The “Honey-Do” List

How to Prepare Your Home for Cold Weather

Michael Lawson, Writer
Reading Time: 3 minutes
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Just as spring cleaning gets your home ready for the active summer months, fall chores prepare it for the brutal wear and tear of winter. Breakdowns and repairs can be rough enough in good weather, but the inconvenience can be multiplied tenfold when it’s cold outside. Now is the time to check around your house — inside and out — to make sure everything is in good working order.

Gutters: Clogged gutters prevent water from draining off the roof and away from the home’s foundation. Make sure your gutters are free of all leaves, twigs and debris, but keep safety in mind. If you use a ladder while inspecting and cleaning gutters, always have someone steady the bottom for you. Remember to take the time to move the ladder as needed to avoid accidents caused by overreaching.

If you are nervous about climbing a ladder, consider a leaf blower extension that can reach into your gutters and blow out leaves. Or you can make the job even easier: Hire a contractor to install guards that keep debris from getting into your gutters in the first place. Once your gutters are clean, flush them out with a garden hose. Check for leaks and be certain that joints where gutters meets downspouts are working as they should.

Seal, Clean And Empty: Inspect the paint and hardware on the walls, trim and railings of your house. If needed, touch up the paint, but only after using a stiff brush to remove old, flaking paint, then priming the wood. Check caulk around windows and doors to be sure it is still sealing properly. Examine all doors, including your garage doors, to be sure they close tightly. Replace weather-stripping felt and threshold rubber pads if they appear worn.

Disconnect, drain and roll up your garden hoses. Install insulating covers on exterior spigots and, if you live in a hard-freeze region, have all water blown out of the lawn sprinkler system.

Changing furnace filters monthly helps you get maximum energy savings and indoor air comfort. Now is the time to buy a supply of filters to get you through the winter. To prevent fire hazards, have chimneys and flues inspected and cleaned, if necessary.

What Will Hibernate

Some items won’t be used again until the first robin of spring arrives. They need to be cleaned and repaired, if necessary, before they are put in storage. Whether it’s patio furniture, lawn umbrellas or even children's summer toys, clean and store all items carefully until you need them again when the weather warms up.

After you cut your lawn one last time, run the mower until it is out of gasoline. Gas left in a tank for months can clog the engine’s carburetor, causing it to run poorly the next time you start it up. Remember to also change the oil and inspect the spark plug. In the spring you'll only have to add new gas and begin mowing.

You may have other tasks to do to get ready for the cold, but accomplishing these chores is a good start. When you’re done, curl up with your favorite warm beverage and enjoy a worry-free winter.