Annual Home Winterization Checklist

Brian Hogan
Oct 9, 2020 9:26:29 AM

It may be hard to believe, but winter is just a few short weeks away. If the upcoming months of snow, ice, piercing wind, and bitter arctic temperatures have you dreaming of cozy evenings by the fire, you’re not alone — and you also have some work to do.

Exterior of a 2-story home in late fall with front porch, second story bay window and cupola.

Prepare Your House for Snow, Ice, and Sub-Zero Temperatures with this Simple Guide

As a homeowner, you know that consistent maintenance is the only  way to keep your house as sound, functional, and efficient as possible through every damp spring, scorching hot summer, blustery fall, and cold, harsh winter.

October is an ideal time to winterize your home before the first major cold snap hits. Besides keeping you warm and cozy all winter long, fortifying your house against the elements reduces your energy use, increases the lifespan of your home’s systems and components, and makes your property safer. 

Not sure where to start? Our annual home winterization checklist has you covered:

Doors and Windows

Check all windows and exterior doors for cracks or gaps that would allow cold air in (and warm air out). Install or replace weatherstripping as needed, and use caulk to any irregular gaps.   

If you have older windows, swap out warm-weather screens for cold-weather storm windows. Likewise, replace any stand-alone screen doors with storm doors for the season.   

Kitchen window with autumn river views.Gutter Systems

Clean and repair all of your home’s gutters and downspouts, replacing damaged sections when necessary, by early November. Ensure all gutters are properly fastened so they’re less likely to succumb to the weight of snow and ice and make sure all downspouts extend at least five feet away from your house.   

Exterior Plumbing

Before the first hard freeze, shut off exterior faucets and drain water from outdoor spigots, valves, and in-ground sprinkler systems to guard against bursting pipes.  

Wrap, cover, or insulate exterior pipes and spigots for extra protection, and disconnect and store garden hoses to preserve flexibility and prevent cracks.

Roof and Chimney

In the winter, when snow may cover your roof for weeks at a time, a minor leak can turn into a major catastrophe. To prevent roofing problems through the cold winter season, inspect your roof in the fall — and replace any missing, damaged, or warped shingles as soon as possible.  

It’s also important to replace damaged or missing roof flashing around the chimney, along the eves, and around skylights and vent pipes. Use roofing cement and a caulking gun to seal any gaps or joints.  

Unless you already did so in the spring, have your chimney professionally cleaned before you start using your fireplace. Keep the damper closed to prevent unnecessary heat loss when the fireplace is not in use.

Furnace and Water Heater

Before you test your furnace, clean or replace its air filter for optimal efficiency and improved indoor air quality. If your furnace hasn’t been inspected by an expert in recent years, schedule a furnace tune-up to ensure it’s clean and running as well as it should. 

Check your water heater for leaks and then flush it completely to get rid of sediment. Adding a water heater blanket provides extra insulation, reduces heat loss, and boosts efficiency. 

Air Ducts and Vents

Examine exposed air ducts in the attic, basement, or crawl space for holes, gaps, or cracks, and use a sealant to plug any leaks. If your air ducts and vents haven’t been professionally cleaned within the last year or two, schedule a cleaning before the winter. 

Clean air ducts help preserve optimal indoor air quality, especially in the winter when there’s less fresh air flowing through your home than normal. 

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