Preparing your house for winter

For the most part WATER is your big enemy during the cold winter.  Pipes can freeze and burst causing massive damage not just immediately but smaller leaks can go unnoticed and cause damage and unhealthy conditions over time.  Also, frozen water in the gutters and overhangs can cause damage to fascia boards, soffits and rafter tails.  High energy bills can also be a concern in winter especially in older buildings.

Some easy ways to protect your home from the damaging and uncomfortable winter months are as follows:


Make sure you unhook hoses from the hose bib.  Even if the spigot is an ani-freeze it can still burst if the water in the hose freezes.  Turn off the spigot when not in use and cover with something that will insulate from the cold.

Blowing off the roof and cleaning out the gutters will help protect against water backing up due to clogged downspouts and ice damming at the soffits and overhangs.  The soffits and overhangs are not insulated by the attic and can remain frozen as the heat from the attic melts the rest of the roof.  This as well as debris that remain frozen can back up the melted water and cause it to enter behind the roofing material.

Check weather stripping on exterior doors.  This includes the garage man door because most garages are considered to be an unconditioned space and do not have a heat source.

Keep blinds closed during the night and on very cold days to add an extra barrier to protect against the radiant cold of the windows and frames.  Even though most windows are double pain and vinyl they are still considered to be a penetration in the overall thermal boundary.  The stagnant air between the window and the blinds can raise the insulative quality of the window by up to R-5 adding to the efficiency of the window and your home overall as well as helping keep away condensation down around the windows.

Close the dampers in wood burning stoves when not in use.  Although there is an equilibrium in the flew or stack that will usually keep cold from entering and heat from exiting in normal conditions this can change if the pressure differences between the inside and outside change due to wind and high pressure systems and even disconnected ductwork within the homes unconditioned spaces.  Wood and gas inserts can also be drafty but more difficult to seal because the drafts don’t come from the insert itself but from around the insert compartment.  Consult your handyman or contractor for the best ways to seal inserts.


These are some simple ways to help keep your home safe from damage and help keep you cozy during the cold winter months in Western Washington.