There are two kinds of home winterization tips. The first variety often involves spending a load of money to upgrade your energy efficiency. While definitely worthwhile and timely, these fixes can still be very costly (think adding insulation, getting a new energy efficient furnace, energy efficient windows, etc.).
The other variety of home winterizing tips focus on the things that you can do on a weekend afternoon for very little money (or free) with a little bit of elbow grease. The cost savings of doing such work generally comes in the form of preventing costly fix-it repairs that come from neglect. Since the weather in the Steel City will probably fluctuate for the next 3 or 4 months, take advantage of one of the more temperate days we have coming and keep your home warm for the rest of winter!
Clean Out Your Gutters
Gutters that are dammed up with leaves can result in ice dams, which can lead to all kinds of costly outdoor repairs (damaged shingles, roof leaks, broken gutters, etc). Additionally, if your gutters are clogged up, water could be falling right next to your foundation and leads to possible flooding in the basement.
Drain Your External Faucets
Water that is sitting in pipes that lead to outside faucets can freeze and burst, ultimately flooding your basement and leading to possible water damage and mold problems. Simply close off the interior faucet valves by turning them clockwise all the way to the right. Then go outside and make sure that every last drop has come out of the faucet.
Search for drafts around windows and doors on a cold windy day. Place a tissue paper over the suspected draft area. If the paper flutters, you’ve probably located the draft. For drafts under doors, you may have to buy a rubber draft stopper to place at the bottom of the door.
Repair Your Shingles
If you have cracked, missing, or otherwise damaged shingles, have them replaced immediately so that you don’t get roof leaks. Strong winds, falling tree limbs, and sun weathering can all lead to damaged shingles. You might as well check them out while you’re up on your roof cleaning out your gutters.
Flush Your Hot Water Heater
You can flush a hot water heater any time of year, but you might as well throw it in with the other maintenance work you’ll be doing since you really only need to do it about once a year. If you don’t, sediment can build up at the bottom of your water heater and cause it to lose efficiency or even leak.
Simply take one of your water hoses and fasten it to the water faucet at the bottom of your water heater. Turn off the water heater so that you don’t get burned by hot water accidentally. Run the hose outdoors, preferably, but if you can’t do that, then a laundry tub should be sufficient. Open the valve and let the water drain out completely, rinsing out the sediment with it.