When the weather turns chilly, your house needs to button up, too. And the way to do that is to learn how to winterize your house. No, not once the snow starts falling, but now. Trust us, you’ll want to nip any issues in the bud before the temperature drops too much.
Here’s a handy list of things to check on your house to keep it cozy, save on energy bills, and prevent a nightmare’s worth of damage you’ll have to tackle come spring (or even worse, in the dead of winter).
Conduct a pre-winter inspection
First, size up how prepared your house is for winter by taking a walk around its perimeter and eyeballing these features, says Bob Hanbury, a Newington, CT, builder for 40 years and a board member of the National Association of Home Builders:
- Check the ground to make sure it slopes away from your house, which helps prevent melting ice and snow from seeping into your home.
- Look for gnawing marks on vents and trim, which signal that critters are trying to make their winter home in your attic. If you see teeth marks, patch holes to discourage unwelcome visitors. The animal type, that is.
- Inspect caulking around doors and windows to make sure it’s not cracking or peeling, which will let cold air in and heated air out, increasing winter energy bills.
- Check roof shingles, and replace any that are curled or missing.
- Cut back tree branches overhanging the roof, which could cause damage during storms.
How to prevent ice dams
Ice dams, however lovely they may sound, are ice mounds around the edge of your roof created when melting snow can’t drip into gutters, through downspouts, and away from your house. Ice dams are not your friends.
If any of those exits are blocked with leaves or ice, then water stays on your roof and continually melts and freezes, causing dams that push water under eaves and into your home.
Adequate and properly installed insulation helps prevent ice damming; so does making sure gutters and downspouts are in good shape and unblocked by leaves, bird nests, and other debris.
If ice damming has been a past problem, you can increase your odds of a drip-free winter by laying heating cables along the edge of your roof, in gutters, and down spouts, which will keep ice from forming. Cables typically cost $200 to $400, depending on the size of your house.
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