Every body knows that the best winterizing strategy is to take care for your home thought the whole year.

However…

…there are a number of steps you can do the prepare the place you care about for the possible harsh winter conditions.

Winter months are hard – for man, nature, and buildings. Low winter temperatures, lead to a change in the physical properties of materials and fluids.

Wind blows hard and slams the snow trough the tiniest holes in your hose and changes in properties of fuel can lead to problems with the heating system.

All these things will effect the structure and materials  of your house when weather gets cold. Therefore taking a responsible approach when preparing for the winter months is a must.

This is especially true if you have no plan on visiting your vacation home in the winter, then you should pay extra attention the the steps listed below.

Let’s look at some of the the best practices when weatherizing and winterizing your home.

How to inspect and prepare your home

The measures listed here are recommended regardless of whether your house will be used during the winter or not.

Probably the most important element, when securing your home for the winter, is the roof.

Roof

Check the roof and fasteners for structural damages. Carefully check if fasteners are properly attached. Inspect you chimneys and roof windows for leakages.

snow on the roof

Snow blowing into roof cracks can reveal minor damages, witch are not easily seen during the summer.

If you find such damages, and there is snow on the roof, perform temporary repairs using self-adhesive waterproofing polymer tape.

Snow Guards

The need to install snow guard depends on the location of your home and the configuration of your roof.

The snow guards are installed in places where there is possibility for the snow to fall and cause harm on people and property.

Snow guards are also recommended to install if you have warm attic floor – in this case, an additional amount of snow on top of your hose will reduce the heat loss through the roof.

snow guard mounted on roof
The need to install snow guards is determined by the roof’s position and close proximity of other property.

Attic

The most basic step you can take is to check your attic for leaks, condensation and mold.

Traces of leaks indicate roof damage, which should be repaired. The presence of condensation and mold at the attic indicates bad ventilation.

If your attic is cold and doesn’t have proper ventilation – consider one.  Good ventilation will remove water vapor from under the roof.

Gutters and downspouts

Properly installed gutters should not be an obstacle for the water and snow coming down from the roof. Clean leaves and derbies, this will ensure proper drainage with maximum capacity.

Mixture of frozen water and dirt is most often the reason way the gutters brake. So clean them regularly.

Properly installed drainage pipes do not hold water and do not freeze easily. However, if water enters the downspouts or rain barrel diver in small portions during winter, it can gradually freeze on pipe’s wall, forming ice capable of blocking the water flow.

Good solutions to battle ice and debris are – shallow laid pipes with a slight slope, system for separating debris, and gutter heating system.

Walls

Inspect the walls for wet spots coming from the roof or from splashes from the ground.

Wet walls can lead to the destruction of the outer most layer when it freezes.

To protect the walls from wetting – use protectors or hydrophobic paint.

Foundation

Concrete surfaces around your house should be smooth and solid and without cracks and cavities.

If there is damage, and to prevent the water from freezing inside the cracks, try to fill it with polyurea or polyurethane sealant.

Basement

The key element when inspecting the basement is to note how dry it is.

Excess moisture creates an environment less suitable for wooden constructions. Do not close your basement completely without any ventilation.

Also, soil gases can accumulate and without proper ventilation the only way out is trough your house’s upper floors.

Opening windows and running dehumidifier (when closed) is a good solutions if you have humid basement.

Window

If your windows have metal or plastic frames lubricate the moving parts and hinges. WD-40 is good solution. This ensures soft movement, less friction, and no freezing.

If you have very drafty windows isolate them with bubble warp and plastic wrap.

For often used windows that are also drafty, use weather strip or window draft guard.

Doors

Doors hinges and locks should also be lubricated with WD-40 or graphite grease. This will prevent the locks from freezing.

Under door draft stopper is a good solution if you have big gap between the door and the floor. For side gaps use weather strip.

Outside the house

  • Lubricate the outside gates.
  • Empty the barrels and containers with water,
  • Drain the water from the decorative ponds and pools.
  • Drain water from the hoses and irrigation system.
  • Remove the watering pump from the pond or well.
  • Blow out hoses and pipes with a compressor if necessary.
  • Inspect trees and remove the branches that may touch the house or fall on it under the snow load.

More winter preparation tips

Changes in heat system load, ventilation, and increased consumption of electrical power suggest even more additional measures for proper home care.

Smoke and carbon monoxide detectors

Replace the carbon monoxide and smoke alarms batteries. During the winter, when the windows and doors are closed, the ventilation of the house deteriorates and the risks of increased concentration of toxic gases is higher.

Particularly relevant are the detectors inside the garage and boiler room.

Chimneys

Check chimneys and clean them from soot.

Insulate the external parts of your chimneys (attic included).

To reduce the formation of condensate and the likelihood of blockage of the chimney, remove the protective cap.

Install ceiling fans

ceiling fan for winter

Warm air rises, and cold air goes down. The use of ceiling fans in the wintertime allows you to create a zone of thermal comfort in the lower part of the room at lower heating costs.

Install programmable thermostats.

Why spend money on excessive heating while at work?

Install thermostats that are programmable or controlled via mobile phone.

Piping

Insulate pipelines with thermal insulation and, if necessary, install heating cables to prevent water from freezing in pipelines in unheated areas.

The larger the diameter of the pipelines, the less likely to freeze.

Heating system

Insulate the transit sections of the heating pipes, the water heater and the heat accumulator.

The liquid heating system must be filled with coolant (antifreeze) and checked for leaks.

Drains

Install de-icing heating cables along gutters and drains.

Preparing your vacation home

This is relevant if your house is left without heating for the winter or you will only heat it periodically – during irregular visits during the cold season.

In addition to all the general measures that we discussed let’s look at some steps to prevent damages caused by expanding of water.

Water pipes

Shut off the water supply to the house.

Be sure to drain the water from all water pipes in the house, including flexible pipes, siphons and ladders.

Water can be drained using valves that are pre-installed at the lowest points of the plumbing system.

If you dot have such valves, then you will need to remove water from the water pipes by blowing them with a compressor.

insulate-water-pipes

Water must be drained from all storage tanks in the plumbing system, fine filters for water purification, from surface pumping stations. Expansion tanks are disassembled and dried.

Water is drained from the well supply pipe and don’t forget to drain the water from the tankless water heater.

Water is removed from all the ladders, siphons and water traps (including the toilet). Pour antifreeze (preferably propylene glycol or other non-toxic antifreeze) to prevent sewage odors from entering the house.

Heating system

Shut off the gas supply on all heating devices.

If your heating cools with water it must be drained, and replaced with antifreeze, or the system must be flushed and filled with inert gas (argon).

If the system is left empty, there is a high risk of corrosion due to residual moisture in the system.

Food stocks

Food conserved in glass containers can be damaged by freezing.

Store supplies in places with reliable thermal insulation where the temperature in winter does not fall below 32F.

Well that’s it. Stay safe and take care of your home.

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