November 9, 2020
The Ultimate Home Winterization Checklist
Although winters in Seattle are milder than in other parts of the country, it’s still important to winterize your home before cold weather arrives. Not doing so could result in costly repairs when you least expect them or an abundance of added work in the Spring. Take advantage of this handy winterization checklist from the Model Remodel team. A little Fall home maintenance will go a long way towards protecting your investment into the new year.
The Top 3 Most Important Home Winterization Tasks
If you only have time for a few quick updates, these are the ones you don’t want to skip:
Perform Heating System Maintenance
At some point in the winter you’ll be relying upon your heating system to keep you and your family warm. The last thing you want on the first frigid day of the year is to turn on your heating system only to realize it’s no longer working. Avoid the shock and frustration by testing your heating system before you need it. Here’s how to ensure that your home heating system is working and performs optimally:
- Adjust the thermostat to 80 degrees and turn on the heat. If warm air isn’t blowing out within a few minutes—or you hear any concerning noises—call a qualified technician. Following the manufacturer’s recommendations, perform HVAC seasonal maintenance. If you don’t know how, it’s wise to hire a professional.
- Replace filters. If you can’t remember replacing your furnace filter within the past 12 months, it’s likely overdue for replacing. Replace according to the manufacturers schedule to stop dust, debris and pet hair from clogging up the system or recirculating in your home.
- Be sure that your furnace’s exhaust vents are free of obstructions.
- Inspect and clean heating units and vents throughout the house. This includes radiators, baseboard heaters and grates.
- Test all carbon monoxide (CO) detectors and alarms.
- Inspect the HVAC duct seals to ensure system efficiency.
Winterize the A/C System
Though it may seem counterintuitive, paying attention to your air conditioner after you’ve stopped using it is a smart idea. Protect your coveted A/C unit, and extend its useful life, by taking these easy steps:
- Clean dirt and debris off the unit’s fan blades and condensing coils, per the manufacturers care recommendations. Protect it with a breathable, waterproof cover if needed.
- If you have window A/C units, remove and store them inside the home.
Inspect Your Home’s Insulation & Siding
Insulation is vital to your home’s health and efficiency all year long. It protects your home from heat loss in the winter and overheating in the summer, so your HVAC system doesn’t have to work so hard to maintain a comfortable temperature. The best time to do a major insulation update is during the warmer months. However, you can still winterize your home with these simple insulation strategies:
- Wrap your hot water heater in a special insulation blanket to prevent standby heat loss. Most modern tanks don’t need extra insulation, but many older ones could use the extra boost. Be careful to install the blanket according to both the heater and blanket manufacturer.
- Seal off any unused fireplaces with the help of a professional.
- Use foam gaskets to insulate electrical outlets and switch plates on exterior walls.
- Visually check your siding for any signs of damage or areas that might allow for water intrusion.
Look Over Wood-burning Fireplaces
If you have a wood-burning fireplace hire a professional to inspect and clean it, along with the chimney and flue. A fireplace and chimney can not only be a major source of cold air and water leaks, if not cleaned and maintained properly they could cause a fire. At the very least vacuum or sweep any accumulated ash from the firebox.
Prevent Window and Door Drafts
Drafty air infiltrating your doors and windows will increase your heating bills this winter. Some reliable ways to improve your home’s energy efficiency include:
- Check for leaks around your window and door moldings. Then, caulk any gaps with high-quality caulking.
- Inspect and replace the weatherstripping around windows and doors, if necessary.
- Check your window tracks and clean off any debris that might interfere with the seals.
- Test the window locks, as you’ll want to secure them completely once cold weather arrives.
Protect Your Water Pipes
When water freezes it expands, and can burst whatever is containing it. Although unusual, below-freezing temps are possible during the winter months in Seattle. Ruptured water pipes in the winter can be a huge hassle. Sleep better at night knowing your water pipes are protected by taking these precautions:
- Drain and unhook your garden hoses. Store hoses indoors where they will be protected from cold temperatures. If possible, turn off the water supply to outdoor hose spigots and add insulated covers to further protect the exterior plumbing fixtures.
- Properly insulate any exposed piping in the attic, crawlspace and other nonheated areas of the home. Most piping is protected within the home, but be sure to think about your entire property from irrigation systems to swimming pool supply lines to washing machines that might be located in your unheated garage.
- If you’ll be away from your home for several months, shut off the water supply and drain the plumbing system before departing. Alternatively, you can be sure to keep your home at above 55° F to prevent freezing.
Don’t Forget the Roof
Finally, look up! Perform a DIY roof inspection or have it inspected by an experienced roofer. Either way, here’s what to look for:
- Clean leaves and other debris out of your gutters and downspouts, and make sure they are securely fastened to the home. Blocked gutters can cause water to pool or backup, possibly leading to leaks which can cause significant damage.
- Also check the positioning of your downspouts, as they can accidentally be bumped or become shifted over time. The downspout should be angled away from your home’s foundation and be positioned in a way that allows it to drain.
- Inspect the roof for any missing or damaged shingles and replace them.
- Check the flashing around the chimney, skylight and other roof projections for signs of cracking or leaks, and make any necessary repairs.
How to Choose the Right Contractor in Seattle
Winterizing your home annually is something that’s easy to put off or forget, but it’s so important for your home. Protect you investment and keep your home preforming optimally but running through this checklist every year when the leaves start to fall.
Have a remodel in mind? Whether you’re planning an exciting kitchen makeover, bathroom remodel or home office renovation, choosing a reputable contractor makes all the difference. At Model Remodel we design and build home remodeling projects of many sizes. We’ve built a solid reputation in the Seattle area by transforming outdated homes into functional, beautiful living spaces with our conception-to-completion process. To get started bringing your home improvement project to life, tell us more about your objectives today by using our online form.