Preparing for Winter Weather

Residents and homeowners are preparing their homes for the holidays with wreaths, lights, and other festive decorations, and it’s a great time to remind them to get their home ready for the cold weather and winter freezes, too. After all, doing the proper preparation now can avoid costly repairs later. It’s especially important to prepare now if residents will be away from home, traveling or visiting friends and family, when problems can go undetected for days or weeks. Here are some helpful reminders to share with your community.

To prepare inside a house, apartment, townhome, or condo:

  • If it’s been a while since you last used your fireplace, then be sure to clean it thoroughly and to get your chimney inspected and cleaned as well. Buildup inside a chimney can start a fire when it is used.
  • Have your furnace inspected to ensure it’s safe and ready for continual use. You want to be sure it will be in working order all winter.
  • Check that there aren’t any drafts coming from the edges of windows or doors. When checking windows for drafts, inspect their seal. If needed, add an extra layer of sealant around the window and caulk any holes. If a door is letting in cold air, it might need to be tightened or re-hung for a snugger fit.
  • Need immediate relief from the cold or high heating bills? You can hang heavy curtains to block the cold from coming through drafty windows. Draft stoppers, which can be as simple as a rolled-up blanket or towel on the floor in front of a door, can also prevent cold air from coming inside.Cracks around bathroom and kitchen pipes should be repaired and sealed as soon as possible.
  • Cold weather can be destructive for water pipes, so it is a good idea to make sure your pipes are well-insulated. Other ideas: wrap outdoor pipes and indoor pipes in unheated areas during a freeze. When the temperatures dip below freezing, open faucets ever so slightly to allow a small amount of water to continuously drip (moving water does not freeze as quickly). Inside the house, you can open the cabinets under sinks to let the indoor heat warm the pipes.
  • Check attic insulation for areas that need repair.
  • Test carbon monoxide and smoke alarms and replace alarms that are more than 10 years old.


To do outside to prepare a home:

  • Trim trees hanging over your house and cars so that branches won’t fall when heavy with snow or ice.
  • Clean gutters so they aren’t clogged with fallen leaves. This prevents ice dam formation which can cause clogged water to back up in your house.
  • Make sure you know the location of your water shutoff valve. Test the valve to make sure it’s not stuck and that it can be shut off in an emergency.
  • Bring in garden hoses, patio and deck furniture, and other outside items that will not withstand cold temperatures and wet winter weather.