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7 Winter Home Maintenance Tips

Add cover to outdoor ac unit
Add cover to outdoor ac unit
Add cover to outdoor ac unit

As fall makes way for winter, we can take the season off from lawn and garden maintenance but that doesn't mean there isn't work to do. In many parts of the country, wintertime puts homeowners on the defense against snow, ice, frozen pipes, heat loss, and more. Getting your home ready will take a bit of effort, but your preparation will pay off when you get to cozy up in a safe, energy efficient haven during the coldest days.

Follow these seven essential maintenance steps for a comfortable and joyous winter at home. 

1. Pack up the patio 

Freezing temperatures and winter precipitation can be tough on patio furniture and other items that you might keep outdoors the rest of the year. Most outdoor furniture and items should be stored in a shed, garage, or basement, especially if they're made of plastic, wood, or wicker. Cushions, patio umbrellas, coolers, plastic sandboxes, and similar items should also be stored out of the elements.

All-metal furniture is generally safe to leave outdoors year-round, but should be cleaned before the snowy season and kept free of fallen leaves. 

2. Stock up on winter supplies 

If you live above the snow line, there are quite a few items that can help you to get through the winter. Inspect your snow shovel, boots, and outerwear early so you have time to replace worn-out items. Buy plenty of sidewalk salt or other ice melt product to help clear your driveway and walking paths. And if you have a chimney or wood-burning stove, stock up on firewood and store it in a dry, accessible place.

In addition to supplies for working outside in the ice and snow, you should prepare some essentials to help you ride out a sudden power outage that could leave you with no heat. Make sure you have at least a three-day supply of non-perishable food and bottled water for every member of your household. Pack a first aid kit that includes important medications, and locate warm blankets and sleeping bags to help you stay comfortable.

If you don't have a generator or other system for generating emergency electricity, you might want to buy an inexpensive solar charger so that you can keep your mobile phone charged.

3. Protect pipes and plumbing fixtures 

Water expands as it freezes which can spell disaster for pipes or fixtures that are exposed to freezing temperatures. In a worst-case scenario, frozen pipes can burst and flood your home or basement. To protect garden hose bibs and exterior faucets, close their shut-off valves where applicable (these may be in the basement) and open the faucets to let any remaining water drain.

Hoses, sprinklers, and other attachments should be drained and stored. Hose bibs and faucets can then be wrapped in rags or insulating material and covered with plastic bags to provide more protection.

Your home's heat will usually protect the plumbing inside your home, but if you have pipes that go through crawl spaces or other areas that get very cold, you can cover them with pipe insulation.

If your heat goes out and endangers your plumbing, you can temporarily prevent freezing by leaving your faucets and fixtures running with a thin stream of water. For longer power outages, you may need to shut off your home's main water valve and drain the remaining water while you wait for power to be restored.

4. Search for hidden drafts 

Autumn is a great time to carefully inspect your home for air leaks and drafts because it gives you time to make repairs before frigid temperatures arrive. If you miss any drafts during your fall inspection, you're likely to discover the rest in winter when you notice that certain rooms are colder than others.

Take advantage of these cold days to pinpoint the drafts you couldn't find in the fall, and seal them up by caulking cracks, filling gaps with spray foam, or replacing worn weather stripping.

5. Monitor your indoor humidity

Winter air is drier in most North American climates leading to drier indoor air. This can cause some irritating physical symptoms like dry skin, nasal passages, and throats. But if you overcorrect your indoor humidity by using humidifiers or other sources of moisture, it can lead to frost or ice forming on your windows and exterior walls thanks to condensation. This problem can cause wood, drywall, and other materials to rot which may lead to the development of harmful mold.

You can buy an inexpensive digital hygrometer to monitor the relative humidity inside your home. A relative humidity between 40% and 60% is ideal most of the time, but the colder it is outside, the lower the relative humidity should be inside to avoid moisture-related problems. If you have inefficient windows or insufficient insulation, these problems will be worse. You might want to consider upgrading these elements so you can enjoy higher humidity indoors without harming your home.

6. Manage snow and ice 

After any significant snowfall you should use a shovel or snow blower to clear walking paths and driveways. Shoveling is physically demanding work, so make sure you're well hydrated and take plenty of breaks. If you uncover ice beneath the snow, use sidewalk salt or another ice melt product to dissolve it.

If you didn't clean your gutters in the fall, there's an increased risk for icicles and ice dams to form in your gutters and along your roofline. Large ice dams can damage your gutters and roof and icicles can be dangerous when they break and fall. It's possible to knock down icicles from a safe distance using a broom handle. Be aware this can be a dangerous task, so if you're not comfortable consider hiring a professional.

7. Remove snow from the roof 

Significant snow buildup on your roof can be damaging, especially if you have a flat or low-pitched roof, or if your roof is already in disrepair. The weight of the snow can cause leaks or even a collapse, and melting rooftop snow can refreeze into ice dams. If you have a single-story home, you may be able to safely remove snow using a telescoping roof rake. But for taller homes, high-pitched roofs or other tricky snow removal situations, you should call in the pros.

Take fall and winter prevention to the next level with one of our Home Protection Plans to cover the cost of maintenance to your heating, cooling, plumbing systems, and more. 

Browse our protection plans

Our plans give you lots of options, so you can get just what you need for your home without paying for coverage you don't need.

Terms and conditions contained in the protection plans may limit our contract obligations due to coverage caps, coverage exclusions, and our cash back offer. View plan details for more information.

*Repair claims are limited to $500 per service call and $2,000 per plan in the aggregate per plan term. Plans are provided by NRG Protects Inc. Independent contractors will be performing various services under the plans. In some instances we may make a cash payment in lieu of repairs or replacement in the amount of actual cost, which may be less than retail, to repair or replace any covered system, component, or appliance.

**If your authorized repair technician determines that the water heater is deemed irreparable, we will give you a credit of $500 towards a replacement water heater by your authorized repair technician.

Once repair plans commence, there is a 30-day waiting period before you may request services for a claim. Unless the plan provider elects not to renew the plan, upon expiration of the first year, the plan will automatically renew at the standard rate and terms unless you opt out of the auto-renewal option in writing by mail at P.O. Box 2309, Houston, TX 77252- 2309, by email at or by calling us at 1.855.241.9094. Sales tax will be added in select states.

This is a summary of what the provider will and will not cover under the plan, and is subject to the Terms and Conditions of the plan. The Terms and Conditions may limit the provider's contractual obligations due to coverage caps, coverage exclusions and any cash-back option available under the plan. Please refer to the Sample Terms & Conditions for details.