As winter approaches, homeowners everywhere are gearing up for the holidays. Whether you’re decorating your home, getting ready to host family celebrations, or simply looking forward to lighting the first fire of the year in your fireplace, you need to make sure that you’re doing so safely without damaging your home. To keep everything in the best condition possible, here are 10 exterior home maintenance tips to prepare for winter months.

1. Inspect Your Gutters

Even if you feel like you’ve just checked your gutters, do it again before winter sets in. Inspect your gutters with a visual check to make sure that there are no cracks, clogs, or areas that are disconnecting from the roof. Gutters should have a tight seal so that they don’t leak during the winter, as leaks can cause dangerous icicles and contribute to ice dams. If your gutters are clogged, clean them out and make sure that water moves freely from your roof, through your downspout, and out and away from your home’s foundation.

2. Get a Roof Inspection

You should also schedule a professional roof inspection before it begins to snow. This will give you the peace of mind to know that your roof is in good condition and there are no dangerous problems that could intensify during winter months. If your roof is on the older side, make sure and do this as soon as possible so that if you need a roof replacement, you don’t have to wait until after the harsh winter months to do so. 

When you undergo a roof inspection, ask about checking the chimney as well. This is especially important if you plan on lighting fires this holiday season. Damage around the chimney should be repaired prior to using your fireplace and the inside walls should be professionally cleaned to reduce the risk of fire, blockages, and carbon monoxide exposure.

3. Examine Your Siding and Exterior Finish

To make sure that your home’s completely ready for winter, examine your siding and exterior finish in addition to gutters, roofing systems, and the chimney. This gives you an opportunity to see whether or not your siding is in good condition to withstand winter temperatures, storms, and the necessary insulation requirements to keep you comfortable. If there are signs of damage, try to get them fixed as soon as possible to help improve your home’s overall efficiency.

4. Secure Window and Doors

As an added measure, go around and check all of the windows and doors on your home that lead outside. Check for drafts and signs of damage and make sure that there are no gaps that could let air, snow, or even winter pests inside. If your windows are old, consider replacing them to help keep your home’s energy costs low. If you notice any drafts and it’s already too cold to undergo new window treatments, consider sealing them up for the season and replacing them when spring comes. Your door should also be draft-free to help improve insulation and security. Again, if you are feeling drafts but don’t have time to replace the door, utilize products that help to block drafts like a door sweep or DIY weatherstripping.

5. Clean Dryer Vents

Make sure that you check your dryer vents regularly, especially during the winter. Start with the lint filter and make it a habit to clean every time you use your dryer. Next, clean out any connecting hoses. The dryer hose accumulates lint and debris over the year and making sure that it’s clean will improve your home’s ventilation and reduce your risk of fire. You can use a vacuum to make this easier and get all of the fibers that are inside. If you’re not sure how to clean the vents of your home appliances, refer to the manufacturer’s instructions.

6. Tune Your Home’s Systems

This includes your heating system, your carbon monoxide detectors, smoke detectors, HVAC, sump pump, and more. You want to make sure that everything is in good condition for the harsh months so that you avoid potentially dangerous, harmful, or uncomfortable situations. Schedule a tune up for your heating system so a technician can make sure that the furnace and pump are working efficiently before winter. This will keep your home comfortable and reduce the risk of frozen pipes. The inspector will also make sure that there are no carbon monoxide leaks. Afterwards, check to confirm that all carbon monoxide detectors and smoke detectors work and have fresh batteries.

Sump pumps are another often overlooked system that you should check. Sump pumps help to reduce condensation, floods, and excess water from drains, which can increase during the winter months as snow falls and thaws. Testing your sump pump can reduce the risk of basement flooding, so if you find any clogs, have them addressed, cleaned, or repaired.

7. Prepare Your Lawn for Winter

Before the snow begins and the frost permeates the ground, try to schedule some proactive lawn care. If you want your lawn to blossom in the spring, you need to get it ready for the harsh months. Try to aerate the lawn, seed it, and apply winterized fertilizer before it gets too far into December. Taking the extra time to prepare your lawn for winter will make spring lawn care that much more enjoyable. If you have any low hanging trees that surround your home, consider trimming the branches so that they’re not touching your roof. This will help you mitigate unnecessary damage from harsh winter storms or heavy winds. While fall isn’t the preferred time of year to trim your trees, removing any potentially dangerous branches will help you avoid damage.

8. Prevent Ice Dams

In order to prevent ice dams, you’ll need to make sure that your roof’s ventilation system is working as it should. Ice dams occur when heat collects in the attic and cannot escape, thus causing the roof’s surface to warm and melt the undermost layer of snow. During cold nights, this layer of water freezes and becomes an ice dam. It continues in this freeze-thaw cycle all season, which can cause extensive damage to your roof. Make sure that your attic is properly ventilated by adding insulation and sealing off any air leaks that may contribute to further warming your roof.

9. Weatherproof Your Pipes

If your home has any exterior pipes, make sure that you properly weatherproof them before they freeze. This can help you avoid full-blown structural damage to your home’s exterior and interior pipes, which requires expensive and time-consuming repairs. Frozen pipes can cause cracks, thus allowing hundreds of gallons of water to be released daily. Water damage during the winter is not an easy thing to manage, so take the time and be proactive. You can do this yourself or have a professional come in to help. Just make sure that you check your pipes, faucets, and connectors for damage. Next, turn off water flow to the exterior pipes and fully drain them. For added protection, consider utilizing insulating tape.

10. Reverse Your Fans

A simple trick to help you stay warm during the winter months is to reverse your ceiling fan blades. Usually, ceiling fans are angled so that they move counterclockwise. This helps to push cool air down in the warm months. When you reverse the blades so that they rotate in a clockwise motion, you’ll be able to push warm air down instead and help improve the coziness of a room.

To make sure that your home is ready to tackle the winter months, contact the professionals at First Star Exteriors. We offer roofing and siding inspections to help you feel confident that your home is strong and ready to tackle the elements. If anything needs repairing or replacing, we provide competitive rates with full transparency. At First Star Exteriors, we pride ourselves on our hands-on, personable partnerships and always work to meet the goals of our clients. That’s why our team is dedicated to providing high quality work with 100% transparency. If you’re looking for an expert roofing company that you can trust, look no further than First Star Exteriors. With over 10 years of experience, we’re here to help you with all of your roofing and siding needs. We offer fast turnarounds for quotes and services to make sure your needs are addressed in a timely manner. Contact us today and receive a free quote within 48 hours!