house covered in snow

As the cold winds of winter approach, is your home ready for the change in weather? If you live in a climate that is warm year-round, you probably don’t need to worry about winter preparations, but those of us facing a cold winter need to prepare our homes, inside and out, for the season.  A little time spent on your home before the weather turns cold will help cut heating costs and protect your home from damaging winter storms.

Bob Vila’s website, focusing on home restoration and repair, offers some suggestions for preparing your home and yard for the winter:

Windows and Doors

Ensure your windows and doors are storm-ready and will keep in the heat during the winter.  Check the weather-stripping and caulk around your windows and doors. Inspect wooden window frames, checking for rot or decay, and check the panes of your windows for cracks or gaps. If you find any problems in these areas, replace or repair them to make sure they are sealed tight against the cold air.

Lawn, Garden, and Deck

Modestly trim any trees near your house or that may be in danger of connecting with power lines. This prevents frozen or wind-blown branches from causing damage or snapping off your electricity. Fertilize your lawn. Store flower pots, planters and hoses inside for the winter. Turn off exterior faucets and drain your sprinkler system. Inspect your outdoor lighting and replace any missing bulbs, so sidewalks and doorways will be well-lit throughout the winter.

Tools and Machinery

Put away all of your summer yard work tools and equipment. Clean and store your lawnmower. Put your snow blower and snow shovels in a handy place for easy access. Check and refill the oil on your snow blower. Keep ice melt or sand near your exterior doors, so you can easily scatter it on icy sidewalks and steps.

Heating, Ventilating, and Air Conditioning

Inspect your fireplace and chimney for any problems or hazards. Make sure the damper works to keep out drafts. If you have ceiling fans, switch them to reverse or clockwise position to push hot air down from the ceiling. Don’t forget to clean or replace the air filter in your furnace—and do this regularly throughout the winter. A clean air filter will improve your furnace’s efficiency and the quality of the air inside your home throughout the winter. This is also a good time of year to test your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors, replacing batteries if necessary, and make sure you have working fire extinguishers in a few places around your home.

Gutters, Roof, and Drains

Check your roof for shingles that are missing, damaged or warped and replace them before water leaks through. Ice and snow can be hard on your gutters and downspouts, possibly breaking them loose from the roof. Make sure they are securely fastened. Clean out your gutters and make sure water drains off the roof and away from your home’s foundation.

If you are unable to do some of these inspections or repairs on your own, have a friend, family member or trusted handyman assist you. These winter preparations won’t take long and will give you peace-of-mind during the long, cold season. With a thorough inspection and a few repairs when necessary, you can prevent damage to your home and ensure that it will keep you warm and dry during the coming winter.