It can be difficult for homeowners to figure out which projects they can successfully tackle themselves and which ones require a little help from a professional. For winterization projects that will prepare your home for cold weather, it’s important to remember that leaving the big jobs--roofing, insulation, and structural issues-- to the pros will give you peace of mind and potentially save you money in the end. There are few things worse than starting a home project and realizing that you don’t have the tools, materials, or know-how to finish it up correctly.
Starting with a good plan is the first step. Go around your house, both interior and exterior, and make a list of potential projects. Assessing the situation will take a keen eye, so you might consider hiring an inspector to come have a look at anything you’re not comfortable with. Write down any questions you have so you’ll remember to ask them when you’re talking to a professional.
Look Up Top
You can do a preliminary inspection of your roof yourself, but unless you’re an experienced contractor, it’s best to leave the actual job to the pros. To assess whether or not you need help, climb up and look at the shingles. Damaged or missing pieces can be replaced right then and there. However, if there are signs of rot or water intrusion, it’s time to call a roofer and get a quote.
Change the filters
The filters in your A/C and heating units should be changed about once every 30 to 60 days or as soon as they are dirty. Keeping clean filters in place will help your unit run more efficiently and keep your utility bills down because the system won’t be working overtime to push air throughout the home.
Switch your fans
An easy DIY project to help get your home ready for winter is to switch all the ceiling fans to reverse. In summer, they turn in one direction to push cold air down, but if you change their direction in winter, they’ll suck the warm air that has gathered around the ceiling and push it down into your rooms, helping you keep electric bills low and your family nice and toasty.
Clean the gutters
Another easy way to get your home ready for winter is to clean your gutters. This is a good project for every season, but it’s especially important during cold months because it will prevent heavy ice from forming and creating potentially dangerous or damaging clogs. Clear the gutters of leaves and debris and make sure water can flow freely through them and that they are well secured to your home.
Seal the deal
If you really want your home to stay nice and warm this winter, you’ll need to do a perimeter check to determine where air may be infiltrating your space. To do this, simply stand a few inches from a door or window with a small, lit candle. If the fire continues to burn steadily, you’re good. If it flickers and fades, you’ll need to seal air leaks. Weatherstripping is an easy DIY project that requires little more than scissors. Insulation in the attic, garage, and crawlspace may also need replacing. Depending on your comfort level on a ladder, you can do this solo as well. To install rolled (batt) insulation, you’ll need to secure it with special steel rods. In addition to keeping warm air in place, insulation pulls triple duty by acting as a sound barrier andcontrolling humidity, according to EnergyStar.gov.
Winterization projects can make a big difference in annual utility costs and help you keep your family warm and safe at the same time. Start with a list and remember to ask for help when you need it. It’s a good idea to map out a budget and a timeline for each project as you go as well. Staying organized will help you complete any repairs or upgrades in a timely fashion.