Winterizing your home checklist

  • Crisis management
  • Planning ahead
  • Homeowners insurance
  • Renters insurance
Snowdrifts on a city street

Preparing houses for winter is a necessity for many homeowners. People living in warmer climates don’t have the same snow and ice risk as our friends to the north, but that’s not to say they should ignore this checklist. These are smart actions for any homeowner to take and they might reduce claim risk, even for Californians.

The best time to winterize your home is before the cold weather hits. If your house has already had a few frosty nights, it’s not too late. To paraphrase the famous Chinese proverb, the best time to winterize your home is when it’s warm. The second-best time is now.

When you’re ready to start winterizing your home, below are the steps that we recommend.

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Tips for preparing your house for the winter season

  • Check your home’s heating and air conditioning system – no one wants a surprise furnace problem on the coldest day of the year. Bringing in an HVAC specialist to do a checkup can help you get in front of problems.
  • Paint, caulk and seal exterior wood – getting the exterior in good shape minimizes the risk of water damage to the structure or interior.
  • Seal your masonry and hard surfaces – same as above. Get these surfaces in good shape so they can withstand the winter, especially during cold snaps. 
  • Check your drainage – admit it, you’ve poured some grease down your drain at least once. In the winter that can solidify and cause a backup. Even if you are careful about your drains, residue from everyday usage like soap scum can cause problems when it gets cold.
  • Clean your gutters – a clean gutter can move rain and melted snow off your roof and away from your house.
  • Get your roof and gutters inspected – prior to winter can be a great time for a professional inspection. Clean gutters help, but keeping them in working order and keeping the roof clear is key to a warm and dry winter.
  • Protect and insulate the pipes – this is especially important at second homes where you won’t be running your heat as much.
  • Clean your chimney and order firewood – winter is unpredictable. It’s better to be prepared if you need to use your fireplace for heat.
  • Test your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors – between fireplaces, heaters, Christmas trees and more, there are a lot of fire risks during the winter.
  • Shut down the pool and the sprinkler system and drain outside faucets – keep these things dry and free from water to avoid possible ice damage. Don’t forget to disconnect hoses, too.
  • Weatherproof doors and windows – fill in any gaps you see with weather stripping to keep the cold weather air outside where it belongs.
  • Reverse ceiling fans – fans aren’t just for summer! Set them to clockwise and keep them on low to move the warm air around. This can even lower heating bill costs.
  • Remove outdoor furniture – depending on the materials used, these items should be kept where they are dry and safe from wind.
  • Protect your plants – save time in the spring by protecting plants today. Properly cared for perennials will be ready to bloom and announce the end of winter.
  • Check your insurance coverage – In 2020, the last year this data is available, 65.4% of homeowners insurance losses were from: wind, hail, water damage and freezing – all of which are common in the winter. Check with the VIU by HUB Advisory Team to make sure that you have the coverage you need, before you need it.