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How to Winterize a House in The Mid-Atlantic Region

Although we are just moving into autumn, the cooler nights and falling leaves remind us that it will soon be winter in DC. Although we’re lucky to have mild days here and there throughout the colder months, we also have our share of snow and bitterly cold temperatures. That means that it’s important to winterize your home in preparation for winter.

Whatever the size of your home, a thorough and thoughtful winterizing plan will help you keep your home’s systems in tip-top condition. It can also help you avoid unpleasant surprises like burst pipes or water lines. In addition, a little forethought and preparation can help keep you and your family safe in the event of a truly brutal cold snap or a power failure.

HVAC Is Priority #1

One of the most important systems in your home during the winter, your HVAC, should have a diagnostic check this fall in preparation for winter use.

The technician will check for leaks, check the blower, and make other adjustments as needed. You may also want the tech to check your ductwork and ensure there are no leaks. If you want to save money, ask about twice-yearly checkup programs. Most HVAC companies have them and they usually discount the service if you are consistent with winter and summer checkups.

Winterize your AC by draining pipes or hoses of water and emptying drip pans to make sure you don’t have water freezing in or under the system. If your central air unit is exposed to the weather, get an air conditioner cover to keep snow and ice off, and prevent rusting.

Make sure you are careful to change your furnace filter each month. If you have a disposable filter, you may want to buy in bulk from Amazon or a home improvement store. If you have a permanent filter, you’ll simply want to clean it each month. Some filters can even be washed in the dishwasher!

This is also a good time to check (and replace, if necessary) smoke and carbon monoxide detectors. Because the house is closed tight and leaky furnaces can create carbon monoxide, winter is an especially important time for this.

Plumbing Is Important Too!

Of course, the home disaster people worry about the most is the dreaded frozen pipe. When the weather is well below zero, it’s important to open cabinet doors and make sure that heated air is circulating well around pipes, as well as leaving the faucet open a bit to ensure water continues to flow.

If your basement is particularly cold, check out insulation options to help pipes there stay warmer and prevent freezing.

Underground or exterior plumbing lines, especially those for sprinkler systems, pools, hot tubs, or other water features, should be emptied and prepared for winter by a technician. This will ensure that you don’t have water running through or sitting in those lines and that they are not freezing, thawing, and refreezing, causing extensive damage (and repair bills).


Chimneys need to be cleaned and inspected whether you have a wood-burning fireplace or a gas one. Ensuring there is no blockage, that the flue is in good order, and that the chimney is structurally sound are all important aspects of not only keeping your chimney and fireplace in good working order but also ensuring the safety of your home and your air quality.

Gutters and Trees

Make sure to have gutters cleaned once the last of those leaves have fallen. A blocked gutter full of water can freeze and create extensive damage, including water damage along the roofline and other openings.

Have a tree company take a look at trees near your home. Heavy snow and ice can weigh them down, causing limbs to break and fall on your house, deck, or car. Get any problem branches trimmed back before they snap.

Create an emergency plan

Do you know what you would do in the event that you lose power with temperatures well below freezing? Do you have an alternate heat source? Do you have an emergency backup battery to keep your phone charged? Do you have a way to heat water or cook? It may be time to invest in a small generator to keep you minimally warm and functional or a whole-house version that can keep it “business as usual” at your house.

In addition, this is a good time to put together a bin with supplies “just in case.” Water, non-perishable food, flashlights, candles, first aid supplies, cash, and other essentials should be all stored together and easily accessible. Often called 72-hour kits, you can put one together yourself or even purchase one already assembled.

Common Sense Strategies

The last thing to think about as you get ready for winter is how to ensure that you keep your home, and yourself, a little toastier without breaking the bank with high utility bills or huge expenses.

Do those old-fashioned draft stopper your grandma used to keep at the door? They really work–and since 5-30% of your energy waste goes out through drafty doors and windows, they are a cost-effective way to keep heating bills under control.

Also, reverse the rotation on your ceiling fans. A clockwise rotation redistributes warm air from the ceiling down into the room, making it feel warmer.

Warming yourself is also a smart way to ensure you can keep your bills under control. A heavy sweater can make the room feel up to four degrees warmer, so you can keep your thermostat set lower. That’s good for the environment and your wallet. Or you can always break out that Snuggie and keep it close at hand.

No matter whether your home is big or small, a smart winterization plan can be implemented gradually and is incredibly cost-effective. And if you’re looking for a cozy place to snuggle in and hunker down this winter, sign in at our website and let one of our Eng Garcia real estate pros help you find just the right place to call home.


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