Winter safety checklist: 10 home maintenance tips for the cold months
Here's how to prepare your home for winter.
by Mandy Sleight
17 Sep 21
Ready or not, winter is on its way. Depending on where you live, you might've already felt the temperature dropping. As the hot summer days lead to cool fall temperatures, it's a good time to start preparing for the coldest months ahead — especially as extreme weather conditions become more common all over the world.
Preparing your home for winter may take some time, but many of the best measures are easy and free. Use these home maintenance tips to create a winter home maintenance checklist, so you can spend those cold days warm and cozy.
Check for leaks and drafts
Leaks and drafts coming in through cracks in walls, doors and windows can prevent proper heating and increase energy bills. If your energy company doesn't provide a home energy audit, perform one yourself. Here are a few ways to seal leaks and drafts:
- Put caulk, foam or weatherstripping around moving doors and windows.
- Use bubble wrap or a window insulator kit to seal up windows you won't be using.
- Add a storm door to reduce heat loss at the main entrance.
- Install insulation in your attic to prevent ceiling heat loss.
- Replace poorly insulated doors made of wood with an Energy Star-rated door like steel or fiberglass.
- Cover mail slots and pet doors with insulation or heavy towels to keep warm air in and cold air out.
- Use blackout curtains on your windows, keeping them open during the day to let the sun in and closing them at night to keep the heat in.
Have your chimney inspected
Before you use your fireplace or wood stove for heating, have the chimney or flue inspected and cleaned by a professional. This step can prevent chimney fires, which account for over 20,000 residential fires each year. A blocked chimney or flue can also increase your chances of carbon monoxide poisoning Don't forget fresh batteries in your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors.
If you have a nonworking or decorative fireplace, you could lose valuable heat through the open fireplace. Investing in a chimney balloon can prevent heat from escaping and cold winter air from coming in. Just make sure to remove it if you want to start a fire later on.
Have your furnace inspected
If you have a furnace, you should have it inspected each year, just like a chimney. If your furnace isn't working properly, an early inspection can give you time to buy a new one before winter sets in. You should also consider having your air ducts cleaned or cleaning them yourself. Make sure you're also changing your furnace filters regularly to keep your furnace working properly.
Cover bare floors
Laminate, wood and tile floors look great, but they can cause you to lose heat during the winter. As part of your winter home maintenance checklist, consider adding rugs or installing carpet over your bare floors to keep your feet warm and prevent heat loss.
Reverse ceiling fan blades
If your home has ceiling fans, you should switch the blade rotation with the seasons for best results. With most ceiling fans, the blades should move counterclockwise in warm months, pushing cool air down. In winter, switching the blades to clockwise rotation on the lowest setting can push the warm air in the room down from the ceiling to keep you warmer.
Be winter storm-ready
Pay attention to the weather so you have plenty of time to prepare if a winter storm is on the horizon. Have your home and car emergency kits ready to go at all times and make sure your car's maintenance is up to date with a full gas tank in case you need to leave.
If you don't have a portable generator at home, now might be the time to buy one. Generators can keep your home warm until the power company can get you back up and running.