How to Prepare Your Home for Winter in Boise, Idaho
As a Boise homeowner, preparing your house for winter is not only practical but also essential for preserving your home. In this in-depth guide, we’ll explore crucial home maintenance tips in Boise by diving into various aspects of winterization. We’ll also shed light on what you can expect from a typical winter in the Treasure Valley.
Winter Weather in Boise, Idaho
Before discussing winterization strategies, it’s crucial to understand the specific challenges posed by Boise’s winter climate. Boise experiences a semi-arid climate with cold, snowy winters. The average annual snowfall in Boise is around 18 inches, with the coldest months typically being December, January, and February. During this time, temperatures can dip well below freezing, and snowfall can vary from light dustings to heavy accumulations. You’re not in California anymore!
During many Boise winters, the city experiences inversions. An inversion is a meteorological phenomenon where cold air becomes trapped beneath warm air. This can result in periods of persistent cold and fog in the valley, making it feel colder than the actual temperature actually is. Inversions can also lead to air quality issues, so it’s important to consider the impact on your indoor air quality when sealing your home during winterization.
Now, let’s explore the various aspects of winterization for your Boise home
Plumbing System: Protecting Against Bursting Pipes
The freezing temperatures in Boise’s winters pose a significant threat to your plumbing system. A burst pipe can wreak havoc on your home, leading to expensive repairs and potential mold issues. To safeguard your plumbing, follow these steps:
- Insulation is Key: Insulate all exposed water pipes in cold-prone areas such as attics, garages, and crawl spaces. Use foam or fiberglass insulation to cover the entire length of the pipe. In Boise, where temperatures can plummet, thorough insulation is your best defense.
- Outdoor Water Supply: Be sure to shut off the water supply to exterior pipes from inside the house and then drain them. This simple step can prevent water from freezing and causing cracks.
- Sprinkler Systems: Boise’s extensive use of sprinkler systems makes them particularly vulnerable to cracking due to cold-weather expansion. Aside from turning them off, consider using compressed air to remove any remaining water from the system. There are many local companies that specialize in sprinkler “blow-outs” during the Fall. If you need a recommendation for a reputable company, feel free to contact us and we can connect you with one of our preferred vendors.
- Maintain Indoor Temperatures: Keep in mind that various parts of your plumbing system travel through areas that are significantly colder than the rest of your home. Controlling the temperature of these areas is nearly impossible, so maintaining an adequate indoor temperature throughout winter is crucial to prevent pipes in unheated spaces from freezing.
How to Make Your Boise Home Energy Efficient
Leaky window and door frames can result in heat loss during the winter, decreasing your home’s energy efficiency. Energy efficiency is key to saving money and keeping your home warm in the winter. This can sometimes be a forgotten step, but it is crucial. This is also something we cover during every one of our home inspections in Boise. To tackle this issue:
- Detect Drafts: On a windy day, carefully inspect your home for drafts. Use your hand or an incense stick to locate areas of leakage. You can address these leaks with simple fixes like weatherstripping, caulking, or using draft stoppers. If you feel up to the task, most of these items can be purchased from your local Home Depot.
- Optimal Insulation: In Boise’s cold climate, your attic can be a significant source of heat loss. Ensure that your attic insulation is at least 12 inches thick to prevent warm air from escaping. It is also a great practice to check your attic for other issues throughout the year, such as pest issues or leaks in your roof. Don’t want to check it yourself? Let us know and one of our trained home inspectors can accomplish this for you.
- Storm Doors and Windows: Installing storm doors and windows can provide an additional layer of insulation, keeping your home cozy and protected from Boise’s freezing weather. They also offer an added layer of security for your home.
Heating and Cooling Systems: Prepare for the Extremes
During the chilly winter months in Boise, your heating and cooling systems assume an indispensable role in not only maintaining the desired indoor comfort but also in safeguarding your well-being and overall quality of life. Boise’s winters can be harsh, with frigid temperatures, biting winds, and snowfall, making it essential to have reliable climate control systems in place.
Your heating system stands as the primary guardian against the bitter cold. It ensures that your home remains warm and cozy, allowing you and your family to escape the harsh outdoor conditions. The efficiency of your heating and cooling systems directly impacts your energy bills.
A well-maintained and optimized system can help you save on energy costs during the winter months. This financial relief can be especially important when you consider the additional expenses often incurred during the holiday season.
Checking your heating system is a key aspect during all of our home inspections. Here are some essential tips you can practice as a homeowner.
- Furnace Check: Before the cold sets in, it’s a good idea to test your furnace by adjusting the thermostat. If it doesn’t respond promptly, consider calling a professional for an inspection. If you’d like a recommendation to one of our preferred vendors, please let us know.
- Air Filter Maintenance: Dirty air filters can reduce your heating system’s efficiency. Regularly check and replace them to ensure proper airflow and heating performance. This is often an overlooked task but one that is vital in the longevity of your system and the overall health of your home. We recommend homeowners watch YouTube videos or call us if they need assistance with this. It can be fairly easy to do!
- Fuel Tanks: If your heating system relies on oil or propane, ensure the tank is full before the winter season begins to prevent any unexpected interruptions. While these systems are not very common in today’s construction practices, they often do exist in older homes or in cabins in the surrounding mountain areas.
- Outdoor Cooling Units: If your home has an outdoor condensing unit for cooling, clear it of leaves and debris. Covering it will protect against rust and freezing. You can also purchase covers for these units to further protect them.
- Ceiling Fan Hack: To distribute warm air more effectively, reverse your ceiling fan’s direction in the winter. When it spins clockwise, it will push warm air down from the ceiling, helping maintain a consistent temperature throughout your home.
Chimneys and Fireplaces: Safety and Warmth for Your Boise Home
Boise’s winter charm often includes cozy fireplaces and chimneys, but it’s essential to maintain them properly. Every year, homes are destroyed due to fires that start in chimneys or fireplaces. It is essential to protect your family and your property.
- Wildlife Inspection: Inspect your chimney for nesting animals attempting to escape the cold. Squirrels, birds, and raccoons are known culprits, and their presence can block your chimney and create a serious problem.
- Damper Function: Ensure that your chimney damper opens and closes smoothly. A properly functioning damper is essential for both safety and energy efficiency.
- Chimney Cleaning: If it’s been several years since your chimney was last cleaned, consider hiring a professional chimney cleaning service. A clean chimney not only functions better but also reduces the risk of chimney fires. Please let us know if you would like a contact for preferred vendor on our list.
- Glass Doors: Installing glass doors on your fireplace or wood stove provides an extra layer of insulation and safety. When your fireplace is not in use, keep the damper closed to prevent warm air from escaping. The glass will also warm and heat the area.
Boise Roof & Landscape Maintenance
Maintaining your roof and landscaping can help prevent costly damage during the winter. While everyone enjoys having a beautifully landscaped yard, it comes at a cost. Cleaning and properly maintaining your property is essential to set your Boise home up for success during the winter months.
- Gutter Clean-Up: Boise’s winters can bring heavy snow and rain, leading to the risk of ice dams forming in your gutters. These ice dams can block water drainage and potentially damage your gutters. To prevent this, remove leaves, pine needles, and other debris from your gutters. This can be done by hand, hose, leaf blower, or a professional.
- Missing Shingles: Inspect your roof for missing or damaged shingles and replace them promptly to prevent leaks. While you are checking on these items, remember to look for other issues as well. We find roofing issues all the time during our professionally certified home inspections in Boise. Remember, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure!
- Outdoor Furniture: Protect your outdoor patio furniture by covering it during the winter months. This will extend its lifespan and keep it looking great for years to come. Also, it keeps unwanted pests from using your costly furniture to build nests!
- Deck Maintenance: If your home features a deck, consider applying an extra coat of sealer before winter arrives to protect it from the elements. This will prolong the life of your wooden deck and save you lots of money in the long run.
Unoccupied Homes: Special Care for Vacant Properties
Some Boise homeowners may have second properties or leave their homes vacant for extended periods during the winter. This can be common for lots of investors in the Boise market. We perform home inspections all the time for investors who are turning properties into Airbnbs. These properties require special care to prevent catastrophic damage during winters in Boise, especially when they are vacant for specific periods of time. All of the other winterization tips we discussed should also be applied.
- Winterize Plumbing: Empty toilets and pour antifreeze into plumbing fixtures. Drain all water from both indoor and outdoor plumbing to prevent freezing.
- Electrical Appliances: Unplug non-essential electrical appliances, particularly the refrigerator, before leaving your home. If the property will be entirely unoccupied, consider shutting off the electricity at the main breaker to conserve energy.
The Bottom Line on Boise Home Winterization
At Treasure Valley Home Inspectors, we understand the unique challenges winter can bring to homeowners in the Boise area. Our local expertise and commitment to quality home inspections make us the ideal partner for ensuring that your home is ready for the winter ahead. Whether you’re concerned about the efficiency of your heating system, the integrity of your insulation, or the safety of your fireplace, our experienced team is here to help.
Don’t wait until the snow starts falling to address potential issues in your home. Take action now and schedule a home inspection with Treasure Valley Home Inspectors. Our comprehensive inspections will provide you with the insights you need to make informed decisions about your home’s winterization. Contact us today, and let us help you enjoy a warm, cozy, and worry-free winter season in your Boise, Idaho home. Your comfort and peace of mind are our top priorities, and we look forward to serving you.