8 Ways To Winterize Your Home Stat!

Posted by Key2See Team on December 1, 2021

8 Ways To Winterize Your Home Stat!

December is already here and the first day of winter is only a matter of weeks away, when did that happen?!  Do you ever stop and realize you are that person that now talks regularly about time flying?  I digress…  We have seen more than our fair share of rain this fall in the Pacific Northwest, and we may not be in for much snowfall in the coming months, but this is a great time of the year to stop and assess what needs to be done around the house to prevent issues in the seasons to come.

Below is a list of 8 things that need your attention, and now...

1. Check your filters (furnace and dryer)
2. Check for drafts
3. Inspect your gas & woodburning fireplaces and chimney/vents
4. Check the batteries in your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors
5. Make sure you are prepared in the event of a winter storm.
6. Winterize the exterior – pipes, yard and landscape
7. Clean those gutters …and inspect the roof
8. Fill ‘er up

Read on…

1. Check your filters (furnace and dryer)

It’s important to check the filter in your furnace and vents at least once a month throughout the winter when it’s working away, it will help ensure that the air in your house is clean and dust-free, more importantly, it helps prevent fires. 

For this reason, check the filter on your dryer and the venting from the dryer as well…

I am going to take a little time to explain this one as it was the culprit of a recent house fire in Tacoma that has was a complete loss for that family.

The single most common cause of dryer-related fires is lint buildup in the filter.  I know I’ve been guilty of starting the dryer in a hurry without checking this first!  In most cases, it won’t cause a problem, but on rare occasion, it can start a fire due to excessive heat.  So yes, we should be in the habit of checking this every time we throw in a load of laundry.  Just yesterday I had an oversized white comforter in the dryer and due to the heat a portion of the blanket was lightly brown, like a toasted marshmallow, scary!

A clogged exhaust vent is another common cause of fires in dryers.  When that exhaust duct gets clogged (line, dryer sheets, even clothes… I now know where all the other socks have gone), it prevents the hot air from getting out and allows a buildup of gases that can be dangerous.  Clothes dryers must have an open, functional channel for the hot air to escape.  So, inspect and make sure that there is an unobstructed line from the dryer to the exterior of your home… my husband recently discovered that our dryer was venting in an unsafe way into our crawl space, so grateful to have discovered this before a problem arose!

Signs of a clogged dryer exhaust:
-unusual odor coming from inside the dryer
-clothes coming out of the dryer wet
-the dryer sounding a little “off” while running
-the duct won’t stay attached to the wall
(duct being the slinky looking tube coming out the back, much like the ones we’d crawl through as kids)
-visible buildup of lint stuck in and around the duct

2. Check for drafts

I am not referring to fantasy football, sorry to disappoint… But, cold air drafts leaking in around doors and windows is a major contributor to your heating bill.  An easy way to reduce that bill is to minimize these drafts by sealing the offending areas with weatherstripping and caulk.


  1. Inspect caulking: Look around the outside moldings of door frames, and add new exterior-grade caulking if necessary.
  2. Inspect and replace any failed weatherstripping: Check the weatherstripping around doors, including the door sweep attached to the bottom of the door. 
  3. Check for air leaks: Feel around doors for air coming in, and use rope caulk where applicable to seal gaps. 


  1. Inspect the outside moldings: Look around windows for damaged or missing caulking. Use a good-quality exterior caulk to seal any gaps you find. 
  2. Check old windows: Windows with traditional glazing putty holding the glass panes in the frames might have seen the putty crack and fall out. Reglaze any windows that have missing glazing putty. 
  3. Inspect window tracks: Clean the tracks of any debris that might be interfering with seals. 
  4. Inspect the locking mechanisms: Make sure they work adequately. You will want to lock them securely once winter sets in. 
  5. Check for air leaks: On a day when it's windy outside, close your windows and feel for air leaks. Typically, leaks will be found at the edges where the window is hinged, slides, or meets another unit. You can tape plastic over windows to seal them, but this can be expensive and rather unattractive. A better and easier solution is to use inexpensive rope caulk to seal leaks. Press the rope to caulk into all the joints where the air is leaking.

3. Inspect your gas & woodburning fireplaces and chimney/vents

It’s important to check your chimney for debris and cracks, keep an eye out for creosote buildup which can be a major fire hazard.

What exactly is creosote you ask?  Creosote is a byproduct of wood combustion that consists mainly of tar.  Traces of creosote are found in the smoke that rises from open flames; when the smoke travels upward and mixes with the cold are and water near the top of the chimney, it solidifies and sticks to the chimney liner.  The main issue is that creosote is extremely flammable…as that amount increases in your chimney flue so does your risk of a chimney fire, which soon becomes a house fire.  So whether your woodburning fireplace is indoors or out it’s a great idea to have it cleaned by a professional chimney sweep as often as once a year if you use it quite frequently, think Mary Poppins!

So if you are thinking, well I have a gas fireplace… I’m off the hook you are wrong.  Gas fireplaces require cleaning and seasonal TLC as well!

Many of the fireplaces would have care instructions in the manuals, or online if you seem to have lost that one, a common story in my house.

  1. Check the gas fireplace vent to make sure it’s not clogged with debris, starting the fire without doing this could create a fire hazard or cause unsafe levels of carbon monoxide in your home
  2. Check the glass covering, this isn’t only for aesthetics, the glass also keeps those unsafe levels of carbon monoxide from entering your home. So make sure those hinges are tightened and working properly.
  3. Clean the logs and rocks and dust the blower, though this dust isn’t typically a fire hazard avoiding these chores can cause an unpleasant smell and dust to be blown about the house.
  4. Evaluate the pilot light, make sure the wires aren’t exposed and everything seems to be in good working order.
  5. Finally, it’s a great idea to have your gas fireplace inspected by a licensed professional… and in all reality, this won’t likely happen annually but it’s a good idea to put it on your radar. A word to the wise, schedule this during the summer months when these professionals aren’t triple booked, as they are in the fall and winter months – as I have discovered recently!

4. Check the batteries in your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors

Make sure all smoke and carbon monoxide detectors in your home are working tip-top, and replace batteries as needed. I know we all lose track of the last time this was done, so changing of the seasons is always a good time.  This is the time of year that the furnaces really kick on and it’s said that heating causes 27% of structure fires during the winter months, so best be safe and check!  You will thank yourself for doing it in advance of those batteries failing and announcing that they need to be changed around 2 am when you are sound asleep… and why is it always so difficult to determine which one is the culprit at that moment!

5. Make sure you are prepared in the event of a winter storm.

We don’t tend to need to gas up our snow blowers or keep our shovels handy like many places do in the coming months but as we Pacific Northwesterners know the rain can do plenty of damage without freezing temps complicating things.  With the great amount of rain we’ve seen and likely will see in the season to come it’s important to be prepared for trees coming down due to saturated soil and the strong winds that kick up.  Often taking power lines down with them!  So make sure you are stocked with the essentials

  1. Flashlights with batteries
  2. Bottled water
  3. Non-perishable food
  4. First-aid supplies
  5. Blankets and warm clothes
  6. A smartphone charger
  7. …and maybe the number of a friend that has a generator hooked up

6. Winterize the exterior – pipes, yard, and landscape

During the winter, it’s common for pipes to freeze and potentially burst, which can cause obvious damage to the home.  Before those temps drop, prepare your pipes and protect them from the cold.  Make sure to disconnect garden hoses from outdoor faucets, and insulate and outdoor pipes, pick up those handy hose bib insulators at your local hardware store.

The sprinkler system should not be overlooked when getting your house ready for winter.  Many local landscapers and yard services would be quick to tell you that it’s important to blow the lines of the sprinkler system before temperatures drop, leaving the water to freeze and crack the pipes.  A YouTube video can walk you through doing this yourself if you like or call on a local professional to take care of it for you.

It is also a great time to cover that outdoor furniture and save it from the green layer that you’ll find on it if left until spring. Turn off the water to fountains and store pumps as well as other landscaping tools that may be left out in the weather.

But, before you put your lawn equipment away for the season remember to drain the gas – gas goes bad, and come spring the old gas can gunk up the system and make your equipment janky. So, get rid, or use a fuel stabilizer if you want to keep it on hand… this goes for your weed eater and pressure washer as well.  All this equipment adds up, take the time to protect the investment.

7. Clean those gutters …and inspect the roof

Yes, this is typically a fall chore but it's amazing to me how the leaves just keep falling.  Cleaning the gutters of sticks, pinecones, leaves will keep the rain flowing off and ideally away from your house.  Make sure those downspouts are directed away from the foundation to prevent basement leaks, flooding, and foundational issues… all of which equate to massive $$$ in repair!

There shouldn’t be any standing water around your home… if there is water pooling, inspect.  Make sure all drainage is doing its job of moving water away from the house.

While we are on the topic of keeping the house water-tight, make sure to inspect your roof for any issues or missing/damaged shingles.  Also, check the flashing around the fireplace (or other projections), any of these issues can seriously jeopardize the materials of your home. Water can be so very destructive, and it just doesn’t take much.  As is evident with a current client and the three roofs on their new property that need to be replaced due to faulty materials and flashing.7

8. Fill ‘er up

Many people in our area have propane tanks that run their furnaces, fireplaces, stovetops, and more.  Make sure you know just how much you’ve got in the tank before the cold months hit and you find yourself without the fuel to run your important systems.

For those that depend on their fireplaces for backup heat, make sure you are stocked up on firewood and/or pellets.  Once you’ve made use of your Christmas tree you’ll be out of luck!  So order it now and have it delivered so that it can be nice and dry and ready to crackle!

So there you have it, 8 things you can do this month to make sure your house is ready for the winter season ahead… leaving you to enjoy those blustery evenings in a warm house without the concern of damage befalling your largest investment, your home.