As the thermostat drops, you need to take steps to protect your home or business from the elements of winter. Wherever you live and work, cold air, snow, ice, wind, or rain can cause lasting damage.
Here are six winterization tips for each region of the U.S.
Here are some simple steps to keep your pipes from freezing or bursting this winter.
Replace dirty air filters. Vacuum floor gates and return grates (especially if you have children or pets). Schedule an HVAC checkup by a professional — check electrical connections, lubricate moving parts, inspect drain and trap, clean ducts.
Our new composting privacy fence should be going up this fall, so we’ll be using this a lot.
Store your grills and outdoor furniture where snow and ice can’t do damage — like a garage, shed, or basement — or use covers to shield them from the elements. Clean your power equipment, like lawn mowers and trimmers, before storing. Inspect your snow blower now (before the first snow) and stock up on ice melt.
Adding insulation to your attic is an easy way to control temperatures in any season. Only add more if your insulation is just level with or below your floor joists.
Asphalt can expand and crack in the heat of summer. Water can seep into these cracks, freeze, and widen them during the winter. Apply sealant every 2-3 years to prevent further damage.
Check with your service provider for any adjustments to chemicals, cleaning schedules, or steps for pipe protection. Inspect pool safety features — pool nets, pool covers, fences or gates — even if not in use for the season.
Examine your building, looking for possible pest entry points (especially where pipes, wires, or ducts enter). Use wire-mesh, caulk, rodent-proof spray foam, or steel wool to fill space.
Reverse your fans to spin clockwise. Hot air that rises to the ceiling will be forced back down to warm the room.
If your AC unit is located under trees or where icicles and snow may fall, use plywood and tarps to give it protection. Don’t create an enclosed space to trap moisture or give rodents a place to nest.
Since some plants grow year-round in some areas of the South, take a trimmer to tree branches, shrubs, and other plants so they aren’t encroaching on your home or business.
Seal surfaces and fill any gaps, leaky gutters, crumbling caulk, or loose siding where winter moisture could do damage. Have a trouble area that’s always peeling or losing paint? Do some additional investigating to make sure you don’t have a deeper moisture problem.
Make sure winter rains and snow have a clear pathway by removing leaves and other debris. Use a trowel and bucket (or garden hose) to remove leaves and branches. In mountainous areas, you may need heating cables to keep ice from forming.
Apply moss-killing granules or liquid solution to your rooftop (the ones made for roofs, not lawns). Place a bead along each roof side’s ridge. The first big rain will wet the granules, spreading the moss-killing agent across the roof.
Caulk any gaps where windows, doors, and corner trim meets the siding. Apply new weatherstripping to drafty doors or ones with old stripping.
Drain all the water from your irrigation system before the first freeze (this may require the help of a pro).
Carbon monoxide poisoning and fires spike during cooler months with the rise in furnace use. Test and swap out dead batteries … or the alarm, if it’s more than 10 years old.
Extend the life of your water heater, and make it more energy efficient. When it is cold out, hot water be in high demand.
If frost is predicted in your area, take steps — bring indoors, protect with plant covers, or spread mulch — to protect vulnerable plants like:
If you have surface or sub-surface drainage systems, run water through them to make sure there’s no blockages. Remove debris or call your landscaper for any repairs. Test your sump pump and inspect trouble spots — like standing water or overflowing gutters — after a heavy fall rain.
If you decide to “shut down” your pool or hot tub, drain the water from pumps, filters, and heaters; clean out debris; balance the water PH; and cover.
Warm-climate grass, like Bermudagrass, goes dormant in the winter months. Apply a fertilizer in the fall for deeper root growth. Water and mow only as needed.
The coating on roof shingles degrade in the hot Southwestern sun (especially on the southern and western sides). Replace worn shingles before rainy season starts. Check flashing for cracks or holes, and fill with sealant, to prevent moisture from getting in by chimneys, attic vents, and plumbing vent stacks.
If you use an evaporative (swamp) cooler in place of AC, follow these steps before covering: