Your Last-Minute Checklist for Ensuring your Home has Been Fully Winterized

Jan 5, 2024

While we’re already in January – the heart of our seasonal cold, snow, and ice – it’s not too late to make sure your home has been fully winterized. It’s your key to improving your comfort while protecting your home against the harsher conditions. Winterizing your home can also help save you money. To help get you started, here’s a short checklist of winter season home maintenance tasks:

Chimney & Fireplace: Creosote, which can form in a chimney flue when unseasoned firewood is burned, and debris can pose health and fire hazards as well as affect the overall performance of your fireplace. Your first step is to clean out any debris from your fireplace, but you should also have your chimney cleaned and inspected by a professional at least once a year to ensure that it is safe to use.

Exterior Vents: Like your fireplace chimney, confirm that your vents to your bathroom exhaust, dryer, HVAC system (especially for the furnace), and water heater are clear of any debris and are properly working. At a minimum, these vents should be inspected annually. but if there is heavy dryer and HVAC use, you should inspect and clean them at least every six months, because build up in these vents can cause fires.

Generator: Inspect your generator, if you have one, to make sure it’s in good working order and that you have enough fuel to last through a power outage. And if it uses an electric start, check that the battery is fully charged as well. Of course, check your generator’s manual to confirm its specific maintenance guidelines.

Gutters & Downspouts: Clear out any leaves, sticks, and/or other debris to prevent water from backing up and causing damage. If you have de-icing cables, you should also check for any signs of damage to them and if they’re functioning properly.

Heating System: To help protect against encountering costly emergency repairs and to ensure reliable warmth during the colder months, check to see that there are no malfunctioning parts in your furnace or boiler. You also want to check that there are no gas carbon monoxide leaks. Clean or if needed, replace the air filter. For extra peace of mind, you may even consider hiring a professional to inspect and service your system.

Insulation: To help keep your home warm while reducing energy costs, make sure your attic and walls are properly insulated. Check for signs of damage to your insulation – water stains, mold, rodent or other pest infestation, and/or drafts are indicators – or uneven coverage. Also seal up any cracks or gaps enabling air leaks in the attic.

Pipes: To help prevent them from freezing and bursting, insulate your pipes that are exposed to the cold.  Like your gutters and downspouts, you may also consider using de-icing cables to keep them from freezing.

Roof: Inspect your roof for any damage, such as missing or loose shingles, and repair as needed. Detecting and addressing roofing issues early can help prevent major problems and, over time, help save you money. In addition to a yearly inspection, you might also want to inspect it after a severe weather event, such as a storm or heavy snowfall, to catch and repair any damage that might have occurred. Finally, be sure to regularly clean away any debris, especially leaves and branches as well as any items that may have blown onto the roof during a heavy storm.

Smoke & Carbon Monoxide Detectors: Test the smoke and carbon monoxide detectors in your home to make sure that they are working properly and, if needed, replace the batteries. If they are older, you might want to update them to comply with the state law that went into effect on January 1st, 2023 requiring smoke detectors installed in a single or multi-family home have a 10-year sealed battery.

Trees & Bushes: Remove any dead or overhanging branches that could pose a danger during a winter storm and/or are rubbing against the roof, which can cause damage to it.

Windows & Doors: Inspect windows and doors for any cracks or gaps that could allow cold air to seep in. Seal these areas with weatherstripping or caulking. And check that your storm windows are closed. To help cut heating costs while ensuring a more consistent indoor temperature, you may also want to use a plastic sheet to create an additional layer of insulation for your windows.

By following this handy checklist, you can help ensure that your home is ready for winter and avoid any potential issues that could arise.


Then you need to plan for one more thing: Snow removal: Make sure you have a shovel or snow blower on hand and stock up on ice melt or sand. There are many brands of that are both pet and eco-friendly. You might even consider hiring a professional snow removal service.

To help you find the professionals you need for the specific winterization and repair activities, you could refer to my Jackie’s List of Preferred Vendors.

Of course, should you need additional referrals, please feel free to contact us and we can point you in the right direction. After all, we at Jackie Mack & More are your Evanston Experts. And, we’re here to help.







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