Skip to main content

Our ultimate checklist for winterizing your home before cold weather hits

When the weather cools down in the fall, you probably start dreaming of pumpkin desserts, warm blankets, and holiday parties. Before you jump into relaxation mode, though, it’s important to prepare your home for the cold months ahead. Being proactive is key when it comes to winterizing your home, so it’s time to create a checklist of all the areas of your home that need seasonal maintenance, both inside and out. Here is our ultimate checklist for winterizing your home, so you can enjoy everything winter has to offer with some peace of mind.

modern gray brick home in winter
Image used with permission by copyright holder

Winterizing the inside of your home

The two most common concerns for homeowners in the winter are high heating bills and the threat of burst pipes. Address these two concerns by taking a proactive approach and preparing the inside of your home for the cold weather ahead.

Switch over from air conditioning to heat

Before you make the switchover, clean your outdoor air conditioning unit by using a hose to remove debris. Let it dry completely before covering it for the winter. If you have air conditioning window units, remove and store them or cover them to block the cold air that tends to seep in.

Inspect your furnace and ensure the air and exhaust vents are clear, then replace the furnace’s air filter. Before the temperatures get too chilly, do a test run on your heating system. This way, you can handle any necessary maintenance so you can have efficient heating all season long.

Winterize your windows and doors

Drafty windows lead to elevated heating bills, so examine your window locks and clean all the tracks to clear out grime and debris that can impact the window’s seal. Perform a draft check on all windows and exterior doors on a cool, windy day, and caulk any gaps or cracks in moldings, both inside and outside your doors and windows. Make sure the door sweeps are in good working condition and replace them if needed.

Check your attic for drafts

During a chilly, windy fall day, search for drafty spots in your attic and install insulation if needed. Since heat rises, it may escape through your poorly insulated attic, driving up your heating.

Prepare exposed pipes and faucets

Water expands when it freezes, so avoid burst pipes and flooding damage by insulating pipes in areas that aren’t temperature-controlled. This includes your attic, crawlspace, garage, and outdoor faucets.

outdoor string of light bulbs with icicles
Image used with permission by copyright holder

Winterizing the outside of your home

While you’ll be hunkered down indoors for the coming months, preparing the outside of your home for winter is equally important as addressing the inside of your home. Performing some outdoor inspections and tasks could save you lots of cash down the road, preventing the need for costly repairs.

Clean and store outdoor furniture and tools

  • Lawnmower. Drain any remaining gasoline, remove any debris and lawn waste from blades and other compartments, then store the machine in a dry place to prevent rust and corrosion.
  • Gardening tools. Clean and dry them thoroughly, then store them away.
  • Patio furniture. Wash and dry all the pieces before covering them or storing them indoors.
  • Grill. Clean off any food particles to avoid attracting pests. Cover or store it indoors for the winter.

Prepare your pool for winter

To prepare the pool, remove all accessories like ladders, chemical meters, and dispensers. Check the water’s chemical levels, clean and storing pool pumps, and dispose of old filters. Depending on your region, preparing the pool for colder months may vary, so follow the manufacturer’s recommendations to determine whether you need to drain it completely or just cover it.

Shut off outdoor water sources

Since water expands when it’s frozen, any remaining water in your sprinkler system or garden hose can cause damage that you’ll have to repair in the spring. Shut off your garden hose and sprinkler system once your yardwork has come to an end, and drain them of water before the freezing temperatures arrive.

Examine your roof

Check for damaged or missing shingles on your roof and have them repaired or replaced, then clean out your gutters and downspouts. Make sure your roof’s flashing is in good condition to reduce the chance of leaks or flooding in your home.

Consider re-staining your deck

Winter months expose your wooden deck to a lot of moisture which expands wood, creates cracks in the deck boards, and can cause mold and wood rot. To best protect your deck from the harsh elements, re-stain the boards every two or three years.

With all the upcoming fall and winter festivities, make sure your home is in tip-top shape, whether you’re hosting the family gatherings or just cuddling up next to the fireplace with a good book. Winterizing your home isn’t a very glamorous project, but it can save you money on future repairs, keep you more comfortable during cold weather, and give you some much-needed peace of mind.

Editors' Recommendations

Veronica Sparks
Veronica Sparks is a writer from Milwaukee, Wisconsin who loves writing about gardening, home décor, and DIY life. She’s…
How often should you water new sod? What you need to know
Taking care of your new sod is an investment
Lawn sprinkler

If you need a new lawn quickly, sod is definitely the way to go. Unfortunately, it’s not cheap. Professional installation of just 500 square feet of sod, an area slightly smaller than two parking spaces, typically costs upward of $750 for materials and labor. Even then, most landscapers can't guarantee a healthy and flourishing lawn. If it dies, you have to pay even more to replace it. With that kind of investment on the line, give your lawn the care it needs to grow. All it takes is water and a little bit of patience. 
What you will need to water your sod
If you don’t have an in-ground sprinkler system, you will need the following equipment:

Garden hose(s) long enough to reach the entire sodded area
Hose-end lawn sprinkler(s) of your choice
Several rain gauges
Hose "Y" or manifold splitter (optional)
Hose timer/automatic shutoff (optional)

Read more
When you should (and shouldn’t) put used coffee grounds in your garden
Coffee grounds do have a place in your garden
coffee grounds mixed in the garden compost bin

Depending on how into gardening you are, you may be aware that putting used coffee grounds in your garden is a highly debated topic. Some people swear by using coffee grounds for growing plants, while others say it's the worst thing you can do for your garden.

So which opinion is correct, and how do you know which side to trust? How do you know if you should -- or shouldn’t -- put used coffee grounds in your garden? We’ve researched the pros and cons and broken them down below so you can decide if you want to use coffee grounds in the garden.
Should you use coffee grounds as mulch?
Using mulch in your garden can be beneficial, but many people find the cost of mulch too expensive to turn into organic matter. Straw and compost can be used as mulch, but not many people have tons of straw lying around, and compost takes months to create. So it seems as though coffee grounds would be the perfect solution for gardeners in need of mulch.

Read more
Buying a forever home? This site shows how future flooding could affect your neighborhood
This research shows the real impact of being cut off from rising sea levels
best netflix ocean documentary woman

Buying a new home is one of the biggest decisions you'll make in your life. It can be stressful, and in addition to all the considerations like schools, location, neighborhood, and home type, you also need to plan for emergencies. For those looking to buy on one of the coasts, flooding can be one of those risks you need to think about when finding your forever home. But not just flooding of your home; what will happen if that flooding results in your home being displaced from essential services like grocery stores, hospitals, and schools? It's not something we think about every day, but for some, that possibility is closer than you may think.

A group of researchers from the University of Maryland and University of Canterbury showed that "targeted, effective, and timely climate change adaptation planning relies on estimates of how many people may be forced from their homes by sea-level rise and when this displacement will start to occur." Simply put, they measured the possible isolation driven by sea level rise due to climate change.

Read more