How to Winterize Your Home (And When to Call an Expert)

June 2024

Hand installs outdoor faucet cover to protect plumbing from freezing in the winter

Winter can be hard on your home. But by checking off some home maintenance tasks in fall and early winter, you can be sure your home is ready to weather the cold.

Between rain, snow, and extreme temperatures, even small issues can add up to large and costly problems if left unattended. Here are a few things you can do in fall and early winter to ensure your home is properly winterized before the cold season sets in.

Clean out your gutters

Now’s the time of year when leaves, acorns, pine needles, and other debris can easily fall into and clog up the gutters. Make sure that water can easily flow through the gutters so icicles and ice dams don’t form.

Check all the pipes to prevent freezing

Be thorough—chances are your home has more faucets and pipes (and potential trouble spots) than you think. 

Inside your home:

  • Take note of pipes located on exterior walls or in unheated areas—those will be your first priority to protect from freezing during cold weather.
  • Be sure you know where your main water shut-off valve is located, so you’ll be able to quickly turn off your water in case of emergency.

Outside your home:

  • If your home has a separate shut-off valve for external faucets, shut off the water, drain the faucets, and place covers over them for the winter.
  • Disconnect and store all your garden hoses so they won’t freeze up.
  • Disconnect and drain any sprinkler systems. If you have an extensive underground sprinkler system, you may want to call a professional company to blow out any leftover water that may be in the underground lines.

Check weather stripping

Check doors and windows and fix leaks to increase energy efficiency.

Prepare a 72-hour emergency kit

Even if your home is properly winterized, you could still lose power during a bad storm and roads could be treacherous. Make sure you have enough food, water, medicine, batteries, and other supplies to last a few days. Many camping and outdoor stores offer pre-made 72-hour kits.

When to bring in the experts

Once you’ve tackled the DIY projects, it’s time to schedule a few service calls.

Have your heating system inspected

The colder it gets, the busier most HVAC professionals will be. Don’t put off having your system inspected and tuned-up to ensure it’s running correctly and efficiently. A proper servicing will include:

  • Checking for carbon monoxide
  • Cleaning and replacing air filters
  • Checking blower operation
  • Cleaning motor and fan
  • Inspecting gas piping to furnace

Inspect and shut down your air conditioning

Make sure your air conditioning system is properly shut down for winter:

  • Drain any pipes or hoses coming from your air conditioner
  • Vacuum out any pools of water you have in the A/C’s drain pan
  • Cover your central air unit with a plastic air conditioner cover to keep water and snow out

Trim trees and vines

Trees can grow a lot in a year, extending their branches over your house, driveway, or your neighbor’s property. Keep them properly pruned—ice and snow can accumulate on the branches and cause them to snap off. Cars, sheds, roofs, and other outdoor items can be severely damaged by even the smallest icy branches.

Keep your fireplace working safely

Have a professional come in every year to clean the chimney and make sure dampers and flues are functioning properly. Keep tools and screens in working order, and clear ash away regularly.

Stay safe and cozy at home this winter

Follow these thoughtful tips and you should be able to ride out the worst of “Old Man Winter” without any serious trouble.


The information we share on our site is intended to serve as a general overview. Please refer to your policy or contact your local independent agent for specific coverage details.

Source: "11 Ways to Winterize Your Home on a Budget." BobVila, accessed October 2023.


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