How to make your house fit for winter: The 10 most important tips for homeowners

Autumn is here, winter is coming. How fit is your home for the upcoming cold season? This time of year can take a toll on your property and your wallet. With temperatures dropping, it's time to winterize your home. Protect your home from the cold, snow and wet with this helpful checklist.


Haus im Winter

1 Good and regular shock ventilation

Whether summer or winter, fresh air must enter the house even in the cold months. But proper ventilation at cool temperatures is not so easy. If you do it too little, high humidity inside the house will cause mold to form. Airing for too long drives up heating costs. The solution is regular airing. It is best to open the windows wide instead of just tilting them. It is even more effective if you open opposite windows to generate a draught. In winter, five to ten minutes at the most is enough for the airing and it should be repeated up to three times a day.

2 Check the facade - close cracks

What the winter coat is for you, the intact building envelope is for your home: it is central to good protection in winter. Check the envelope before winter sets in so that any damage can be repaired in good time. If you find fine cracks or if the facade is chipped in some places, you should repair the corresponding areas before the first frost. In case of frost, the cracks may possibly increase, making later repair measures more expensive. In addition, a leaky envelope causes energy and heat loss, and moisture penetration can cause further damage such as mold.

3 Check roof and gutters

In winter, a good, tight roof over your head is especially important. Do a visual inspection yourself and have a professional do regular roof inspections to look for loose tiles as well as leaks. If moisture penetrates, the structure of the entire roof truss can be damaged in the long run. Moisture can also lead to poor insulation and mold. So prevent roof and building fabric damage when snow falls.

Also, clean out gutters and water drains and carefully clear them of autumn leaves. This will prevent melt water from draining properly, penetrating the masonry and damaging the facade.

4 Have draughty windows and doors repaired

Warm air can escape outside due to leaky windows and doors, and the cold outside air enters the house through cracks. Valuable heating energy is lost and energy consumption and costs increase.

The seals and closing mechanism of windows and doors are definitely worth checking. If the windows do not close tightly, they need to be readjusted. Rubber seals should also be checked and replaced if necessary. In addition, it is important to check the hinges on windows and doors and readjust them if necessary. Drafts under doors should also be stopped. If there is a large gap, for example, a brush seal under the edge of the door can help. Also remember to close basement and laundry room windows.

5 Check the heating system and individual radiators

Have the entire system serviced by a specialist during the winter. Regular maintenance increases the service life of the heating system and reduces energy costs. Cost-intensive defects will be detected early (e.g. a flow temperature that is set too high) and corrected by a professional. Do you have an oil heating system? Order heating oil early to avoid long waiting times and sometimes higher prices in winter.

Also vent every single radiator. If there is air in them, the maximum temperature can no longer be reached and heating energy is wasted. If you hear "gurgling" noises, the heating system must be vented.

6 Check the insulation of heating pipes and water pipes.

It pays to insulate heating and water pipes that run above ground. Have the insulation repaired if necessary.

7 Protect water pipes in and around the house

Make sure pipes in unheated rooms as well as outdoors stop carrying water when temperatures drop below freezing. At temperatures around freezing, water lines can freeze and damage pipes. Drain pipes that can freeze completely before the first frost. If it still happens that a pipe freezes, call a plumber immediately.

8 Check outdoor lighting

Are the attached outdoor lights working properly? Especially for stairs, driveways or garages it is worth checking. Also check possible twilight switches and motion detectors. Good lighting reduces the risk of accidents and contributes to burglary protection.

9 Winterize the garden

Store garden items such as plant pots, patio furniture, garden hoses, buckets, etc. over the winter. Turn off pond or well pumps. Depending on your garden, it may be worth a visit from your gardener for a winter pruning. Pack delicate plants well or place them in a protected location.

10 Provide snow shovel, broom and grit

As a homeowner:in, you are responsible for "clearing" the sidewalk in front of your property of snow and ice in a timely and thorough manner. Have a suitable snow shovel, broom and grit ready.