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Fall Maintenance Checklist: Winter Proofing Your Home

Updated on October 23, 2010
Prepare Your Home Now for Winter
Prepare Your Home Now for Winter | Source

Simple Home Maintenance Checklist to Get Ready For Snow

Regular maintenance on your home in the autumn will ensure it’s snug and safe when the snow flies.

With this simple checklist, you can ensure that you and your home are ready for almost anything Winter can throw at it.

Replace Outdoor Lights

As the days get shorter, you’re more likely to find yourself leaving or coming home in the dark. Take the time to replace the light bulbs in your outdoor light fixtures to ensure you and your visitors can see safe footing and to deter burglars.

Check Your Roof

If your roof is more than 10 years old, its time to check it regularly for peeled or missing shingles. Snowfall and spring run-off can quickly seep through a decrepit roof, and you’ll be faced with replacing both the roof and your ceiling if there’s a leak.

Lay in Snow-Busting Supplies

There’s nothing worse than a surprise snowfall when you don’t have the tools to deal with it. Make sure you have a bag of de-icing salt, and a good snow shovel or snow blower.

Clean Windows

Once the temperature drops below freezing, you may not be able to safely or effectively clean your windows. Take the time now to clean your windows with a mild solution of dish detergent and water, then rinse with the garden hose to a sparkling shine. You’ll enjoy the view of your first snowfall that much more!

Rake Leaves… or Don’t!

Most people opt to rake the leaves on their lawns because they don’t like the untidy look in the fall. However, leaves are rich in nutrients that your lawn needs. Consider running your lawn mower over leaves in the late fall before the snow arrives to chop the leaves into small pieces and allow them to decompose over the winter as a free fertilizer.

Trim or Wrap Hedges

Large hedges can take a beating in the winter, when heavy snowfall can cause weak branches to break. Trim your hedges back 1 to 4 inches to maintain their shape and thin out weak or overgrown branches. If the hedge is less than 3 years old or is particularly delicate for your climate, consider wrapping the hedge loosely in burlap (purchased from your local garden center) to keep it protected in the winter.

Check and Clean Your Eavestroughs

If you have any large overhanging trees on or around your property, your eavestroughs may collect falling leaves, which can block downspouts and retain snow and ice. This may lead to ice backing up under your shingles, and eventually allowing water into the house. Using a large ladder, check your gutters and clean of debris. Ensure downspouts point away from your house, and don’t leak water any closer than 2 feet from the foundation.

Eliminate Drafts

A crack the size of a dime can reduce a room’s heat efficiency by up to 30%. Check windows, doors, and foundations for cracks and crevices that may be seeping heat in the winter.

Tip to Search for Drafts: On a windy day, create a simple fogger by putting tablespoon of cornstarch in a turkey baster, and puffing it around doors and windows inside the house, then simply look for the dust being drawn outside.

Replace cracked or peeling sealing strips around doors, seal window frames with caulking, and apply fresh mortar to any cracks or crumbling mortar in foundations.

Check Air Filters and Vents

A sealed and heated winter house can quickly become stuffy if air filters are dirty. Check air filters at least once every two months and replace as necessary. Ensure that vents are closed or open appropriately. Remember that heat rises, so partially closing the vents in upper floors of the house may ensure even heat distribution (follow the opposite logic in the Spring when air conditioning is turned on).

Replace Fire Alarm Batteries

Household fires are more common in the winter, when furnaces and candles are used more often. Ensure your home is fire-resistant by replacing batteries in all fire alarms, and installing fire alarms on every floor of your house.

Clean Out the Garage

Most people regret using their garage for extra storage when they’re scraping ice off their car on a cold winter morning. Take the time to clear your garage and make space for the car park. If you have too much unused stuff, consider donating unused items to charity or calling a junk hauler to take away your garbage for a nominal fee.

Tip for Parking Your Car In the Garage: If you’ve ever been concerned that you won’t know how far to park into your garage and still get the door closed, put the car in the garage and hang a ping pong ball on a string from the ceiling so its touching the windshield. The ping pong ball is then your guide going forward for pulling into the garage.

Drop Some Throw Rugs

Snow, ice and salt quickly make a nasty slurry on any hard surface floors near entrance points. Install cheap and durable floor mats near doors to soak up water clinging to people’s boots.

Maintain Gardening Tools

When you’re eager to get gardening In the Spring, you’ll thank yourself for making sure your tools are well maintained. Check gardening tools for rust and scour away with steel dishpads if needed. Wipe wooden implements with mineral oil and spray metal implements with WD40 to repel water and keep rust away.

Create Your Emergency Kit

Losing power in the winter can be serious, if temperatures inside the house drop below freezing. Pipes may freeze or water pressure may stop, and in a storm you may not be able to go out to get supplies. Ensure that you’re prepared for a long power outage by putting together an emergency kit including:

  • A flashlight, and two sets of spare batteries or lantern with an extra fuel can
  • An empty paint can or large coffee tin and bundle of candles, to create a small heat source or to melt water if necessary
  • Two 1 gallon jugs of water per person in the house
  • A battery powered or handcrank radio, to listen for news updates
  • Hand sanitizer
  • A few good warm blankets
  • Canned food that doesn’t require heating, and a manual can opener

Store your Emergency Kit where it’s easily accessible with the lights off, preferably along with a First Aid Kit.

With this simple checklist and a few hours of work, you can ensure that your home is ready for Winter, and you’re not left out in the cold dealing with a preventable problem.


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