Winter brings a lot more challenges than just being cold. There are some things about winter that can’t be solved with a cozy blanket and a warm cup of tea.
Many of those challenges have to do with our homes. The winter weather is hard on our houses and that’s why it’s important to prepare before the weather turns nasty. Every year, homeowners spend between 1% and 4% on upgrades and repairs for their homes. This year, make sure some of those upgrades and repairs will go toward preparing your house for the winter.
Some key areas to think about as winter approaches include things like the roof, the plumbing, and your heating and cooling system. All of these areas will be under extra stress when the cold weather arrives. You definitely want to get ahead of any issues before winter can make them worse.
However, you don’t have to wait for a problem. You can act behind something goes wrong and prepare for winter even if it seems like your home is in good repair. There is no harm in being prepared.
If you are looking to get a head start of preparing for winter, check out these 6 winter tips for your home, as well as suggestions for how to pay for repairs and upgrades.
1. Make Sure Your Roof Doesn’t Need Repairs
The roof can be one of the hardest-hit areas of your home when bad winter weather arrives. It can also be a place that costs you a lot of money. That doesn’t always come in the form of repairs. A roof that is damaged can cause heat to leak, driving up your heating bills during winter.
Before winter arrives, you should take a look at your roof and check it for damage. If you can’t get up to your roof yourself, talk with local home roofing companies, who may be able to assess whether you have damage that needs to be addressed before the change in the weather.
One good way to check whether your roof needs repairs is simply to know how old it is. If you have that information available, it can be a good gauge of whether you’re due for repairs or even a roof replacement. One of the best winter tips for your home is simply to get that work done before winter arrives. If you wait, you could exacerbate problems.
This is an issue because your roof affects many other areas of your home. As noted above, a damaged roof can mean higher heating bills. It can also mean that water can sneak into your home and cause damage. This damage may be hard to notice if it’s occurring somewhere like an attic. However, over time water damage from a leaky roof can be severe and even result in things like black mold growth.
If you know your roof is due for repair, don’t wait. Contact a re-roofing service to get that work done before winter sets in and potentially makes it impossible. Delaying could mean you simply have to spend winter dealing with a damaged roof and suffering related damage in the long term.
2. Check Your Heating and Cooling System
One of the systems your roof can have the greatest impact on is the heating and cooling system.
During winter, your heating system may be working overtime. Don’t let that effort go to waste. In addition to making sure your roof is in good repair, one of the most crucial winter tips for your home is to ensure your heating system is running efficiently.
Like all the complicated parts and systems in our homes, the heating system will wear down and lose efficiency over time. It’s inevitable that you will eventually need residential heating repair services for your system to fix damage that occurs with normal wear and tear.
Again, knowing the age of your system can be a big help in knowing whether it is due for repairs. However, another way you can know if your system needs maintenance is by taking a closer look at your heating and electricity bills. If they are steadily ticking upward but you haven’t changed anything major, that could be a sign that your system is getting old and inefficient.
Sometimes, systems merely need to be cleaned to run efficiently again. Our heating systems also connect to a lot of other things, like the roof and the windows, so rule those out before trying to replace your whole heating system.
Heating systems also often involve vents. These can get backed up and dirty and require ventilation services to let the air move smoothly through your home.
3. Don’t Forget the Water Heater, Too
On the top of heating, don’t forget about your water heater. This is different from heating the air in your home. The water heater ensures you have hot water as well.
In winter, water heaters have to work overtime, even as the cold weather makes pipes constrict. That’s why one of the best winter tips for your home is to get water heater repair well before winter sets in. You definitely don’t want to find out in the middle of winter that your water heater isn’t working. A cold shower, when it’s cold and snowy out, could actually be dangerous.
As with many other things around your home, the water heater is intricately linked to other systems. We’ll talk more about plumbing below, but if you are having trouble with your water heater, you could also be having trouble with your plumbing in general. This is a good thing to stay vigilant for as you prepare your home for winter and seek out winter tips for your home.
4. Seal Up Your Windows…
We mentioned above that your heating is linked to things like your roof and your windows. Fortunately, your windows are a lot easier to check up on than your roof or heating system. If you think you might be losing heat during winter, an easy first step is to go around and check on your windows.
When you check on your windows, you are searching for seals that aren’t secure and other ways hot air might slip out. Sometimes, you can check this simply by feeling with your hand and trying to physically feel the air moving. You don’t need any fancy winter tips for your home to feel a draft. You can do that yourself with nothing but your hand.
A seal that isn’t as secure can often be fixed with simple, cheap tools that you can find at any hardware store. Caulk is often the go-to fix for a window that has some cracks and leakage. You can also try weatherstripping to block airflow and keep that hot air sealed in during winter.
If your window is actually damaged, though, you may need to replace the glass itself. Or perhaps your windows are just very old. You don’t need to find any physical evidence of damage in order to want to replace your windows with new glass that may seal in heat better than the old glass.
Winter could be the time to invest in window glass installation so that your windows are sealed up tight against the cold weather. If this simple fix addresses your heating issues it will save you a ton of money during the winter. It is a great first step to take since it is so easy and relatively cheap.
5. …And Your Doors, Too
When you are looking at your windows, take a look at your doors as well. Much like your windows, it is easy for heat to escape from small cracks around doorways.
Winter tips for your home often put a lot of emphasis on the windows, but the doors are just as important, if not more so. It is easy for the seal between the door and the frame to wear out over time. Our doors get heavy use, especially places like the front door. That could weaken the seal over time and leave your home vulnerable to leaking heat.
Like with windows, this is one of the more accessible winter tips for your home. You can reseal your doorways yourself in many cases and by using the same simple products you’d use for your windows. Some caulk can fix areas obviously in need of repair, while weatherstripping can add an extra layer of protection against winter weather.
If you want to go further you could replace older doors or get steel insulated doors. New doors can make a huge difference in how much heat escapes and how easily it escapes. A new door can be the difference between high heating bills and lower ones.
While you are thinking about doors, don’t forget your overhead garage door. It is easy to overlook your garage when you’re thinking about winter tips for your home. You may be thinking that you won’t really spend any time there when it’s cold out, but if you keep your car in your garage or store things you need in your garage, you may end up there more often than you assume.
That’s why it’s good to seal up and repair your garage doors when you are working on getting your home ready for winter. Often simple fixes are sufficient here too and it can make the difference between a miserable, cold morning walk to your car and a comfortable one.
6. Make Sure Your Plumbing Is In Good Repair
Plumbing is one of the hardest-hit areas when winter sets in. Any list of winter tips for your home would be incomplete if it did not mention considering your plumbing.
Cold weather can make pipes constrict, leading to more frequent clogs and backups. It can also cause water to freeze inside your pipes. That is something you want to be aware of immediately.
A burst pipe caused by winter weather can be a major disruption to your life. Not only can it cause extensive damage to your home, but it can also leave you without hot water for days at a time. It is major bad news and something you definitely want to avoid.
To dodge trouble, check on your plumbing before winter sets in. If you have leaks or clogs, take care of those before there is added stress placed on your plumbing due to cold temperatures. You definitely want to hire plumbing repair services before they become a critical necessity. It may already be too late by then.
How to Find Money for Repairs
All of these winter tips for your home require some amount of money. Even just some caulk to seal up windows isn’t free.
As homeowners, it’s a good idea to budget for winter repairs and maintenance. This will not be a one-time expense. You can anticipate needing some sort of repair or other work done every year, but if you budget ahead of time you are less likely to get hit by unexpected expenses. Plus, if you don’t use your entire budget this year, you can roll it over to next winter and save up for a time when you need a larger repair done.
For major repairs, you could also get a loan. There are options for this. You could get a construction loan or other loan if you have to replace pipes or make major fixes that cost a lot of money. It isn’t pleasant to consider needing a loan, but it can prevent worse damage and higher bills in the long run so it can be a worthwhile investment in some cases.
The most important thing when it comes to winter tips for your home is that you know what your specific home and situation require. Perhaps now is a great time to replace some windows. Perhaps this is a year when you are a little late on making repairs but can get a head start of budgeting for future years. Whatever the case may be, ensure you are thinking about your individual home and needs. That is what will be most important when it comes to winter tips for your home this year and for the rest of your time in your home.