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5 Smart Winterization Tips

By Elizabeth R. Elstien

Homeowners know what it's like when plumbing pipes freeze or unwanted air drafts make the temperature in a home colder than it should be. Any home can be prepped for winter weather to minimize the negative affects of freezing temperatures.

Whether it's covering blinds with curtains when colder weather sets in or simply changing your furnace filters on a monthly basis to improve efficiency, any weatherization improvement helps keep a home winter-comfortable.

Get your home ready for winter use and save energy, too. Do it yourself or hire a contractor. Use these five smart tips to winterize your home and prepare for colder weather.

  1. Prepare Those Pipes. Add some insulation if outside fresh water plumbing pipes, or those in unheated areas, are not well insulated from the cold to keep water running through them from freezing and breaking the pipes. Research the many different types of insulation from foams to wools to determine what is best for your pipes. Heat tape is another option, but it must be installed properly for fire safety reasons. Think of heat tape as electrical tape with a heating element that wraps around the pipes and plugs in to an outlet. Pipes already insulated? Check the insulation or heat tape for bad sections every fall and repair or replace as needed.
  2. Drain That Water. Air conditioners and outside water features should be drained in early fall and water shut off to each. Pipes leading to them must also be drained so remaining water does not freeze causing the pipes to burst.
  3. Install Storm Doors. Even though you may have heavy doors to the outside, remove those screen doors for the winter and install storm doors. Storm doors provide a buffer layer between the outside door and the inside of the home, keeping heat in.
  4. Seal Out Drafts. Test windows and doors to see where air may be coming in. Add weather stripping or caulking where unwanted cold air is entering the home to prevent heat loss and avoid potentially damaging moisture build-up. Use rolled up towels or make a stuffed draft "snake" to put at the inside bottom of every door as added protection to keep the drafts out. Watch as your heating bill goes down.
  5. Clean Rain Gutters. Rain gutters help move water away from your home. These gutters or troughs can become clogged with leaves, sticks and other debris. It is very important that these rain gutters be cleaned before winter arrives to prevent stagnating ice and snow from damaging the roof or walls of your home causing leaks or mold.
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