The Dangerous Potential Pitfalls of Not Winterizing Your Home

Somewhere in Iowa today, a homeowner is taking an autumn afternoon siesta as beautiful leaves fall and unsuspectedly drift into his gutters.

Somewhere in Iowa today, a homeowner is enjoying the latest Harlan Coben novel while that Post-It Note reminding her to check on the state of her exterior plumping and pipes remains unread on a cluttered refrigerator door.

Somewhere in Iowa today, weathered, aging aluminum siding is fading away as its homeowners are entranced by the latest exciting chapter of the Hawkeyes run at a Big Ten football championship.

Literally everywhere in Iowa today, unattended homes are in danger of costly damages and repair bills as their homeowners forget to winterize their most important investment before a typically unpredictable Iowa winter sets in.

“Winterizing your home isn’t only about insuring winter-long warmth and comfort,” It’s Covered writes. “Winterizing your home is also how you protect your home from the potential damage winter weather can cause. Damage from winter’s unforgiving storms and freezing temperatures can be not only inconvenient and costly – but also dangerous.”

There are 1,000 things to do on a crisp autumn Iowa day that winterizing your home, but none will likely be more rewarding or reassuring in the long run. For every day we put off getting our homes ready for the harshest weather of the year, the more we risk the dangers of these Worst Case Scenarios of Not Winterizing Your Home:

  • Interior Pipes Freeze Or Burst
  • Failure to Drain Exterior Plumbing Equals More Burst Pipes
  • Snow, Ice or Wind Storms Could Equal Fallen Trees & Branches
  • Snow & Ice Accumulation Could Equal Roof Leaks or Cave-Ins
  • Clogged Gutters Could Lead to Water Damage to Ceilings & Walls
  • Neglected Exterior Damage Could Lead to Higher Maintenance Costs
  • Poorly Maintained Fireplace Could Increase Fire Risk

“Neglecting to winterize your home and letting small issues pile up can have big repercussions,” the Augusta (GA) Journal warns. 

And just assuming everything is fine with your house without investigating before winter’s first frost hits is a recipe for costly disaster.

“Harboring the assumption that everything is OK for this winter because nothing bad happened last year is the most common error I see happen,” Forbes Advisors Deane Biermeier and Samantha Allen write. “Many people believe the cost savings realized later by winterizing, yet again this fall, won’t be enough to justify the money and effort today.

“Eventually, something bad that could have been prevented, will go wrong.”

The Fallout

Here’s the potential financial fallout for a non-winterized home:

  • Skyrocketing Utility Bills: Utility bills jump enough on their own during winter without a busted heater or clogged, overworked filters spiking them further north. 
  • Carbon Monoxide Lurking Undetected: Without giving your furnace an annual pre-winter checkup, undetected problems causing your heating system, flue, vent or chimney to become block by debris or other material can create the very real, very invisible threat of carbon monoxide.
  • Busted Pipes: Want to see your bank account lose unwanted weight and zeros in a single day? Try dealing with the enormous repair cost of burst pipes.  

The Winterizing Must List

Here’s Our Must 11-Point Home Winterization Checklist

  1. Insulate the Pipes
  2. Fully Inspect Your Furnace
  3. Clean Your Gutters
  4. Replace Air Filters
  5. Check Window Seals
  6. Add Door Barriers
  7. Add Insulation
  8. Get a Programmable Thermostat
  9. Check for Exterior Cracks
  10. Add a Chimney Balloon
  11. Get a Home Energy Audit

The best part of winterizing your home: It’s often cheaper than a night out at the movies, $20 on average. The most assuring part of winterizing your home: the priceless reassurance of knowing your home is ready for whatever winter throws its way.

This is one essential home service project you can’t afford to put off until next year.

“Beyond financial reasons, a homeowner cannot risk the general safety of their family by not winterizing every year,” Biermeier and Allen write. 

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