The Ultimate Winter Home Maintenance Checklist
Read these tips to protect your house as colder temps and snow settle in.
The Top Winter Maintenance Tips to Keep the Cold Outside
Winter prep is a must-do for any homeowner, whether you hunker down in negative temperatures for the winter or settle in for the occasional 30-degree days.
We've collected a list of projects to complete as winter approaches, as well as things to do and watch throughout the cold season to keep Jack Frost at bay and your home in its best shape.
Maintenance Tasks to Prep for Winter
Not all winter tasks are completed from December to March. Some items need to be done before the cold weather arrives. Tackle these tasks in the late fall and early days of winter to set yourself up for success in the coming months.
☐ Clean your gutters: Blocked gutters allow melted ice and snow to seep into your roof or collect around the foundation of your home, potentially doing severe damage.
☐ Look for ice dam potential: Look for areas where gutters aren't flowing toward a downspout. Also check areas where upper levels may run off onto lower level roofs and room ventilation may be uneven. Consider adding de-icing cables along these areas to prevent buildup.
☐ Prune trees and shrubs: Cut branches that hang over your roof or walkways. Branches that break due to heavy snow or ice buildup can cause costly damage.
☐ Recaulk around windows and doors: Repair any cracks in the caulking around drafty doors and windows to avoid having the cold breeze seep into your home. This can also reduce your heating bill. This also should be done inside, but getting the task done outside should be the priority before weather gets chilly.
☐ Give your yard a final trim: Cut your grass down to a shorter height of about 2 – 3 inches. This will help avoid thatch build-up and help grass stay healthy during the cold. Keep an eye on the weather, and do this before any frost appears.
Check out our complete yard cleanup guide for extra tips that can help prep grass and landscaping for winter.
☐ Get your furnace inspected: Heating systems work overtime during cold months, which means they require a little more TLC for proper winter maintenance. Never go more than two years without an inspection.
☐ Seal cracks in hardscaping: This prevents water from settling into cracks or porous areas and causing more damage as it freezes. Sealing also helps protect against damage from shoveling or using salt to melt snow.
☐ Stock up on supplies: Don't wait for the first freeze or snow to stock up on items like sidewalk salt, gas and portable heaters. Take inventory while it's still warm and get your supplies.
☐ Test and gather your winter snow equipment: Make sure your snow thrower works, you know where your shovel is and any de-icing cables are properly working.
Winter Home Maintenance Tasks
Your work is not complete once the thermometer starts creeping down and the snow begins to fly. Complete these tasks as needed to make sure the elements don't hurt your home.
☐ Sweep your chimney: If you have a wood-burning fireplace or stove, you’ll need to clear out any buildups of creosote. You can DIY a chimney sweep with the proper tools or hire a professional instead. It’s important to clean out any leftover residue, as it has the potential to cause a house fire.
☐ Find and repair drafts: If you didn't do this when you fixed external drafts, now's the time to handle the inside. Feel around doors and windows for areas where cold air is clearly flowing into your home.
☐ Mark your driveway: Place flexible plastic poles along your driveway. Once the snow falls, they will help you pull in and out of your driveway, as well as let you know where the yard starts when your shoveling.
☐ Reverse the ceiling fans: When fans run clockwise, they will push air upwards and force warmer air down.
☐ Test your sump pump: Pour a couple gallons of water into your sump pump to ensure it is functioning properly and ready to handle melting snow.
☐ Remove icicles: Small icicles are fine. When they start to get large, they tend to get heavy. Enough weight could pull your gutters away from your home. Knock these down with a shovel, broom or rake so that they don't fall on top of you.
Knock icicles on upper floors down by carefully reaching through a window. If you don't feel comfortable performing this task, consider hiring a professional. For larger, heavier icicles, always hire a professional to avoid injury or damage to your gutters.
☐ Get a roof rake: Heavy, wet snow can add up quickly on your roof. If you're concerned, purchase a roof rake and get the snow down.
☐ Keep home entryways clear: Take care to keep snow, ice and slush away from entryways to keep from tracking a mess into your mudroom or home.
☐ Examine your home's exterior: Note any areas where it appears snow is melting faster on the ground near your home. It could indicate a spot where heat is escaping and may need repair.
☐ Replace your air filters: Furnace air filters should be changed every three months. If you change them as winter starts, you should also change them as spring begins.
☐ Test your smoke and carbon monoxide alarms: These should be periodically checked to make sure they're still working. If you're staying in due to cold weather, it's as good a time as any to give them a test.
☐ Keep an eye on your basement: Snow has to melt. A general conversion is every 10 inches of snow equals one inch of rainfall. So when the temperatures rise, watch for leaks in your basement walls and floor.
Bring on the Cold Weather
You've completed the checklist and your home is secure. Now it's time for your reward. Sit back, relax with a good book or movie, sip on a mug of hot cocoa and enjoy the winter season.
What Do You Think?
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