Winter is coming. Is your home ready? Before the cold weather makes its presence known, here are 10 tasks you should check off your list to make sure your home is in good shape to withstand the elements and keep you safe and warm. Here are ten ways you should prepare your home for winter.

  1. Make sure your heating system is in good working order – a good chore to perform annually. Turn it on to make sure it blows hot air and the thermostat works. Change your furnace filters. For a final inspection and cleaning, it’s best to contact a professional. You can find one through the Air Conditioning Contractors of America (ACCA).
  2. Clean your fireplace, and have someone inspect the chimney and vents, cleaning them if necessary to prevent chimney fires and keep carbon monoxide out of your home. You can find a certified chimney inspector on the Chimney Safety Institute of America’s web site. Keep the flue closed when you’re not using the fireplace, but make sure to open it when you strike a match.
  3. This is a good time to check your smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors. Replace their batteries, and test them. If you don’t have a carbon monoxide detector in your home, make that small but important investment.
  4. Check for window and door leaks, looking for gaps and peeling, cracked, or missing caulk. Add caulk where necessary, using a silicone caulk for outdoor repairs. Add weather-stripping around doors to keep heat from escaping.
  5. Check your home’s insulation. Inspect the attic to make sure insulation is in place and undamaged. Hold your hands by electrical outlets and light switches to feel for drafts. You can purchase inexpensive insulators that any homeowner can install with only a screwdriver.
  6. Clean your gutters, removing debris that may back up water or cause ice dams, damaging your roof or other structural elements. Do a quick inspection for gutters needing repair, and get them done before it gets too cold. Run water through the system to make sure all is clear.
  7. Inspect your yard for tree branches that could break and damage your home if weighed down by ice or snow. Cut them back or hire a professional to remove them.
  8. Drain and disconnect outdoor hoses and drain pipes, including your sprinkler system, to prevent breaks. Place insulated covers over the faucets to protect them from freeze damage.
  9. During cold spells, keep cabinet doors open to let warm air circulate around your pipes, particularly in the kitchen and bathrooms. Turn on faucets to a slow trickle to keep water running and prevent pipe bursts.
  10. If your ceiling fans have a reverse switch, use it to reverse their rotation. This causes an updraft and related downdraft that pushes heat back into the room, saving you energy and money.

We hope you have a safe, happy winter in a well-prepared home!