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THE 10-MINUTE GUIDE TO ...

WINTERIZE YOUR HOME AND BUSINESS

Tips and products to prep you for winter.


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.

Jump to a Region
Midwest | Northeast | Southeast | Northwest | Southwest


Midwest & Northeast


Northeast & Midwest


Prevent your pipes from freezing.

Here are some simple steps to keep your pipes from freezing or bursting this winter.

  • Seal cracks and openings in walls, attic, basement, and/or crawlspace.
  • Add insulation where pipes are located
  • Use pipe sleeves and duct tape to insulate unprotected pipes
  • Locate your main water shut off so you can turn off the water quickly, if needed
  • Disconnect garden hoses from outdoor faucets to prevent water from freezing in the hose and rupturing the faucet
  • Close foundation vents
  • Repair broken basement windows

Tune up your HVAC.

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.


Keep cold out.

Caulk around windows, install door sweeps, and use outlet protectors to keep warm air in and cold air out.

Our new composting privacy fence should be going up this fall, so we’ll be using this a lot.


Protect / prep your outdoor equipment.

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.


Add insulation to your attic.

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.


Seal coat blacktop driveways.

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.



Southeast


Southeast


Prep your swimming pool.

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.


Pest-proof your exterior.

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.


Switch your ceiling fan direction.

Reverse your fans to spin clockwise. Hot air that rises to the ceiling will be forced back down to warm the room.


Protect your outdoor air conditioning unit.

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.


Trim back plants.

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.


Touch up your exterior.

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.



Northwest


Northwest


Clean your gutters.

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.


Clear moss off your roof.

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.


Check for drafty doors and windows.

Caulk any gaps where windows, doors, and corner trim meets the siding. Apply new weatherstripping to drafty doors or ones with old stripping.


Drain your lawn irrigation system.

Drain all the water from your irrigation system before the first freeze (this may require the help of a pro).


Test smoke and carbon dioxide alarms.

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.


Flush your water heater.

Extend the life of your water heater, and make it more energy efficient. When it is cold out, hot water be in high demand.



Southwest


Southwest


Protect vulnerable plants.

If frost is predicted in your area, take steps — bring indoors, protect with plant covers, or spread mulch — to protect vulnerable plants like:

  • Warm-season vegetables (tomato, corn, and pepper)
  • Warm-season annuals (impatiens, petunia, and geranium)
  • Houseplants and tropicals
  • Spring-blooming shrubs and trees (azalea, rhododendron, and cherry)
  • Citrus trees
  • Tender bulbs (dahlia and elephant ear)

Check your drainage systems.

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.


Close the hot tub and pool.

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.


Change up your lawn care routine.

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.


Inspect roof shingles and flashing.

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.


Shut down your evaporative cooler.

If you use an evaporative (swamp) cooler in place of AC, follow these steps before covering:

  • Turn off the water supply
  • Drain the water lines completely so that they don’t freeze
  • Clean the tank of any mineral buildup
  • Unplug the pump



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