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Your Ultimate Winter Home Maintenance Checklist

November 14 2018
by Leisl Bailey

A home covered in snow in winter. A winter home maintenance checklist can keep your home looking good all year.

You may be dreaming of a white Christmas, but is your house ready for one? Winter storms can wreak havoc on your house by expanding and bursting your pipes, creating leaks in your roof, and pushing rodents indoors. Prevent all this from happening with your home maintenance checklist for winter.

Before diving into this list, remember that not all of this can be accomplished in one Saturday, so you’ll need to plan ahead. The best time to winterize your home is in the early fall. To make it a bit easier, we’ve divided this list into sections of things to do indoors and outdoors.

Interior Winter Home Maintenance Checklist

Remove A/C units from windows.

Nothing’s worse than a cold draft in the depth of winter. Prevent air leaks and save on your heating bill by remembering to take your air conditioner unit out of the window. Put the unit in a safe spot like a shed, the garage, or other dry, safe place for storage.

Winterize windows and doors.

Check your weather strips on your windows and doors and replace them if necessary. Also, pay attention to the calking surrounding your windows and remove and replace it if it is damaged or molding.

Prepare for power outages.

Ever go to the grocery store before those big winter storms and find that the shelves are bare? That’s because many people wait until an emergency strikes to stock up on supplies.

Don’t be like them.

Prepare for power outages now by stockpiling drinking water, nonperishable food, first aid kits, and flashlights. If you’re in an area that sees power outages often, you may want to invest in a power generator.

Hire a chimney sweep.

Have a chimney? Put hiring a chimney sweep on your to-do list before lighting a fire this winter. Home fires can be prevented very easily by having a professional remove debris like birds nests and other chimney blocks that push the fire outward instead of up where the smoke can vent.

Maintain your HVAC system.

Have your local HVAC company come out and look at your heating system before you plan on using it extensively. They’ll be able to do a full evaluation and make sure everything is in top shape. The last thing you want is to get into the dead of winter and have your heat not turn on—brrr!

Protect your floors.

Your floors need protecting in winter, too! Save your floors from puddles and water damage by putting rugs on both sides of the exterior doors. You may even want to keep a boot scraper outside of the door to scrape off the large mounds of snow. If you keep the shoes indoors, purchase a boot tray to put the shoes on so when the snow and ice melt, it doesn’t do so all over your floors.

Check the smoke alarms.

December, January, February and March are peak months for home fire deaths, according to the California State Firefighters’ Association. There are definitely some things you can do to prevent fires, such as not leaving candles or cooking meals unattended, and giving proper ventilation and space to your space heaters. But definitely make sure your smoke alarms are in check just in case something does happen.

Check carbon monoxide alarms.

While you’re checking the batteries in your smoke alarms, don’t forget your carbon monoxide alarms! With the windows and doors locked tight, it’s easy to have a small leak turn into a big problem. Make sure to replace the batteries and test them to make sure they are in lifesaving order.

Insulate exterior light switches and receptacles.

Keep drafts at bay by insulating the exterior light switches and receptacles. You can find the insulation at your local hardware store, and you’d be surprised at how much it bocks out.

Switch the ceiling fan.

There should be a switch on the top of your fan to reverse the blades. Reversing the ceiling fan helps to push warm air down! This is especially useful for vaulted ceilings.

Don’t forget your storm doors!

If your storm door has screens on them, it’s time to switch them out to glass! Don’t have a switchable door? Consider buying one! It will cut back on the amount of cold air that sneaks into your house this winter.

Winterize door locks.

Nothing is worse than freezing your buns off outside while trying to stick your key in a stuck lock. Winterize your locks by spraying a little graphite into them for easy turning later.

Exterior Home Maintenance Checklist for Winter

Cover your A/C unit.

Your outdoor unit for your air conditioner is usually safe during the warm months, but once the landscaping starts freezing over, it’s time to protect it. While there are covers you can get, experts warn that can attract rodents who are wanting to survive the cold.

Protect your unit from falling ice and brittle branches by placing a piece of plywood over the top with a few bricks to anchor it down. It may not look pretty, but it will prevent your unit from needing any major repairs come spring.

Pro tip: Be sure to take off the board before running your A/C in the warmer months. If left on, the board could result in a burnt out compressor from lack of airflow.

Prune your trees.

Protect your house and yard this winter by taking care of your trees during the summer and fall. Prune the dead limbs off your trees so, come winter, they won’t break under the snow load. Breaking tree limbs cause power outages and could fall on your house or car, so it is in your best interest to prepare now.

Winterize your yard tools.

Don’t leave your yard tools to rust away this winter. Take care to hang them up in a dry location and spray a light layer of vegetable oil on them to prevent rust. Come spring, your tools will be handy and ready to start planting again.

Protect your pots!

Your clay and ceramic pots don’t like the winter weather either. Prevent cracking pots by emptying the soil and storing them in a warm, dry location.

Prevent ice dams.

Icicles in winter may be pretty, but they’re a sign of something a bit more sinister on your roof: ice dams. Ice dams occur when the snow on your roof heats up to above freezing temperatures causing the water to pool up and create large blocks of ice around your roof line.

Prevent ice dams by keeping your attic as cool as possible. To do this, be sure to insulate your attic well. If your house is prone to ice dams, you may want to add more insulation in the attic. The insulation will keep the warm air in your house rather than venting to the roof line.

Prepare for holiday lights.

Lights make the holiday season magical, but there are things you can do to prepare your house for them. Make sure they are ready for hanging by examining them for any exposed or damaged wires. You’ll also want to only use outdoor-safe lights when hanging the lights on your house and landscaping.

Pay attention to where you plug in your lights as well. Never run an extension cord from the inside outlets to the exterior light display, as that could cause electrocution and the outlets to short out.

Purchase a roof rake.

Have a roof rake on hand to get mounds of snow and ice off your roof. This will prevent water from seeping between the shingles and ice dams from forming. While you can definitely look for this rake after the first snowfall, if your local outdoor store has them now, purchasing one before winter hits is not a bad idea.

Patch holes and cracks in exterior walls and foundation.

Make time to inspect the exterior of your house for cracks or holes in the walls or foundation. If you find any, pick up a kit or hire a professional to patch them before the weather gets too chilly. Not only will this help you save on your energy bill this winter;o it will also save you from uninvited guests trying to keep out of the cold.

Remove snow and ice.

Melting snow turns into ice very quickly, which can be dangerous for those coming to visit you this holiday season. Prep your driveway and walks with ice melt and sand to help melt the snow and add some traction to the surfaces. Keep it handy now so when the snow starts, you won’t be wishing you had some.

Prevent frozen pipes.

Insulate your exposed pipes outside your house to prevent them from freezing. This happens when the water freezes and expands, making your pipes burst. You’ll also want to keep the temperature in your house at 55 degrees or above to keep the pipes from freezing indoors. You can also keep the cabinet door under your sink open to prevent your kitchen sink from freezing!

Clear gutters.

The leaves of autumn bring many bright colors but they can also clog your gutters. Before winter, make sure to hop up on a latter and clear out any leaves or debris that may be blocking the water from draining properly.

Check your roof.

While you’re up on that ladder take a look at your roof. Make sure no shingles are damaged or missing. Missing and damaged shingles can let water trickle through, which causes water damage in your attic, ceiling, and walls. It’ll only take a few minutes, but it will pay off immensely by the time the cold weather hits.

Don’t forget outdoor lighting.

The winter months are often dark, so make sure your outdoor lights are shining bright by replacing the bulbs and fixing any exposed wiring.

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