With the first frost of winter already upon many homes and fast approaching for others, you’ll want to make sure your home is properly prepped for the season. Maintain a safe and healthy home by checking a few home maintenance tasks off your to-do list. From dodging the December chill by protecting your home from icicles to being smart about fireplace safety and prepared for hanging holiday decorations, it’s important to keep your home secure this month before major snowfall.

[Read: How to Guard Against 9 Winter Home Hazards.]

The following are 10 tasks to check off your to-do list before winter hits.

1. Test all alarms and detectors. Check the batteries in your smoke alarms and test any carbon monoxide detectors or security alarm systems. House fires and heater malfunctions are common in winter, and it’s imperative for your safety that all detectors are working properly. A quick check on each system will bring peace of mind in the case of any fires or holiday break-ins.

2. Check for fire extinguishers. Make sure your kitchen is stocked with at least one working fire extinguisher to control any small fires that may occur while cooking your holiday meals.

3. Stock up on firewood. Prepare for a hard winter by stocking up on firewood early, if you have a wood-burning fireplace. If you use a fireplace often during the winter, you’ll want to have enough firewood to last you all season long. Choose seasoned hardwood like oak or maple for a slow-burning and hot fire.

4. Untangle and test holiday lights. If you plan on putting up holiday lights this season, it’s important to test and inspect all light strands. Prep your holiday lights by safely untangling each strand. Be sure to plug in all lights and check that all bulbs are lit, intact and in good working order.

5. Check your gutters. Are your gutters clear of leaves, debris and ice dams or icicles? Cleaning and inspecting your gutters before winter weather hits will prevent any potential damage. Without proper care, loaded-down gutters can pull away from the side of your house, or lead to leaks and water damage as water gets under the roof shingles when ice damming occurs. Hire a gutter cleaning service or gutter contractor for a thorough inspection.

6. Save on heating costs. If you’re worried about racking up heating costs over the winter, try cutting costs with a few simple tricks. Try reversing the ceiling fan, adding weatherstripping to block drafts from doors and windows or lay down rugs to add an extra layer of warmth to your floors.

[See: 10 Ways to Save Energy and Reduce Utility Bills at Home.]

7. Prep for snow removal. Make sure you have shovels, de-icers, snow blowers and other ice-melting products before any serious snowfall. Know where everything is located, and have plenty of gas for any snow blowers or other automated tools to help you clear snow during a storm.

8. Clean your air filters. You’ll want to check your cooling and heating systems before the worst parts of winter to ensure all air filters are clean. Dirty air filters can result in a decrease in indoor air quality and efficiency, ultimately damaging your heating and cooling systems. It’s best to be proactive to avoid a heater malfunction during a snow storm or deep freeze that could lead to other problems in your home, like freezing pipes.

9. Store outdoor water hoses. Store your water hose for winter by turning the spigot off, unhooking the hose and removing any attachments. Next, drain your hose, coil it up and store in your garage or shed.

[See: 8 Easy Renovation Projects Every Homeowner Can Do Now.]

10. Cover outdoor furniture and grill. Properly store your outdoor items by packing up your patio furniture that can be placed in the garage, along with any umbrellas and chairs. By keeping your outdoor furniture out of the winter elements, it’ll be in better shape once spring comes, and you’re less likely to have to replace pieces every couple of years. For larger outdoor items, such as grills and tables, purchase protective covers to keep safe during harsh winter weather.

Tags: real estate, housing, home improvements, weather


Mady Dahlstrom is the Senior Editor of Porch.com’s advice section. Mady focuses on home remodeling, real estate, DIY, interior design and decorating tips and tricks. You can find her work in ForbesLife, The Huffington Post, InStyle, Money.com, and more.

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