Protect Your Home with Our Complete Winter Prep Guide
It’s still Autumn according to the calendar, but it seems no one’s told Old Man Winter.
Even though we’ve already seen more than our share of severe weather, there are still things you can – and should – do to prepare your home and make sure it’s ready for the long haul and the harsh, winter elements.
Here’s a comprehensive list of home maintenance tasks that will help protect your real estate and make weathering the cold, winter months easier.
Windows and Doors
- Inspect all exterior doors and windows for damage or maintenance needs.
- Install your storm doors and storm windows. This stops heat from escaping and helps reduce heating costs.
- Check the weather stripping around door and window frames to make sure it’s in good condition and can help prevent heat loss. Replace if necessary.
- Paint, seal and caulk outside window or door frames anywhere you feel a draft. This will help keep the warm air in and the cold air out. You can also caulk or seal indoors to help close drafts.
- Make sure there are no cracked or broken windows, or gaps that need repaired. If there are, get those repaired.
HVAC Equipment and Other Heat Sources
- Make sure your HVAC equipment like furnaces, boilers, humidifiers, and other heat sources are in good condition.
- Clean your whole house humidifier and replace the evaporator pad.
- Change your furnace filter to make sure your indoor air is good quality. This should be done quarterly.
- Have your home HVAC service provider complete a furnace cleaning and maintenance service. Consider asking about annual maintenance contracts. This will keep your unit in peak condition and ensure it’s energy-efficient.
- Inspect your fireplace and flue for soot and creosote, and make sure there are no cracks or voids. It may be easiest to call a good chimney sweep company to handle this for you.
- Make sure the damper is in good condition and not rusted or warped. Drafts might indicate that this needs attention.
- This is also a good time to order your firewood. Cut and stack it in a safe place away from the house, and cover it with a tarp.
Roofs and Gutters
- Inspect your roof for warped or missing shingles, as these can lead to leaks. Replace any missing shingles and have leaks repaired.
- Check the flashing around your chimney, and gaps around skylights or vent pipes for deterioration, as leaks commonly occur at these points.
- Make sure your gutters and downspouts are properly fastened, and not loose or sagging. Ice dams and heavy snow can pull these right off the house if they are not secure.
- Clean gutters of debris, and make sure your downspouts point at least five feet away from the foundation to prevent flooding from snowmelt. Add downspout extenders where necessary.
- Keep leaves and debris out of storm drains to prevent blockages.
- Cover all your outdoor vents and outside openings to prevent access by birds, insects, or rodents seeking a warm place to shelter.
Lawn and Garden
- Trim back branches from the house and from electrical wires to prevent ice or wind damage.
- Clean and dry your patio furniture, and either cover with a tarp or store in a garage, shed, or another indoor area.
- Shut off exterior faucets. Drain outdoor pipes, valves, and sprinkler heads to protect against frozen and burst pipes.
- Remove attached hoses and store them in a garage or shed. Wrap your outside faucets with covers.
- Clean leaves, dirt, and other debris from between deck boards to prevent mold and mildew. Repair any decayed areas to guard against further deterioration.
Tools and Machinery
- Bring in any outdoor tools and spray with a lightweight oil to prevent rust.
- Clean leaves, grass, and mud off your mower, remove most of the gas, and add a fuel stabilizer for storage to keep the gas from going bad.
- Swap your lawnmower and other summer tools to the back of the garage and bring your snowblower to the front.
- Change the oil in your snowblower, replace the spark plug, and make sure it starts
- Purchase ice melt, salt, or sand for walkways, steps, and other areas that will ice over. If you have pets, protect their paws by getting pet-friendly ice melt.
- Switch your ceiling fans to run in a counterclockwise direction. This helps disperse warm air that gathers near the ceiling.
- Make sure to change the batteries in your smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors. Snow buildup around outside vents can trap carbon monoxide in your home. You want to be ready and keep your family safe.
- Freeze alarms can help keep your property safe if you’re away during the cold winter months. These will alert you or a preselected contact if indoor temps fall below a certain point. This helps prevent frozen or burst water pipes and the flooding that can result.
- Check exposed ducts in your basement, attic, or crawl space for cracks or breaks that need to be repaired or sealed.
- Install foam sheets behind outlets and switch plates on exterior walls to reduce airflow from outside.
Completing this list of home winter prep tasks will help keep you, your home, and family safe and warm this winter.