Winter Preparation & Maintenance


A Yearly Checklist for Your Home

To provide your family lasting comfort and security, your home needs attention and care. Preparing for the harsh winter months is an essential part of home maintenance. Taking these proactive steps will help protect your family, lower your energy bills, and increase the life expectancy of your home and its systems.


01. Exterior Preparation

The exterior of your home must be prepared to handle the snow and ice that come with the winter season. Your roof, gutters, and other exterior elements may need special attention to survive winter.


The roof is your home’s first and most important defense against winter weather. With winter approaching, assessing the condition of your roof is a safeguard against serious problems. Getting onto your roof to address or check for an issue will be more difficult in the harsh winter season, making proactive and regular maintenance important. Evaluate the overall health of your roof by looking at a few key parts. A regular roof inspection should be an essential item on your winter preparation checklist. Every issue can’t be seen with novice eyes. Roofing professionals can help you find and solve the issue before it’s too late.


Flashing helps to prevent leaks in your roof, and issues with flashing can lead to serious water damage. You find flashing at the intersections of your roof. It assists with channeling water off your roof and protecting the less secure intersection areas. Flashing can be torn and damaged during storms with high wind and in freezing temperatures.

Checking your flashing before and after storms should be a top priority. When assessing flashing, be sure to check for loose, uplifted, corroded, or torn areas. If you find that flashing is damaged, have a professional roofer make repairs for you before it’s too late.


Shingles work hard to protect your home, and they often sustain damage. Over time, shingles experience wear and tear and need repairs. The National Roofing Contractors Association recommends having your roof inspected two times a year to prevent damage to your home. Spring and fall are the ideal times to schedule a roof inspection to check on your shingles, with fall being particularly important in preparation for winter.

If you spot granules in your gutters or around your home, this may be a sign of loose or damaged shingles. Call a professional if you notice areas where shingles are curling or lifted, as these will need repairs. Often, shingle repairs do not require a full roof replacement, but get a professional assessment before going into the winter season.


02. Ice Dam Prevention

Ice dams are, unfortunately, a common issue for roofs in the winter months. Ice dams often occur due to improper attic insulation. When an attic is not properly insulated, heat escapes and melts snow or ice on the roof, which then refreezes and causes ice buildup. Ice dams can lead to leaks and extensive roof damage, including roof cave-in.

If your home regularly develops ice dams, the best solution is to improve your insulation. If this isn’t feasible right now, however, installing heat tape is a quick and cost-effective solution to prevent ice buildup. While it doesn’t address the source of the problem, it is a good way to prevent damage from this year’s winter weather.


Your gutters are nearly as important as your roof when it comes to keeping your home leak free and secure during the winter. Clearing your gutters and checking them for problems before winter hits is an essential part of regular home maintenance.

While ice dams are caused by heat escaping through the roof, the ice often builds up in the gutters. As snow and ice melt on your roof, they need room to run off. When your gutters are clogged with debris, the water gets trapped and refreezes inside them. Once enough ice has built up here, your gutters can break beyond repair. Cleaning your gutters after the fall season is an effective way to ensure that water has a clear path away from your roof.

Clean up after fall

03. Cleaning After Fall

Autumn brings beautiful falling leaves, but they seem less beautiful when they are stuck in your gutter and causing problems. With winter on the way, cleaning out your gutters becomes a high priority. In addition to ice dams, a gutter full of debris can result in many problems. Gutters channel water off your roof and away from your home. When they are full, they can overflow or cause water to pool on the edges of your roof. This can cause leaks, further roof damage, and even damage to your home’s siding.


Staying warm in the winter is a priority for everyone. The exterior of your home, and especially your siding, is important for winter comfort. When siding is loose or damaged, the home is more prone to losing heat. If sections of your siding appear to be loose, consider having your siding replaced before winter weather sends your energy bills soaring or causes further damage to your home. Also look for exterior damage from storms, falling branches, and other hazards. Siding should lay flat against your home with no gaps or warping. If you notice an unusual appearance to your siding, have it examined by a professional.


Insulation is about more than just your attic and roof. Windows play a large role in keeping your home warm and insulated. The first thing you should do is make sure that your windows are sealed properly. You should not be able to see any gaps or feel any drafts through your windows.

You can add weatherstripping to your windows without the help of a professional. If your windows already have weatherstripping, check it for damage. You can also seal the inside of your windows using a window wrap kit to help keep cold air out of your home.


A fireplace can lose a lot of heat. As you prepare for winter, consider how to prepare your chimney for the season. One option is to use a fireplace sealer. A sealer, as the name implies, seals off the chimney so heat doesn’t escape, and cold air doesn’t enter. Many use balloon sealers to plug their chimneys before winter, which you can easily remove when you want to light a fire. Contacting a professional to inspect your chimney is the best way to prepare it for winter. Cracks in your chimney can be signs of instability or poor insulation.


04. Monitoring Home Health Through the Winter

The winter months bring many changes to the conditions of your home. Keep a close eye on humidity levels, condensation, and insulation to prevent large issues.

Humidity Levels

The air in your home can be particularly dry in the winter. Dry air can cause health problems such as dry, itchy skin and eyes, nose and throat irritation, and increased vulnerability to sickness. Using a humidifier, however, can also lead to issues. A home with too much humidity feels stuffy and can produce condensation, which leads to mold growth. Mold in your home can exacerbate allergies and cause respiratory problems. Humidifiers need to be cleaned regularly to ensure the vapor they release is free of pollutants. Changing water frequently and using distilled water in your humidifier are both good practices for maintaining good indoor air quality.

According to the medical experts at the Mayo Clinic, the humidity level in your home should be between 30 and 50 percent. The best way to measure humidity levels is with a hygrometer. If you decide that your home needs a humidifier, it is best to purchase one that has a hygrometer built in so that you can easily manage your home’s humidity levels. Contacting a professional to install a whole-home dehumidifier or humidifier is another good option for controlling the humidity in your home. A whole-home system will work alongside your HVAC system to ensure humidity levels are properly maintained.

Attic Condensation & Ice Dams

Attic condensation and ice dams are the two main causes of roof leaks in the winter months, and both are caused by poor attic insulation. Adding too much moisture to the home with a humidifier can also cause condensation in the attic. Attic condensation may not be noticeable until it becomes a major problem, but it can be as harmful to your home as an ice dam. Attic condensation can slowly rot away roofing beams and allow mold to develop. You can monitor attic condensation by checking above areas such as the bathroom and kitchen, which may be prone to excess moisture.

The biggest tip for managing both condensation and ice dam-related leaks is to maintain sufficient insulation and ventilation in the attic. Monitor the temperature in your attic to determine if heat is seeping in from your home. If so, be sure to address the situation promptly, or you will likely have problems with ice dams and condensation.

Insulation and Ventilation

Proper insulation and ventilation are key to keeping your home cozy and safe at any time of the year, but especially during winter. If you find you have insufficient insulation during the winter, call a professional to reinforce or replace your insulation. You can also increase your home’s heat efficiency by sealing any drafty areas.

If your ventilation is inadequate, upgrading your system will be the best long-term solution, but you can take steps to keep your home more comfortable in the meantime. Opening vents and windows in humid areas such as bathrooms when in use will help to eliminate excess moisture. Humidifiers and dehumidifiers can also be helpful in trouble areas where ventilation is lacking.


05. Severe Winter Weather Home Hazards

Severe winter weather puts your home at risk. Before it arrives, make sure your home is prepared to face whatever challenges winter storms may bring.

Frozen Pipes

Frozen pipes are a common problem in winter weather. To prevent pipes from freezing, drain and store outdoor hoses; insulate areas where there are water supply lines; let water drip from faucets served by vulnerable pipes; and always leave your heat on in the winter, even if you are away.

Power Outages

Power outages are common during winter storms. While there isn’t much you can do to prevent the power from going out, you can prepare by having a generator to provide some power when it does. Stock up on fuel for your generator before a storm hits to stay safe and comfortable no matter how long it may last.

Heavy Snow

If heavy snow is common in your area, prepare for winter storms by having plenty of supplies on hand to remain comfortable inside your home for several days, potentially with no power. Heavy snow can also weaken the structure of your roof, which is why preparing your roof for winter is essential, and create a hazard by sliding off your roof and endangering those below. If you have a metal roof, installing a snow retention system can help prevent this. As always, be sure that any heating methods you use are safe and properly ventilated before the cold weather hits.

Fire Hazards

According to the National Fire Protection Association, heating equipment is the second leading cause of home fires and related deaths and injuries in the United States. Simply being prepared with knowledge can prevent a disaster in your home.

Space Heaters

Space heaters are most often involved in home fires caused by heating equipment. Be sure to keep anything that could burn at least 3 feet away from the heater, and monitor children closely if they are nearby.

Dryer Vents

Dryer fires are an easy problem to prevent. Clean the lint out of your dryer filter after every use to prevent the buildup that leads to fires. Regularly replacing the accordion duct that connects your dryer to the vent is a good precautionary measure. If you wash clothing or other fabrics that are stained with flammable chemicals, hang dry them rather than placing them in the dryer.

Kitchen Fires

With more people at home and staying in during the winter, there is more activity in the kitchen than normal. To prevent kitchen fires, avoid leaving hot appliances unattended. As with any exposed flame or hot surface, be aware of all materials that are in the immediate vicinity of the appliance. Clean the kitchen regularly to avoid grease buildup, and be sure that your kitchen area is properly ventilated. Always run the exhaust fan when cooking on the stovetop.

Fireplace Safety

A winter fire is good for the soul, but it’s important to take certain precautions to protect your home and family. Have your chimney and fireplace checked annually to keep them in safe working condition. If your fireplace doesn’t have an external air supply, consider keeping a window cracked when a fire is burning. Be sure to use well aged and dried wood, and clean out the ashes after burning. Even with these precautions, be sure to keep your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors functioning reliably by replacing the batteries at least once a year.

Winter Home Improvement Projects

A winter cooped up at home provides a great opportunity for interior home improvement projects. Not only will they keep you busy during the darkest days, but many of the improvements you can make could also improve your quality of life during the winter season.


Your basement probably doesn’t get much attention for most of the year, so winter may be the best time to make some improvements. Whether your basement needs a cosmetic makeover, a more complete renovation that will keep the kids busy during the holidays, or critical improvements like additional insulation, winter could be the best time to tackle it. Your basement may need more help regulating temperature and controlling moisture than other parts of your home. Adding insulation will help you maintain temperature and humidity levels in your whole home.


Carpet may feel good under our feet and make your home look nice, but it’s also a great insulator. Taking time to install new carpet in your home could give it that extra boost of cozy for the cold winter months. Replacing old carpet can also increase your air quality by ridding the space of hidden dirt and bacteria.


You’ve probably gathered that quality insulation is key to winter home comfort. Adding insulation in many areas of your home will help decrease your energy bills and keep your home warm and dry. If you missed doing so in preparation for winter, consider adding insulation to crawl spaces, between floor joists, and anywhere that you notice drafts or insufficient existing insulation.


Organizing isn’t just for spring! Decluttering your home, particularly your basement and attic, promotes a calmer state of mind and makes it easier to access your entire home to look for leaks, cracks, and any other areas that may need attention. While your basement and attic space may not be where you want to hang out all winter, having them organized and clutter free could help you avoid the need for repairs later by exposing potential problems now.

Programmable Thermostat

Saving energy not only benefits the planet but also saves you money. Installing a programmable thermostat this winter can help. A programmable thermostat allows you to customize your heating and cooling settings to the way you use your home and prevent wasteful, unnecessary heating and cooling when it’s not needed. Some programmable thermostats can even determine the outside weather and any allergen warnings and automatically turn on your home’s fan to improve the indoor air quality when allergen levels are high.

Caring for your home means caring for your health, safety, and comfort. Preparing for the winter season in advance will help you save money and energy while ensuring that you and your family stay safe this season. If you have concerns or notice issues to be addressed, don’t hesitate to call a professional.