Though it’s only fall, winter weather is sneaking up early. Knowing you are well-prepared for any type of winter weather will be a comfort when it begins raining sideways for days on end. With the proper preparation, you will be warm and cozy inside, enjoying a friendly fire and a cup of hot cocoa instead of cleaning your gutters out in the rain. Since winter conditions vary throughout the country, how to winterize a house may be dictated, in part, by where you live. Get a good start today with these ten expert tips.

Clean the gutters

Unclog your gutters by removing leaves and debris. Wet leaves can add a lot of weight, increasing the risk of damage. Consider installing gutter guards that allow water to slip around the guard and prevent debris from accumulating. In addition, check that all the downspouts are securely attached.

Trim those trees

High winds can bring old, dead, or brittle branches down in a snap. Avoid damage to your home or automobiles by trimming dead branches and limbs that are hanging dangerously close to the house. Pay close attention to branches near your roof and windows, or over your driveway.

Keep the heat in

A top tip for how to winterize a house by checking the weatherstripping and sweeps on doors. Replace old and brittle weather stripping and be sure to check the caulking around windows. Consider installing door sweeps for the bottom of any doors leading to the outdoors for added insulation. Door-draft stoppers along the base of doors are another efficient way to ensure the cold stays outside where it belongs.

Be sure to also check for air leaks. There are several methods you can use to detect air leaks, such as the incense stick method. Simply light a stick of incense and slowing walk around your home. Any time the smoke of the incense is abruptly pulled or pushed; you’ve likely found a draft. Use high-quality exterior caulk to seal gaps you find around the outside moldings around windows.

Test your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors and replace batteries, if necessary

Did you know that residential fires are more common in winter? Be sure you are checking your smoke detector every month!

House the hose and dress the spigots

Drain and store any hoses you will not use during the winter months. Shut off the valves and then drain them before storing them away. Insulate exterior faucets and any exposed water pipes in uninsulated spaces to prevent bursting pipes in freezing temperatures. Any water that remains in those faucets will freeze, possibly causing pipes to burst.

Your sprinkler and irrigation systems need attention too. Shut off the water, drain the lines, and blow any remaining water out to prevent frozen water from cracking the plastic water lines. Insulate exposed solenoids and any exposed water pipe risers. It’s as simple as covering them with a plastic bag and secure with twine.

Don’t forget the air conditioner!

When it starts warming up outside, you will be glad you winterized your air conditioning system. Clean the fan blades and condensing coils using a high-pressure hose nozzle. Let the unit dry completely. Cover the condensing unit with a waterproof and breathable cover to prevent damage from wet leaves and debris. Finally, remove any window air conditioners. If you can’t remove them, close the vents and cover them.


Replace any missing or damaged shingles on the roof and have them replaced. Check flashings around chimneys and other items installed on the roof, which are often the source of leaks. Hire someone to do this for you or follow proper safety precautions if you do it yourself, such as wearing well-fastened shoes with non-skid soles.

Chimney, fireplace, and flue

Clear any obstructions in the chimney, such as nests from birds or other small animals. Make sure the damper opens and closes fully. Ensure that it can be locked in either the open or closed position as well.

Also confirm that the chimney will draw up fire and smoke properly. Open the damper and light a few sheets of rolled newspaper in the fireplace. The smoke should rise up the chimney. If it does not, there is probably an obstruction that you should remove immediately.

Speaking of removing obstructions, it’s good practice to hire a professional chimney sweep every few years to clean your fireplace. Have them remove any creosote, ash, or possible debris from the chimney. Have them check and repair any open mortar joints to prevent a fire from spreading into the stud wall behind the masonry firebrick.

Insulation is key

A properly insulated attic floor is an inexpensive way to add to the comfort of your home when it is storming outside which in turn reduces your heating costs. Use spray foam around the casing of attic windows as well as foam weatherstripping to seal leaks around the sash and jambs. Consider wrapping your water heaters in an insulation blanket.

Miscellaneous things to have

Be sure to have any materials you may need to cover plants from the frost. Have a trusty heating cable or chemical deicer to prevent icy sidewalks. Check your emergency supplies to ensure you have the proper equipment, such as candles or lanterns, in case of a power outage.

Whether you are winterizing your primary residence or closing your summer home for the season, preparing your home for winter is critical. It’s easy to keep your investments and your family safe through the season by putting in a little proactive work. If you follow these tips for how to winterize a house, you have no problems this winter.

Remember, if you require a renovation loan, or will purchase a new primary residence or summer home, Strategic Mortgage offers a range of options to suit your needs. We are always happy to speak with you about the loan options. Contact us today!