Texas Living

Guide to Winterizing Your Home

By Jennifer Chappell Smith 2.24.16

If you feel a draft creeping through your home, it’s time to winterize. Just as you dig out warm sweaters and blankets, stock up on marshmallows and hot cocoa, and bring in firewood for the season, your home needs some extra attention to get through the winter months. Winterizing your home will help keep your family cozy and save you in energy costs. Here’s where to start: 

Packing Up Outdoors 

  • Pool. If your pool water freezes, that can do major damage. Depending on your area, different levels of winterizing may be necessary. Check out this guide to pool maintenance and winterizing your pool
  • Gutters. Cleaning out your gutters every fall and spring is an important part of home maintenance and can prevent costly repairs and problems down the road. Check gutters and downspouts for debris and make sure they aren’t loose or sagging, as the weight of snow or ice can pull them loose.
  • Hoses. Remove hoses from exterior faucets and store them. Make certain water is drained from sprinkler heads.
  • Pipes. Don’t get caught unawares by an early freeze; drain water out of pipes and shut off the water supply valve if you leave town. Cover vulnerable outdoor pipes with insulated sleeves made of foam rubber or fiberglass. You can find such products at hardware stores or home stores.
  • Boats. Don’t leave your precious boat to the whims of winter. Clean it out, air out life jackets, and make sure you fill the tank with a fuel stabilizer; you’ll also want to spray the engine with oil to prevent rust. Now you can dream peacefully of lake days without worrying all winter. 
  • Furniture. Clean and vacuum any pillows, cushions, and umbrellas you have outdoors before storing them in a dry area to protect them from mold growth. Also move wooden, metal, and wicker pieces into a protected area, such as a garage or storage shed. Try applying a coat of automotive wax to protect metal furniture. You should clean and store any seasonal tools you won’t need until your next foray into the garden. 
  • Garage. Just like switching out your summer wardrobe, now is a good time to ready your garage for winter.

Wrapping Up Indoors

  • Roof. Inspect your roof for leaks well before inclement weather arrives.
  • Insulation. Check for any gaps you may need to fill
  • Thermostat. The Insurance Information Institute recommends keeping your thermostat above 65 degrees to prevent pipes from freezing, bursting, and causing water damage. 
  • Seal cracks and holes. To fix holes around plumbing pipes in the attic, fill the hole with fiberglass insulation and seal with spray foam. You may need to add fresh caulk around windows and doors.
  • Weatherstripping. Make sure all the weatherstripping around windows and door frames is tight and in good condition. The U.S. Department of Energy offers a great chart to help you choose from the many kinds of weather stripping available for your project — from an aluminum door sweep to foam tape that seals windows.
  • Window frames. Look for signs of rot or decay. This can lead to structural damage as well as compromise the frame’s ability to keep out cold air and moisture. Check the glass for cracks, gaps, and broken areas, and replace or repair.

Warming Up Safely 

  • Fireplaces and chimneys. Think of a roaring fireplace like a campfire in your living room, and treat it with the same reverence. Follow this guide to wood-burning safely, and make sure you have fire safety measures in place. 
  • Furnace. Your furnace is your first line of defense against the cold. Call in the experts to ensure your HVAC system is clean, ventilated, and in good status. You may need to clean or replace the air filter, and flush the water heater tank to get rid of sediment and increase efficiency.
  • Smoke detectors. Install smoke and carbon monoxide alarms in your home, and keep camp stoves, generators, and other such equipment outside the house.
  • Heated bedding. Electric blankets have great snuggling appeal but should be used with caution.

Preparing for All Weather

  • Emergency supplies. Make sure you stock up on the essentials in case of bad weather. Follow this guide to a successful evacuation plan and kit
  • Evacuation plan. Your family should have a customized fire escape plan, as well. 

Call your Texas Farm Bureau Insurance Agent if you have any questions about your property insurance. A 360 Review is a great way to make sure you have the coverage you need and give yourself peace of mind for the season ahead. Learn more about protecting your home this winter with tips for decking the halls safely

Coverage and discounts are subject to qualifications and policy terms and may vary by situation. © 2016 Texas Farm Bureau Insurance