How to winterize the home

How to winterize the home

**This post is sponsored by on behalf of Erie Insurance**

It is true, winter is here! I enjoy the snow here in Wisconsin during the holiday season. But we have a long winter ahead of us here and there is surprisingly a lot that needs to get done to maintain a home during winter. Which is why I am sharing How to winterize the home. 

How to winterize your home. Tips, home maintenance ideas and check list to keep a home safe all year long.

I grew up in Southern California, winter consisted of a few days in December that dipped to maybe 50 degrees at night. For the most part is stayed a warm, sunny, and wonderful 75 degrees. Now that I live in Wisconsin, winter is a whole other kind of beast. Purchasing our home made me realize how much there is to prepare for the cold season.

When I say cold, I mean frigid! Winter temperatures here typically stay around 10-20 degrees, yes that is average. But, it can get down to -20 if we are lucky! This kind of cold hits you hard, takes your breath away and makes it feel like there is a chill in the air even in your home no matter how many blankets you cuddle up with. So I take some extra steps to keep my home feeling toasty without jacking the heat up to insane levels.

Before I get into the nitty gritty of winterizing the home I wanted to highlight a really important factor to a home that most do not talk about. Making sure you are protected with home owners insurance is a must! From weekend projects to major renovations… you’ve worked hard (and invested a lot) to make your house a home. That’s why you deserve homeowners insurance from a company you trust to protect it.

Erie Insurance is not only a great home owners insurance company, but they are also sharing a ton of tips to winterize and maintain a home. You can find topics such as A Dozen Easy Ways to Keep Cold Air from Entering Your House. 

We try to be as cost effective as possible, and also try to be very aware of our waste and energy usage. So I try to minimize cranking up the heat, I am able to do this by being on top of any drafts in my home. We have three doors that lead outside, the front door, back door and garage door.

One of the best ways to minimize drafts is by checking and replacing any worn weather stripping and caulking any cracks. For loose-fitting doors, slide a draft guard or rolled-up towel underneath to fill the gap. I replaced the weather strip in the doors, it was a quick and painless DIY that gave me instant results when standing by the door.

front door weather protection

After the weather strip was replaced there was much less of a draft, the wood flooring by the door was typically cold. But once replaced it was not cold anymore.

new door weather strip after

As I said before, you do not have to get fancy either. Place a towel under the door can do wonders to make sure no cold drafts make it through and into the house. There is other places in the home that cold drafts can sneak into the home.

 Here’s a list of quick fixes for drafty places:

  • Outlets and switch plates: Use foam-insulating sheets to block cold air coming in from
    exterior walls
  • Exposed ducts: Check your attic, basement, and crawl spaces and use sealant to plug up
    any leaks or cracks on exposed ducts.
  • Floors: Don’t underestimate the power of a thick, cozy rug. Your floors can account for as
    much as 10 percent of heat loss in a house.

The next step in how to winterize the home is to check your fireplace and flue system to remove soot or ashes. Check for cracks that could be a fire hazard. Also, examine the fireplace for drafts. If it’s cold despite the damper being closed, the damper itself may need to be repaired or replaced.

We love using our fireplace this time of year, it is the one positive about it getting darker earlier. There is nothing cozier than relaxing by the warm fire and having the glow of it fill up the living room. However, if you’re not planning on using your fireplace at all, invest in a chimney balloon to block the opening.  Most importantly, know what fixes are safe for you to tackle and what should be in the hands of a certified chimney sweep with training and proper equipment.

While you’re in the process of prepping your house for the long winter, check smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors to ensure they are in good working order. There should be one smoke detector by every bedroom and on every floor of the home. Most homes come equipped with smoke detectors, but most do not come with carbon monoxide detectors. I purchased ours from a home improvement store and attached it to the wall. We also have one by every bedroom and one in the basement.

Also, with the increased risk of fire in winter, it’s important to have a family escape plan. My family has an escape plan, we have had difficult conversations with our kids about what they should do in case of a fire and where they should go. I have walked them through needing to go out a bedroom window, if they can make it to the front door, or if they need to go out through the garage. I am gentle with my approach to the tough conversations. My goal is to make them prepared and not to scare them. We have also stressed that they should never be scared of firemen if one comes into the home to help them. With small kids making sure they are informed about emergencies can actually be comforting to them. It also lets this Mama rest a little easier knowing they know what to do in case of a fire.

Now that the inside is taken care of, let’s move outside to get the home ready for winter. It is insane to me the kind of weather whiplash we go through during the year. Our home withstands -20 degree temperatures with snow piled on, tons of rain in spring, and hot and humid summers with temperatures up to a sticky 90 degrees.

The home’s exterior has to withstand a lot. In winter snow can be a heavy burden for an old or damaged roof to handle. Before winter hits, inspect your roof for signs of potential problems, like missing, broken, blistered or curling shingles; cracked caulk or rust spots; or large patches of moss. Any damaged, loose, or missing shingles should be repaired right away.

Also, be sure to check the roof during the snowy season, invest in a snow rake to help clear your roof. Snow accumulation on your roof that exceeds 20 to 25 pounds per square foot can be dangerous.

The benefit of maintaining the roof in this way is that most little repairs like one or two shingles can be done DIY style. Ignoring these smaller issues can lead to snow leaking into the attic and causing major water damage. Stay on top of the small problems before they turn into big ones!

Let’s talk trees and landscaping! It is important to know how to spot the signs of a diseased or dying tree. Heavy snow and strong winter winds can knock down weak branches (or whole trees), so it’s best to do the prep work while the weather’s still mild.We unfortunately had to cut down a dead tree in our front yard. It was the biggest and most beautiful but it began dying. We brought in a tress specialist to try and save it, but there was no saving it.

The first sign of a problem was a few branches no longer had leaves on them and the branches started to darken. We got some help from friends and cut the tree down ourselves. We purchased a tiny baby tree that our kids helped to plant in replacement for the other tree. It will take it a while before it gets big, but knowing it is a healthy tree makes all of the difference. Now we have firewood for the winter and we have the comfort of knowing the tree will not fall onto our house!

What do you do if a tree on your property falls in your neighbor’s yard? Trees can be tricky, but for the most part homeowners are responsible for what falls into their own yard.

Before the first snow, you’ll be glad you thought ahead and bought supplies early. Inspect the bolts, belts and parts on your snowblower; make sure your snow shovel is in good shape; stock up on ice melt or sand. We had to purchase a new snowblower just a few days ago. Ours was over 10 years old and gave out last winter.

We knew it needed to be replaced but completely forgot about that until it was forecast for us to get almost 1 foot of snow! Dale and I had to go out and shovel the heavy and wet snow from the driveway because we had not planned ahead and gotten the new snowblower yet. Don’t do what we did! Plan ahead, check your equipment and have it all ready to go.

I don’t know about you, but this time of year around the holidays is insanely busy. We are running all over, have so much on our schedule and to-do list. Not being prepared for winter  beforehand can leave you in a bad place fast. No snowblower with 1 foot of snow, cold drafts coming through the doors, leaky roofs because of a back up of snow. Be sure to check out even more winter home maintenance tips that Erie Insurance is sharing. Now that my home is ready for winter the hibernating can commence!

Do not discount how much having the right homeowners insurance can give peace of mind. Our home is filled with love, laughter, family and friends this time of year. All while we are making memories and Mother Nature gives us it’s best go with a winter wonderland. So many little things can pop up, which is why being prepared before winter hits is best! I shared How to winterize the home so that we all can enjoy this season without worrying about our home. Making sure it is safe, protected and toasty warm!







  1. Thanks for the great tips!!!..It reminded me I need to get the foam covers for my outlets!!!
    ….and did you switch your rooms back? …and I see a barn door!!!!! Love them!!!!
    Merry Christmas?

  2. Wonderful tips and beautiful home!! I do miss snow. Just a little bit. I live in Central Florida now and we have to prepare for things only someone from the deep south experience.

  3. What a beautiful winder wonderland! Your home is gorgeous. I live in south Texas so we don’t get the harsh winters, but there are definitely steps to take for the harsh summers!

  4. I love that you’re talking about fire safety this time of year. Every single Christmas season there seems to be at least one fire tragedy in our area and it is so very sad.

  5. There are so many great tips here! Some that c save you time and money and others that save your life, but all of them so very important!

  6. Being in Michigan, Winterizing the home is quite important. I grew up putting up plastic in the windows just to cut down on any drafts there. Thank you for the great tips

  7. I need to put some plastic up on some windows and get a screen door! I think that will really help.

  8. Man oh man! You are a wealth of knowledge on this subject! Even though we live in Texas and don’e experience the harsh weather you do we sure don’t have to do what you do but we do have harsh summers and winters are getting colder and colder every year so these tips are VERY helpful!

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