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Home Wise & Winterize Guide

Home wise & winterize like a pro. It’s time to weatherproof your home and prepare for seasonal buyers. Around Pittsburgh, seasons transition quickly, but the housing market remains warm even when the temperature drops below zero.

Morning frost is a good indication that Winter is just around the corner, so before flurries begin to fly, take time to prepare the inside and outside of your home for Winter.

home wise & winterize precipitation

Source: NOAA, National Weather Service Climate Precipitation Center

Home wise & winterize Like A Pro

Winter temperatures around Pittsburgh are becoming more and more unstable partly because of La Niña.  Unpredictable precipitation patterns of heavy rain, sleet, snow, and ice fueled by harsh cold winds from the North are forecasted to saturate Southwestern Pennsylvania.

As cold air gusts across the Great Lakes, heavy snow can accumulate on the roof of the house. Excessive weight can stress the framing and force unimaginable pressure down to the foundation.

A house that is not ready for Pittsburgh’s unpredictable weather conditions and extreme cold can suffer severe damage. Why risk ice dams, roof cave-ins, leaks, foundation cracks, frozen waterlines, and ruptured pipes? Be home wise & winterize.

But even in less severe climates, thoughtful preparation for changing seasons can help your home feel comfortable in the Winter while keeping Mother Nature’s frozen hands away from your wallet.

Home Wise & Winterize Before It’s Cold Outside

When the weather starts to fluctuate, think home wise & winterize. Winter wrap your house, especially if the temperature is lower than the seasonal average.

Every season, Foundations Property Inspection reports weather-related damage to many beautiful homes because of inadequate cold weather preparation and protection. Unfortunately, this is a sure way to give hot buyers cold feet.

Home Wise & Winterize Guide

Here you will find professional winterizing suggestions for preparing your home for cold weather and seasonal house-hunters. And some great techniques to help prevent damage, avoid expensive repairs, and showcase your house for Winter buyers.

Take Your Time To Be Home Wise & Winterize

Rushing around trying to prepare your house for Winter can be overwhelming. It requires a little planning. Separate the plan into stages. Break down the house, garage, and lawn buildings to find common areas to winterize. Focus on the exterior before the weather becomes too cold, then move inside.

Home Wise & Winterize The Exterior

Keep the cold weather on the outside of the house. Start at the top and work your way down to the foundation.

Chimney & Fireplace

Check and repair any cracks in the chimney, cap, and flashing. Hire a professional chimney sweep clean and remove any soot and creosote buildup in the stack. Have the inspector thoroughly examine the firebox and chimney flue for hairline cracks or operational issues that may go undetected by a regular homeowner. Check the safety screen on the fireplace to make sure it slides and closes completely.

Need more help? Check our Professional Home Inspector’s Comprehensive Real Estate Chimney Inspection Guide.


Visually inspect the roof. Schedule a Home Inspection if you are not comfortable with heights or accessing the roof. Replace or repair missing, separated, cracked, or peeling shingles. Make sure the flashing is tight and sealed. Insulation and airflow are critical for the health of your roof in the Wintertime, so make certain there is good attic ventilation. 

Soffit, Fascia & Siding

Inspect the soffit and fascia. Look for warping, separation, cracking, peeling, or blistered paint. Pay particular attention to any areas that may be chewed or penetrated by rodents. Use weatherproof exterior silicone to caulk and seal open gaps.

Check the cladding and trim covering the exterior of the house and secure loose siding.

Scrape off loose paint and cover with a weather-tight sealer. Remove loose caulking and refill gaps and voids.

downspouts & rain gutters

Clear downspouts and remove leaves and debris from rain gutters. Realign, level, and secure the channels to prevent water buildup and ice jams. Direct downspout water runoff away from the house to avoid standing water and hydraulic pressure on the foundation.

You may want to know how to prevent Rainwater Runoff Damage.

Home Wise & Winterize Doors & Windows

Check entry doors, garage doors, and windows for easy operation. Feel for drafts. Look for wobbly frames, fractured glass panes, and deteriorated air strips. Replace or install new airtight weatherstripping and caulk as needed.

Home Wise & Winterize Porch & Deck

Bitter cold, rain, sleet, snow, and ice can penetrate the porch and deck surfaces and leave it in disrepair. Check the porch and deck for rotted wood, splitting boards, lifting nails, rickety handrails, and saggy steps. Regular maintenance and simple repairs can help make Winter preparation easy.

Safeguard Hard Surface Areas

Inspect retaining walls, driveways, porches, sidewalks, and other concrete structures for evidence of cracking, chipping, or decay. Reseal any suspect areas to prevent water penetration and expansion once frozen.

Home Wise & Winterize Warring

Carbon monoxide is an invisible, odorless gas that can escape from the fireplace, and/or natural gas appliances. Poisonous gas can get trapped in your house and reach unhealthy levels throughout the wintertime.

Now is the time to change batteries, test, or install smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors. Check the expiration date. If the smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors are expired, throw them away and purchase new ones from your favorite home improvement center. Early detection of smoke and carbon monoxide is critically important. After all, your family’s life may depend on it.

Common winter carbon monoxide sources

  1. Chimney Crack
  2. Chimney Soot & Creosote Buildup
  3. Chimney Flute
  4. Fireplace
  5. Gas Stove & Oven
  6. Furnace
  7. Hot Water Tank
  8. Gas Dryer
  9. Automobiles
  10. Gas Grill
  11. Gas Powered Generators

Close Crawlspace Ventilation

Shut crawlspace vents to keep the Winter wind outside and away from your subfloor. During the Winter, open foundation vents act as a wind tunnel forcing ice cold through the crawlspace and freezing your water pipes.

Home Wise & Winterize Hose Bibs & Valves

Detach lawn and garden hoses from outside water spigots. Stretch out the hoses to drain the water. Once thoroughly dry, coil and store for the season inside the garage or shed. Shut off the water supply for all exterior spigots and bibs.

Most often, the main internal water shutoff valve is located in the basement or crawlspace. Once the inside valves are closed, open the exterior water spigots and bibs to bleed the water lines.

Cover outside water spigots and hose bibs with insulated foam caps to protect them from the elements.

Waterline Precautions

Wrap unprotected water pipes with insulation foam or thermal tape. Locate the main public water service shutoff valve for the home. The shutoff is usually located in the yard near the curb. If you experience a water line rupture and the basement valve malfunctions, terminate the water at the main public water service valve near the curb.

Home Wise & Winterize To Keep The Heat

Lower your thermostat to a comfortable setting, but do not turn the heat off. Cold temperatures are harmful to a house. Building materials expand and contract at different temperatures and can crack the foundation, split walls, freezer pipes, and much more. Trapped moisture cannot dry or evaporate, saturate insulation, destroy framing, cause mold and become a hidden breeding ground for wood-destroying insects.

Furnace Filter & Vents

Change the furnace filter and reverse the air supply vents for optimum air circulation because heat rises and cold air falls.

Get the heating system and furnace inspected by a licensed HVAC technician before the Winter snowstorms arrive. No heat and below zero temperatures are dangerous conditions for a house.

Winter Weather Wrap Up Cover

Before Jack Frost comes nipping at your nose have a licensed plumbers inspect your water tank and make sure it’s operating properly. Calcium and sediment can coat the inside of the water tank and burn out the heating element. Cover older hot water tanks with an insulation blanket or winter weather wrap to reduce heat loss and fuel consumption.

Home Wise & Winterize The Lawn

When the right buyer visits, you want your lawn to look as good as possible. Mulch Fall leaves into the grass for additional Winter nutrition. Before the frost arrives, aerate, fertilize, and throw grass seed in bare spots. Plant perennial bulbs to add colorful spring flowers around your house.

Trim Dead Limbs

Downpours and freezing rain can stick on tree branches. Ice is heavy and will pin weak limbs to the ground and snap strong trees. Have an arborist trim and remove precarious branches that could damage your house.

House Smart & Winterize Lawn Equipment

After the leaves are gone and the yard is neat, prepare the lawn equipment for winter storage. Drain, lubricate, fog the engines, and stabilize the fuel in the lawnmower, weed eater, leaf blower, chain saw, and other gas running machines. Local small engine repair shops can help prepare gas power tools for winter storage. Even stabilized, gas-powered tools are flammable. Keep all gas-powered lawn tools and equipment in a shed or outbuilding.

Cold Hard Facts About Winter Weather Cover Up

Pittsburgh is a hot real estate market. Winter is an excellent time to list a house. Serious buyers watch the Winter market because inventory is low, and there is less competition to buy.

Get an affordable Pre-Listing Home Inspection and prepare your house early to take full advantage of the Winter real estate season. Show buyers that your home is beautiful and able to protect their family even in harsh Winter conditions.

Be Home Wise & Winterize

Naturally, this guide is only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to Winter weather wrap up. Every home is different. Location, age, building materials, and condition require different methods to winterize real estate properly.

Your friendly handyman is not a licensed and certified Home Inspector, and some problems may go undetected. That could spell big trouble. Contact Foundations Property Inspection to schedule a Professional Home Inspection. Our certified and licensed Home Inspectors examine nearly every nook and cranny of the house.

Get a detailed Home Inspection report in less than 48 hours, and Winter weather wrap your house. Be Home Wise & Winterize to avoid Old Man Winter and costly repairs.