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Winterizing Your Home the Right Way

House Covered in Snow

Photo credit:Flickr/John Lemieux

Winterizing Your Home the Right Way

By Carolyn Hauck on December 18, 2014

Whether you’re a snowbird who heads south for the winter, or own a second home in a cold climate, winterizing your home for cold weather is checklist item #1 before you pack up and leave.

Winterizing basics

1)    Unplug all appliances to avoid any potential fire hazards in the wiring. This includes microwaves, toaster, coffee pots, TVs, computers, and lamps—anything plugged in that won’t be used while the house is empty.

2)    Clean everything out of the refrigerator that could rot while you’re away.

3)    Make sure all trashcans, inside and out, are empty to keep rodents and bugs away.

4)    Seal up dry goods in the pantry in airtight containers.

5)    Strip the beds of sheets so that the mattresses can air out. 

6)    Hot water heaters, electric and gas, should be turned off.

7)    Thoroughly clean the house to keep rodents and bugs away.

8)    Have a neighbor or friend keep an eye on your house. Periodic visits to sweep fallen leaves and collect leaflets at the door can help keep your house look like it’s being occupied.

Protecting against bursting pipes

The biggest concern most people have when leaving a home for several months is having their home’s pipes burst from freezing temperatures. A Home Improvement expert on JustAnswer details the best way to guard against freezing pipes:

1)    First off, set your thermostat to 50-55 degrees to keep the house temperature from dropping to freezing.

2)    Turn the water off at the meter. You can get a tool for this at Lowes or Home Depot for about $8.

3)    Open the outside faucets and open all of the faucets inside so that the water will empty out of the water lines.

4)    Pour biodegradable marine anti-freeze in every drain, including the washing machine drain and toilets.

5)    Close all of the drains to the sinks and toilet lids. This will keep the water from evaporating. If you can’t close a certain drain, just lay a piece of paper over the drain, making sure the surface is very dry and the paper does not get wet.

6)    Leave the taps open so that if some water does get trapped in the lines and freezes, the expanding ice doesn’t trap pockets of air. Pipes burst because of trapped air pockets in the ice, not from the ice itself.

Need more winterizing tips for a your home, garage, or RV? Ask a Home Improvement expert to walk you through winterizing step-by-step.