Preparing your home thoroughly before winter arrives keeps your household comfortable, safe, and energy efficient through the coldest months. By tackling key maintenance tasks and checking essential systems in fall, you can prevent many cold weather headaches.

Prepare Your Home’s Exterior

Start winter prep by assessing and sealing up the exterior:

  • Inspect and Repair Roofing – Check for damaged or missing shingles that could lead to leaks. Repair any issues promptly before winter storms hit.
  • Clean Gutters and Downspouts – Remove leaves and debris so melting snow can drain freely. Confirm downspouts direct water away from the foundation.
  • Seal Cracks and Holes – Inspect siding, trim, and masonry for any gaps or cracks that allow cold air infiltration. Seal with caulk or weatherstripping.
  • Insulate Exterior Pipes – Wrap exposed water pipes with insulating sleeves or foam covers so they don’t freeze.
  • Weatherstrip Doors and Windows – Replace worn weatherstripping around doors and windows to reduce drafts. Make sure strips form a tight seal.
  • Caulk around Windows, Trim, and Siding – Fill gaps and cracks thoroughly with exterior caulk to prevent air leakage and moisture intrusion.
  • Drain and Shut Off Exterior Faucets – Turn off and drain any hose bibs and irrigation systems so pipes don’t burst from freezing.
  • Service Snow Blower and Gather Supplies – Tune up your snow blower and have shovels, salt, and scrapers ready for winter storms.
  • Prune Trees and Shrubs – Trim back overgrown branches. Pruning in fall allows time for regrowth before spring.
  • Get Your HVAC System Ready – Be sure your heating system is in top shape before using it heavily:
  • Schedule a Tune-Up for your HVAC System – Have a professional inspect and service your HVAC system prior to turn on. Replace filters, check refrigerant levels, inspect ducts, and confirm proper airflow.
  • Change Filters – If your unit wasn’t serviced, change furnace and AC filters yourself per manufacturer guidelines. Usually every 3 months.
  • Inspect Ductwork for Leaks – Ensure joints are well-sealed so conditioned air doesn’t escape. Repair any disconnected or damaged ducts.
  • Check that Heat Sources are Unobstructed – Move furniture or rugs away from radiators, vents, and baseboard heaters so air can circulate freely.
  • Bleed Radiators and Ensure Proper Pressure – Release trapped air from hot water or steam radiators so they heat evenly. Top up water pressure in your boiler system.

Prepare Plumbing

Avoid burst pipes this winter by checking:

  • Insulate Pipes in Unheated Areas – Wrap exposed water pipes in uninsulated spaces like attics, garages, and crawl spaces to prevent freezing.
  • Seal any Leaks – Fix dripping faucets and any other pipe leaks, which can lead to ice dams and cracks in cold weather.
  • Disconnect Outdoor Hoses – Detach garden hoses from exterior spigots and store indoors to avoid freeze damage.
  • Check Your Fireplace – Keep your fireplace safe and functioning with these tasks:
  • Clean your Fireplace and Chimney – Remove ash, soot, and creosote buildup. Hire a chimney sweep for a thorough cleaning if needed.
  • Inspect the Flue and Damper – Confirm the flue is unobstructed. Check that the damper opens and closes properly.
  • Ensure Proper Ventilation – Verify the chimney draws air up and out adequately for safety and efficiency.
  • Run Appliance Maintenance – With appliances working overtime in winter, inspect and service:
  • Replace Furnace and AC Filters – If you didn’t have an HVAC tune-up, change the filters yourself. Use MERV 13 or higher for cleaner winter air.
  • Clean Refrigerator Coils – Dust buildup on coils forces your fridge to work harder. Clean thoroughly so it runs efficiently.
  • Flush Water Heater – Drain and refill your water heater to remove sediment and prolong its lifespan.

Winterize Your Garage

Don’t neglect your garage when prepping for winter:

  • Lubricate Garage Door Parts – Lube rollers, hinges, pulleys and bearings so your door operates smoothly in cold conditions.
  • Test your Garage Door Opener – Confirm the auto-reverse function is working properly in case the door meets ice or snow piles.
  • Check Garage Windows and Seals – Inspect for drafts around windows and doors. Add weatherstripping as needed.
  • Organize Tools, Vehicles, and Storage – Designate areas to efficiently store summer gear. Make room for snow removal tools.

Update Lighting & Electrical

Maximize brightness with these lighting improvements:

  • Install Exterior Lighting – Add outdoor lighting by entrances, walkways, and driveways to dispel winter darkness. Use LEDs.
  • Check Indoor Fixtures and Bulbs – Replace any burned out bulbs. Clean fixtures so more light shines through.
  • Ensure Adequate Lighting at Entries – Improve visibility and safety with bright entryway lights, step lights and door lights with photocells or timers.
  • Switch Fans to Clockwise Rotation – Spin ceiling fans clockwise at low speed to push rising warm air back down into the room.

Prepare Supplies

Stock up on essentials before shops sell out:

  • Stock up on Ice Melt and Shovels – Buy ample ice melt, roof rakes, and ergonomic snow shovels early in the season for the best selection.
  • Check Batteries for Detectors and Remotes – Replace batteries in smoke detectors, carbon monoxide detectors, and remote controls to avoid failures.
  • Gather Warm Clothes and Emergency Supplies – Have hats, gloves, boots, blankets, flashlights, water, and non-perishable food ready for power outages.

Deep Clean Your Home

Finally, give your whole house a thorough cleaning before the holidays and closed-up winter months. Target high dust and dander areas like ducts, carpets, upholstery, and window treatments. A spotless home starts winter fresher and healthier.

Completing seasonal home maintenance before winter provides peace of mind and prevents costly issues down the road. Take the time in fall to seal out the cold, upgrade seals, insulate pipes, service your HVAC, stock supplies, and deep clean your space. With your home ready for whatever weather comes, you can relax and enjoy a cozy winter season.

Published On: October 4th, 2023 / Categories: Home Improvement Contractor, Seasonal /

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