your heat to quit working in the middle of winter. Especially if you live in a city known for its cold weather.

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Caulk exterior wood and windows

This is a great way to ensure that heat stays in your home and the cold stays outside. During the winter, you wouldn't drive around with your window open, so you should treat your home the same way. Make sure to get a silicone caulk that is able to hold up in temperatures as cold as minus 20 degrees Fahrenheit.

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Drain outside faucets

Unlike the appliances in your home, the faucets outside are not protected from the elements. Make sure to drain the water because if you don't, it could potentially split the water line inside your home and cause a bad leak that could take a lot of time and money to repair.

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Check drainage

It's important to make sure there are no leaking pipes in your home. If your drainage system is not working, your home can sustain property damage. Leaky pipes can lead to rotting wood and put the foundation of your home at risk because of water runoff. It's best to drain all water from the pipes and fill them with an antifreeze solution.

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Cover outside furniture

Make sure to cover your outside furniture before it's too late. If you have a wooden deck or wooden furniture outside your home, the moisture that is frozen in the wood can cause it to crack - similar to your chimney.

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Fertilize lawn

Fertilizing your lawn gives the grass nutrients, which it stores until winter is over, giving it a head start come spring. It's best to do this in late fall or early winter, before the first freeze. If you missed that window this year, wait until your grass begins to actively grow again before fertilizing.

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Prepare lawn equipment

You probably won't be using your lawn equipment for the rest of the winter, so make sure to drain all of the gas from the tanks because it can go bad just sitting there. Instead, fill your equipment with antifreeze.

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Insulate water lines

Insulating water lines helps protect against freezing and can reduce heat loss and lower the costs of heating the water in your home. It can also prevent the pipes from sweating due to moisture condensation, which can reduce humidity levels in the house in the summertime.

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Get an energy audit

Winter is a good time for a home energy assessment. This will help you learn about areas in your home where energy loss is a problem and could help you save money in the long run.

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Have insurance ready

Ideally, you should have done this before winter began. But it's never too late to make sure your insurance covers weather-related issues such as frozen plumbing, gutter damage, roof damage, snow related-damage and many other issues.

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Stock up on winter tools

Whether you have 6 feet of snow outside of your doorstep or ice on the window of your car, there are plenty of tools that might be needed when cold weather hits, such as a snow shovel, ice scraper, snow blower or roof rake. Think your home is ready to take on winter's worst? Now make sure your car is equally as prepared. 

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