7-Point Winterization Checklist: Protect Your Home From the Elements

Safeguard your home from the perils of winter weather with this home winterization checklist.

Is your home ready for winter? If you haven’t taken the proper precautions, winter’s plunging temperatures, snow and ice can wreak havoc on the condition of your home. For many of us, a home purchase is the largest investment we’ll ever make. And that means it’s worth protecting. 

Ensure your home is ready for the wintery weather ahead by following this 7-point winterization checklist.

Home Winterization Checklist

This home winterization checklist is organized into seven parts based on the area(s) of the home that should get special attention ahead of the winter season.

Inspect Your HVAC System

If you’re like many homeowners, turning on your heating system when the weather cools may be the first time you’ve checked the system in months. Inspect and prepare your HVAC system for the season ahead by completing these tasks.

  • Schedule a heating system inspection with a professional inspection service  
  • If you have a propane or oil furnace, ensure the fuel supply is topped up
  • Check for carbon monoxide leaks with a test badge or battery-operated alarm 
  • Change your HVAC filters and write down a reminder of when you changed it
  • Check your outside central air unit for any debris such as twigs, weeds or other debris that may have built up and remove it
  • Cover your exterior central air unit with a weatherproof cover, or wrap it in a tarp to protect it from potentially damaging ice and snow
  • Inside, remove and clean air duct grills and wipe around the edges of the duct
  • Use a programmable thermostat that can be adjusted based on your actual home occupancy 
  • Set any ceiling fans to rotate clockwise so that they push air down instead of pulling it up

Service Chimney and Flue 

If you have a traditional wood or gas fireplace installed, you will want to ensure that it is in good shape prior to heavier use during the colder months.

  • Test that the chimney draws up fire and smoke correctly 
  • Check the chimney for any obstructions and clear them or get a professional chimney sweep to complete this task
  • Ensure that the damper opens and closes properly 
  • Inspect fireplace brick for gaps, exposed walls or broken mortar joints

Bonus tip: This is a good time of year to check the batteries in your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors. Also ensure that you have extra batteries on hand for these life-saving devices.

Weatherproof Doors and Windows

Most energy in the home is lost through doors and windows. Leaks typically occur at the edges of hinged windows or where one slides or meets another pane. If you are unsure where leaks are coming from, schedule an infrared thermography check.

  • Install storm windows and doors
  • Check for drafts around your windows and doors and re-caulk them or use weatherstripping to form a firm seal
  • If you have previously installed weatherstripping, inspect it and ensure it’s in good repair 
  • Clean window tracks of debris than may obstruct seals
  • Ensure locking mechanisms on windows and doors work correctly and securely

Insulate Water Pipes

One of the biggest fears of any homeowner is burst pipes. Mitigate the risk (and cost!) of this type of damage by following these steps.  

  • Insulate any exposed piping in areas such as a crawlspace, exterior wall or attic
  • Drain and install an insulated cover on any exterior faucets
  • If you have a sprinkler system, shut off water to the system, drain the pipes, and allow air into the system. Or, have your lawn care company handle this 
  • If you have an outdoor pool that is not used in winter, follow the manufacturer’s specifications on how to winterize it

Inspect Exterior Steps and Handrails

Falls around the home can result in breaks, sprains, lacerations and even head injuries. Ensure that the steps and railings around your homeespecially on the exteriorare in good repair. 

  • Check for and repair any cracks or unevenness in steps and walkways
  • Test stability of hand railings and repair or replace as necessary 
  • Ensure stair treads are angled so that they do not accumulate water
  • Use an awl or screwdriver to test for rot in any wooden steps, porches, walkways or rails and repair as needed

Check Roof Integrity

Winter weather can be especially tough on your roof. Start the process of winterizing your roof by following these steps.

  • Inspect the roof for broken or missing shingles, damaged flashing or clogged gutters
  • Clear any accumulated debris from the roof such as leaves or pine needles 
  • Install metal snow guards to mitigate snow pile-up hazards
  • Cut back overhanging branches to prevent damage to shingles and gutters
  • Check the attic to ensure proper ventilation and look for water leakage

Reduce Unnecessary Energy Consumption

Look for ways to reduce unnecessary energy consumption. Here are some suggestions on tasks you can perform to find additional cost savings.

  • Schedule an infrared thermography inspection or professional energy assessment to detect areas of potential energy loss  
  • Install LED light bulbs throughout the house
  • Wrap your water heater in an insulated blanket
  • If your home uses radiant heat, install a radiator reflector on the wall behind the radiator to reflect heat away from the wall and into the room

Bonus tip: While you are looking for ways to reduce energy consumption, also take the time to examine and stock up on any winter weather storm supplies. Items you should have at hand for the season include: 

  • Ice melt
  • Ice scraper 
  • Snow shovel
  • Weather radio
  • Bottled water 
  • Flashlights (at least twoand don’t forget the extra batteries)
  • Emergency car kit containing extra blankets, first aid kit, jumper cables etc.

Schedule a Specialty Inspection

The most popular inspections home owners get ahead of the winter season are infrared thermography checks and heating system inspections. Our extensive network of certified inspectors offer homeowners flexible scheduling options and a comprehensive evaluation providing detailed information on the results of your inspection. Get your home ready for winter and contact us today.