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Getting the Curbly House Ready for Winter

by on Nov 20, 2014

Was it really just weeks ago we were basking in the front yard, watching the kids scuttling beneath the sprinkler? Oh, faded ghosts of summer! But seriously, for most of us, those days are long gone, and now it’s time to hunker down in a warm house with fuzzy socks, steaming soups, and a borderline-dangerous supply of piping hot coffee.

At our house we have a seasonal routine we follow to get ourselves prepped for the long winter, and although it sometimes gets postponed (i.e. I put it off as long as humanly possible), it does eventually happen, so I thought I’d share it here, working from the inside of the house out.

We partnered with Great Stuff for this post.
The tips I’m sharing here are mine alone, though.

Four multi colored gap filler cans with yellow tops.


  • Replace furnace filter
  • If you have a limestone foundation like we do, look for holes or cracks in the mortar where rodents might be getting in. You can seal these up with Great Stuff Pestblock, which includes a bitter-tasting additive that keeps animals from wanting to chew through it.
  • Seal your rim joist (the spot where the wood meets the foundation) with Great Stuff Big Gaps & Cracks to improve insulation
  • Look for any exterior penetrations (gas lines, HVAC vents, laundry vents, and plumbing penetrations) and seal them with Great Stuff Gaps & Cracks. For penetrations between floors (like where a heating duct goes up from the basement), use Great Stuff Fireblock.
  • Turn off exterior water faucets (most will have shutoff valves inside the basement).

A person uses a spray foam to spray in cracks around a pipe near some wood.
A beautiful photo, I know. Here I’m sealing up a ventilation duct where it comes up from the basement through the floor. 

Living Space

  • Swap out window screens for storm windows
  • Wash your windows! You’ll be surprised how much gunk accrues on them over the summer.
  • Switch the rotation direction of any ceiling fans (you want them pushing warm air down, or counter clockwise, for the the winter).
  • Check your programmable thermostat (you have one of those, right?) and make sure the settings are correct. If you don’t have one, they normally pretty easy to install.
  • Use Great Stuff Fireblock to air seal any electrical outlets on exterior walls (they’re often a bad source of air leaks). Here’s a great guide on how to do it.
  • For a really useful air-sealing checklist, check out this PDF.

An electrical outlet on a white wall are uncovered.A person holding a painting spray
A person uses spray sealer to seal cracks around a pipe.


  • Seal your attic hatch frame with Great Stuff Gaps & Cracks
  • Go up in the attic and look for any penetrations coming from the living space (electrical wires, HVAC/plumbing vents, gas lines) and seal them with Great Stuff Fireblock.
  • Inspect attic air vents and make sure they’re clear (unless you have a finished/heated attic, you want to make there’s good air flow up there). The attic temperature in winter should be pretty close to the exterior temperature. An attic that is too warm will cause ice dams.


  • Clean up summer yard tools (rakes, shovels, etc.) and store them indoors.
  • Cut down your dead plants and veggie garden! Take ’em to the local city or county compost site.
  • Check your winter tools (shovels, mainly) and get them out where you have easy access to them. If you have one, check your snow blower’s gas and oil levels and run it to make sure it’s working properly.
  • Empty your hoses and take them in.
  • Seal exterior foundation cracks and holes with Great Stuff Gaps & Cracks or Great Stuff Big Gap Filler. Also check dryer vent penetrations, and water faucets/hose bibs (they might need to be sealed as well).
  • If you have pest problems (like we have had), use Great Stuff Pestblock to close up their entrance holes.
  • Clean your gutters!
  • Looks for damage to your trimwork, fascia, and soffits, especiall holes where squirrels or birds may be getting in. I had whole family of sparrows taking shelter inside one of our eaves, which, sadly, I had to evict. For birds, chicken wire and/or Great Stuff Big Gap filler works well to close off the entry. Them replace and paint the damaged woodwork. Squirrels will chew right through chicken wire, so you may need something a little stronger (Great Stuff Pestblock, or even metal flashing).

Craggy rocks stacked on top of each other with a hole in a fissure.

A can of sealer spraying a brick wall.

A metal spigot sits on the side of a stone building.

I know that seems like a lot to do, but you don’t need to do it all at once. Just make sure you’re aware of these tasks each year, because if you start letting them go, in the course of a few years you’ll have way more work to do!

Have any other winter house-prep routines that I missed here? Please share them in the comments!

This post was sponsored by Great Stuff. All opinions are mine alone.