Prepare Your Home for Cold Weather

Use this checklist to get ahead of cold weather challenges and prepare your home for the seasonal changes ahead.

  • Plant bulbs for springtime flowers.
  • Cover and/or store outdoor furniture.
  • Winterize summer lawn equipment and prepare it for seasonal storage.
  • Remove window screens and (if applicable) put up storm windows and doors.
  • Replace damaged weather stripping and door sweeps.
  • Repair damaged caulking on windows.
  • Reverse ceiling fans (clockwise during winter and counterclockwise during summer).
  • Clean debris from outdoor heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) units.
  • Cover outdoor HVAC unit grates to prevent debris from accumulating. (Cover the top grate with plywood and secure it with bricks, or cover it with a tarp, if recommended by the manufacturer.)
  • Inspect whole-house humidifier systems. (Check the drain lines, valves, fans and water panels.)
  • Clean gutters and downspouts.
  • Check and trim dead or damaged tree limbs.
  • Have your chimney inspected and cleaned.
  • Stock up on firewood.
  • Clean gas fireplaces or have them professionally serviced. (Check the gas ignition, vacuum the interior, inspect ceramic logs for damage and perform other maintenance recommended by the manufacturer.)
  • Check home heating oil or propane levels. (Order ahead to lock in fuel rates and deliveries for the season.)
  • Check smoke and carbon monoxide detectors.
  • Check fire extinguisher expiration dates and replace extinguishers, if necessary.
  • Change the batteries in flashlights and weather radios (or invest in non-battery options, such as hand-crank versions).
  • Assemble a survival kit for power outages and inclement weather. (Make sure you have kits for home and travel.)
  • Clean your clothes dryer exhaust duct and vacuum lint buildup around the outside of the dryer.
  • Visually inspect electrical outlets for damaged or loose-fitting covers (they can be a fire hazard).
  • Inspect and service cold-weather tools such as shovels, leaf blowers, rakes and snowblowers.
  • Inspect walkways, railings and driveways for any safety concerns.
  • Stock up on rock salt, sand or non-clumping litter to prevent slipping on icy walkways.
  • Disconnect garden hoses and store them.
  • Manually shut off the water supply to exterior faucets and drain the water lines to prevent freezing.
  • Winterize your lawn sprinkler system using the manual, automatic or blowout draining method. (Consult your manufacturer or installation expert for assistance with your system.)
  • Cover exterior water faucets and insulate exposed pipes using foam pipe insulation.
  • Have the septic system inspected and make sure all outdoor pipes are insulated or below the frost line.
  • Prepare and cover swimming pools. (Remove accessories, deep clean the pool, bleed water lines or disconnect service hoses, and adjust water chemistry.)
  • Winterize hot tubs if not used during the winter. (Use a tight-fitting cover for safety, bleed the water lines, jets and other components, and unplug the unit.)
  • Keep hot tubs running at optimal levels if used through the winter. (Use a tight-fitting cover for safety and water heat retention, circulate the water often, use a ceramic heater to keep parts from freezing and insulate the hot tub shell.)
  • Inspect your backup generator. (Check the oil, filters, spark plugs, and battery and fuel levels.)
  • Maintain solar panels according to manufacturer recommendations. (Adjust the tilt for the winter sun position, inspect the power cells, ensure proper battery storage temperatures and other manufacturer suggestions.)