Winterizing Your Home

Real Estate Agent

If you live in a climate where freezing temperatures occur, you will need to perform certain maintenance tasks in order to keep your home in top operating condition.

Here are some tips on how to prepare your home for winter conditions - and avoid some of the common mistakes made:

Sump Pumps

  • If you have a sump pump, we recommend installing a battery back-up sump pump, especially if your basement is finished. The battery back-up pumps beep when they are in use, alerting you that there is a problem with your pump.
  • To prevent freeze ups or damage to your sump pump, remove exterior discharge hoses.

Hoses and Hose Bibs

Before the first frost you will want to follow these simple steps to ensure that your hose bibs do not freeze and consequently leak. Please keep in mind that hose bib leaks due to improper winterization are not covered by your warranty.

  • Remove hoses from the garage and exterior hose bibs to prevent water pipes from freezing within the wall.
  • Wrap the pipes and the pressure reducing valve at your main water shut off to provide additional protection against freezing.
  • Shut off the main water supply to the hose bibs.
  • On the exterior open the hose bib and drain the water from the line.
  • Push upward on the anti-siphon ring to ensure that all of the water is drained from the line.
  • On the interior open the bleeder valve at the shut off. (Make sure you have something to catch the water in.) Be sure this valve is tightened again after the water is drained.
  • Make sure that the black washer is in the cap.
  • Push upward on the anti-siphon ring to ensure that all of the water is drained from the line.

Gutters and Downspouts

  • Clean gutters and downspouts frequently throughout fall to prevent build up of leaves and other debris. Neglected gutters can lead to wood rot problems, pest infestations, wet basements, foundation damage and many other expensive complications.
  • Be sure water is not coming down behind gutters and that all support brackets are securely in place.
  • Check to ensure water drains properly and doesn't pool, which can cause damage to foundations, driveways, and walkways.

Windows and Doors

  • Inspect and repair any loose or damaged window or door frames.
  • Install weather stripping or caulking around windows and doors to prevent drafts and lower heating bills.
  • Clean and lubricate garage door hinges, rollers, and tracks and be sure screws are tight.

HVAC Systems

It is generally recommended that you hire an HVAC company to regularly maintain your HVAC system.

  • Change your furnace filters on a regular basis.
  • Consider having a heating professional check your heating system to ensure optimal performance and discover minor problems before they turn into costly major repairs.
  • Adjust the dampers if necessary. A little heat to the unused rooms of your home should be left on during the cold winter.
  • Clean your ducts to better your heating system's efficiency as well as to reduce household dust and to provide relief to those with respiratory problems. Also check for air leakage especially around joints.
  • Clean your thermostat's heat sensor, contact points, and contacts. Check accuracy and replace if necessary.
  • Lubricate hot water heater's pump and motor. Bleed air from radiators or convectors.
  • If leaving on vacation, do not turn the thermostat below 65. This practice will help protect your pipes in the wintertime.
  • Keep your outside condenser unit clear to prevent freezing.


  • Be sure attic insulation doesn't cover ventilation vents in the eaves to prevent winter ice dams on the roof.
  • Be sure ridge vents and vents at eaves are free of plants and debris.
  • Check bird and rodent screens for attic vents to prevent any unwanted guests.
  • If your home has foundation vents, they should remain open at all times except in the event of extreme cold.

Landscape and Yard Work

  • Although grass appears to stop growing in the fall, the roots are actually growing deeper to prepare for winter. Now is the best time to fertilize and reseed your lawn.
  • Prune your trees and shrubs after the leaves turn to encourage healthy growth in the spring.
  • Trim any tree limbs that are dangerously close to power lines or the roof of your house. Heavy snow and ice can cause damage in the winter.

Deicing Tips

  • Do not use rock salt on concrete surfaces. The use of salt can lead to concrete deterioration, which is not covered by your warranty.
  • Do not use kitty litter on concrete driveways. The use of this product will have an adverse reaction to the concrete. Please consult your local hardware store for a deicing agent that they recommend.
  • If you wash your car to remove salt or deicing compounds placed on local streets, please remember that it is equally important to hose down your driveway afterwards to remove any harmful compounds.

General Tips

  • During extremely cold weather, you may consider leaving indoor faucets located on exterior walls dripping.
  • Place the emergency numbers for the electrician, plumber, and heating contractor in a convenient location. When the holidays arrive, some of these contractors will be open for emergencies only.
  • Remember to open the damper on the fireplace when using it. As you leave the room, be sure to close the glass doors on the fireplace to keep any sparks created by the fire in the firebox.
  • Remember always to keep drain covers open at your areaways (also called welled exits or walk ups).
  • If you are going to be away longer than a week, turn your water heater to the "Vacation" setting.



Re-Blogged 3 times:

Re-Blogged By Re-Blogged At
  1. Susan Laxson CRS 11/03/2009 04:08 AM
  2. Delete Acct Desert Communities 11/03/2009 05:43 AM
  3. Delete Account 11/03/2009 11:09 PM
  4. Delete Acct Real Estate 11/04/2009 10:48 PM
  5. Debbie Walsh 11/07/2009 01:18 AM
  6. Kathleen Cooper 11/07/2009 06:02 AM
Home Improvement
home maintenance
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Susan Laxson CRS
HomeSmart Professionals - La Quinta, CA
Local Knowledge & Global Network

Excellent tips to help our clients, friends and family to save money.  Thanks for sharing the list with us!

Nov 03, 2009 03:42 AM #1
Yogesh Karki
Signature Realtors, Inc. - Springfield, VA

Good tip. Thanks for sharing.

Nov 03, 2009 04:01 AM #2
Lani Sussman
Max Broock Realtors - Birmingham, MI
MI. Specialist - Oakland County

Very complete - I just posted an article about what to do after you've done all the things you suggest - to survive a power outage!  Take a look -

Nov 04, 2009 08:44 AM #3
Kathleen Cooper
Kathleen Cooper, Sposato Realty Group - Worcester, MA
Sposato Realty Group - Broker Owner

Very good information here!  This is something that is very important in our area as well. I'll have to share your post with my community, very well written.



Nov 07, 2009 06:01 AM #4
Lennar Corporation
Miami, FL

Thanks everyone for the great comments and for sharing our Lennar winterizing tips with others.

Kay L. Howard, Director of Communications, Lennar

Nov 07, 2009 11:31 PM #5
Tina Gleisner
Home Tips for Women - Portsmouth, NH
Home Tips for Women

Thanks for sharing

Nov 12, 2009 01:16 AM #6
Charlie Berg

Good info.!

Dec 16, 2009 07:24 AM #7
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