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Your Winter Home Maintenance & Safety Checklist

Jalesa Campbell
Updated Dec 22, 2020
1 min read
Winter’s here, and while you may want to stay snug and warm, it’s also important to keep an eye on areas within and around your home to make sure things are in top shape (and to help you avoid costly repairs).

There’s Snow Place Like Home: Keeping Up With Home Maintenance During the Winter

Your home is a major investment, and although the winter weather tends to make us want to stay indoors, there are still bits and pieces we need to check over every now and again. Even periodic checks of equipment and areas of your home could potentially help you save on expensive repairs. We want to help you keep your home in tip-top shape this winter, and any extreme cold weather, so we’ve put together this handy home maintenance and safety checklist.

As a bonus, it rhymes, making it easier for you to remember some of the top things to check for.

13 Winter Home Maintenance Tips

  • 1

    1. Is the wind coming in? Check for door and window drafts

    Do you feel any cold air seeping in from doors and windows? This could indicate poor sealing. One way you can check is to use an incense stick. Take one, light it, and hold it up to the suspected door or window. If the smoke whirls around instead of rising as it normally would, then this indicates a crack. You can fill those cracks with caulk or even add weatherstripping. Sealing those cracks could help you save on your winter energy bills.

  • 2

    2. Ice is not nice. Check for roof ice dams

    If you live in areas where snow and ice are more common during the winter months, you may end up having ice dams on the overhang of your roof. An ice dam is an area, usually on the edge of your roof, where snow and running water accumulate. Typically, water runs down and collects at the overhang where there’s less heating, leading the water to freeze. Ice dams can lead to water seeping into your attic and damaging your roof and ceiling. For maintenance, use a rake to clear away ice or install heated cables along your roof to prevent freezing and encourage water run-off through your gutters.

  • 3

    3. Just in case, check your fireplace

    This is the time of year when many of us are gathering around fireplaces for warmth. For wood fireplaces, it’s best to have them serviced each year for the removal of build-up and to decrease the chances of chimney fires. You can also have your gas fireplace serviced if you’re not comfortable with doing it yourself. Just make sure that your smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors are working properly for your safety.

  • 4

    4. Believe the hype - Check for frozen pipes

    Whether your home has metal and or plastic pipes, whenever water freezes, it expands, which can cause pipes to crack and burst – leading to repairs. Pipes that are more susceptible to freezing are those exposed to the outdoor winter weather like your outdoor water valves and any water valves that are in cooler areas of your home. One way to prevent your pipes from freezing is to add insulation. You can add pipe sleeves, heat tape, or even allow your water to run a little to help keep your pipes from freezing.

  • 5

    5. Any outdoor clutter? Time to check the gutters

    Although it’s winter, you can still have leaves and other clutter around your gutters. Clogged gutters prevent water from continuing its flow away from your home. It’s as simple as dedicating a little extra time on the weekends or weekday afternoons to clear out your gutters and make sure there’s nothing blocking water flow from your home. Left unchecked, you run the risk of damaging your foundation, ceilings, walls and possibly basement flooding.

  • 6

    6. Don’t let things get off kilter - Check your air filters

    Don’t make your HVAC system work harder than it needs to this winter. Check your air filters for collected dirt and dust. By keeping your filters clean, you’ll not only have cleaner air, but you could also save on your energy bill. Another plus is that your rooms can be more properly warmed. Make sure to find the appropriate sizes and replace your air filters this winter.

  • 7

    7. Avoid harm with working carbon monoxide and smoke alarms

    When we’re running our heating systems, space heaters, and fireplaces during the wintertime, it’s important to make sure our CO detectors and smoke detectors are functioning properly. If your smoke alarm is beeping, it may be time to replace the batteries or replace the unit. There is also an influx of home fires in the fall and winter, with most of them starting in the kitchen and being caused by heating sources (The Red Cross). Make sure you and your family are prepared with working CO detectors and smoke alarms.

  • 8

    8. Store away your seasonal tools

    Keep your shovels, rakes, trimmers, and other tools stored safely away from the winter elements. You’ll prolong their use and also be able to easily locate them when you need them. Also, consider keeping a de-icing product or medium on hand like sand or salt if you live in an area prone to snow and ice.

  • 9

    9. Keep things bright with working outdoor lights

    Check your outdoor lights to ensure they’re burning. If you want to try to save on your bill, consider adding solar lights to your driveway or yard. You can also invest in smart lighting to set a schedule for when your outdoor lights should turn on and off. Plus, this can help with securing your home to make it look as if someone’s there when everyone’s away.

  • 10

    10. Be sure to trim those tree limbs

    Once the leaves fall off trees for the winter, limbs are exposed, and a lot of times you may be able to identify dead limbs as well as those that have dropped down too close to the ground or above your house. Go ahead and arrange for the limbs to be trimmed back. Ultimately, you’ll spare yourself some extra trouble and work in the event of an ice or snowstorm.

  • 11

    11. Keep in step with winter storm prep

    Are you stocked up on food supplies and household necessities in the event of winter storms? If possible, try to avoid the rush before the storm by stocking up on supplies like flashlights, batteries, canned goods, water, medications, blankets, and any other necessary items. Having these items on hand can make a huge difference in the event you’re snowed in, the roads are too bad to travel, or worse – there’s no power.

  • 12

    12. Don’t wait until later – Do you have a generator?

    It’s better to be over-prepared than under-prepared in the event of an emergency. If you don’t have a home generator, we’d recommend investing in one just in case you lose power – especially if you live a good distance from city services or neighbors. Look for generators that have cold start technology, a portable design, and a fuel gauge. With a generator, you can also prevent perishables from going to the bad (and having to replace them later). Just make sure you follow safety procedures when using your generator.


Safety and Security Reporter

Jalesa Campbell

Jalesa is one of Safety.com's staff experts on home security, natural disasters, public safety, and family safety. She's been featured on Today.com and elsewhere.

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