Winter Home Maintenance Checklist For Before the Cold Weather Arrives

You can shield your house from the severe and erratic winter weather by following a well-executed winter home maintenance checklist. Finishing this list before the cold weather sets in will give you plenty of time to prepare and get ready before the situation becomes urgent.

winter home maintenance

This checklist covers every aspect that makes your house susceptible to cold weather, from checking the weather-stripping on your windows and doors to examining your heating system. 

15 Winter Home Maintenance Checklist

A thorough winter home maintenance checklist encompasses a range of house tasks that ensure that the outer layers of your home are secure from water and cold. 

1. A Roof Inspection

Inspecting a roof, or hiring a professional to do it for you, is crucial for winter maintenance. Maintaining your roof properly keeps your interior warm and helps avoid leaks and ice dams. If the roof is easily accessible, you can do an inspection yourself or hire a professional. A thorough roof inspection should look for things like missing or broken shingles, damaged flashing around vents and chimneys, clogged gutters, water spots that point to leaks, limb penetrations through the roof, poor caulking around roof fixtures and seams, and damaged fascia and soffits.

2. Clean Gutters and Downspouts

Cleaning gutters and downspouts at the end of fall and the beginning of winter helps to ensure that water flows freely through the system and away from your home. This could be a long task, so allow enough time. Collect the following: garden hose, bristle brush, pipe cleaners for clogged gutters, gloves, tarp and bag for debris, gutter scoop, safety line, and harness.

The ladder should be positioned furthest away from the downspout. Ensure that the tarp is placed so that it will catch any falling debris. Clear the gutters with a gutter scoop, then fill the bucket with the debris. Use the hose and bristle brush to clean the gutters. Check for any blockages. Be sure to note the condition of the gutters and their attachment to the fascia boards.

3. Weatherproof Windows and Doors

Cracks around windows and doors are one of the main ways that moisture and cold air enter the home during the winter. Inspect the caulking around the window and door frame. Apply another layer of caulk if you notice cracks or gaps in the original caulk. Also, look at the weather stripping on the sides of the window and door frame to be sure that it is still adhering to the outer frame and that the window or door closes tightly. Replace the weather stripping as necessary.

4. Inspect and Clean the Chimney

Chimney grout deteriorates with time, letting chilly air seep into your house. Over time, debris from burning logs can clog chimneys as well. You can avoid chimney fires and the buildup of carbon monoxide inside your home by cleaning the chimney before starting a fire in it. Hire a chimney professional to inspect the integrity of the bricks and grout and to see if it needs to be cleaned.

5. Service Your Heating System

Call a heating systems professional to conduct a thorough maintenance check and servicing of your heating system. Your heating system needs to be thoroughly inspected once a year, ideally before you start using it, to guarantee safe and effective operation.

This usually entails: a carbon monoxide leak check; thermostat calibration; burner, blowers, and heat exchanger cleaning and lubrication; combustion chamber inspection; air filter replacement; pipe, ductwork, and heat exchanger inspection; as well as an efficiency check.

6. Insulate Exposed Pipes

Exposed pipes are vulnerable to freezing and cracking during the winter. Examine your pipes, paying particular attention to those exposed beneath the house, and seal any that do not have enough insulation. Purchase foam sleeves to insulate exposed pipes. Calculate the pipe’s diameter to determine the appropriate sleeve size. To guarantee the fullest coverage, place heat or duct tape over the sleeve’s openings.

In addition, check your floors, walls, and ceiling for any openings that could allow cold air to enter pipes. When the temperature falls below freezing in the winter, make sure to open cabinets to let warm air flow around pipes and leave the water dripping to prevent freezing.

7. Drain Outdoor Faucets and Hoses

Water left standing in outdoor faucets, irrigation systems, and hoses will freeze and may cause them to burst, though this is not true for freeze-proof water fixtures. If your outdoor faucets and hoses are susceptible to freezing, turn off the water supply to the outdoors. Remove any outdoor water attachments and allow the water to drain from the faucets and hoses. Store the hose in a dry location for the duration of the winter.

8. Test Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Alarms

Check the manufacturer’s instructions for your alarms before you start to get instructions on how to test them. If you don’t have this paperwork, follow these simple steps: Look for a test button. You can either test the alarm by manually pressing the button or by using a smoke detector test spray. As the alarm goes off, make sure the sound is loud and clear.

Battery-powered alarms should have their batteries replaced once a year. If your alarms are hardwired, make sure the backup battery is in good working order. When you are finished testing, reset the alarms and mark the date so you know when to check them again next year.

9. Clean and Reverse Ceiling Fans

Reversing the direction of your ceiling fans will improve the circulation of warm air throughout your home. In winter, your fans should rotate in a clockwise direction.

Turn off the fan and wipe the blades down to remove any dust that has accumulated. Locate the small reverse switch near the fan motor that controls the direction of the blades. Some fans have a pull switch that allows you to reverse the direction. Flip the switch or pull the chain, and then adjust the speed of the blades to what is comfortable.

10. Trim Tree Branches

Pruning your trees before winter reduces the number of branches that can fall and damage your home. Assess the condition of your trees, noting any that are overgrown or have dead limbs. Gather your pruning shears, loppers, handsaws, and pole pruners. Prune away dead or dying branches by cutting just outside the branch collar where the branch grows into the tree. Remove any crossed or rubbing branches from overgrown treetops. To avoid stressing the tree, never cut more than one-third of its canopy. Hire a tree professional if the trees are too tall or large for you to cut yourself.

11. Prepare an Emergency Kit

Gathering emergency supplies ensures that you have vital resources in the event of an emergency such as a natural disaster, a power outage, or an evacuation. Choose a sturdy, waterproof container that is portable, such as a backpack, plastic bin, or duffel bag. It should be stocked with three days’ worth of water and perishable food.

Plan on at least one gallon of water per day per person. Choose food items that are easy to store, such as canned goods, energy bars, and dried fruit and nuts. Pack all-weather clothing, such as sturdy shoes and rain gear, as well as warm bedding, such as blankets or thermal energy blankets.

Include a basic first-aid kit, personal hygiene items, tools such as a Swiss army knife, flashlight, extra batteries, and pliers, a store-powered radio, some cash, and any specialty items you or your family members require.

Other useful items include copies of important documents in water-resistant sleeves, as well as items for entertainment such as card games and small puzzles.

12. Check Insulation

Begin by visually inspecting the insulation in your attic and basement or crawl space. Examine the insulation materials for any cracks or gaps caused by pests or long-term deterioration.

Measure the depth of the insulation and compare this to the recommendations of the Department of Energy in your area. Inspect the insulation for signs of moisture or mold. Once you have identified any problems and your particular type of insulation, address the problems by adding more insulation or replacing damaged insulation material.

13. Protect Outdoor Furniture

You can still use your outdoor furniture in the winter, but you must take precautions to protect it from the elements. Begin by removing the dust and debris that has accumulated over the fall and winter by wiping with soap and warm water. Oil and seal wood furniture to maintain its natural moisture resistance. Inspect metal furniture for rust spots or corrosion and deal with them right away. Close any umbrellas to prevent moisture and debris from accumulating.

When not in use, keep your furniture in an indoor location, such as a shed or garage. If you do not have a good indoor storage space, invest in furniture covers to keep it dry and warm. Remove the cushions and bring them inside.

14. Winterize Your Lawn

Winterize your lawn so that it will come back fresh and healthy in the spring. Continue to mow the lawn until it stops growing in the late fall. Remove leaves and other debris to keep the grass from suffocating. Aerate the soil and overseed bare or thinly grassed areas. Apply a winterizing fertilizer with high potassium to nourish it through the winter.

Test the pH level and adjust as necessary. Keep watering your lawn as long as it is growing. Apply any necessary pest control to help manage winter pests like grubs. Once freezing temperatures come, avoid walking on the grass, as frozen grass is highly susceptible to damage. Remove snow blankets from your lawn, as snow piles can suffocate the grass.

15. Inventory Your Snow Removal Tools

Take a quick inventory of the tools you will need to be prepared before the snow arrives. Depending on where you live, you will need a snow shovel, a snow shover, ice melt or rock salt, a snow roof rake, a snow broom, tire chains, an ice pick, a snow blower, and gloves. Make sure that any mechanical tools, such as the snow blower, are turned on. If it will not start or will not start easily, it should be serviced before the snow arrives. Make sure that you have the right fuel on hand to last the season.