Picture this: windows glowing with warm light, smoke floating out of the chimney, and big, sparkly flakes falling–all set on the backdrop of a winter night blanketed with fresh snow. But inside this storybook home is a different story. Teeth chatter and bones are chilled. What a nightmare!

Before the chill of winter really sets in, it’s especially important for Wisconsin homeowners to get ready and set for the state’s harshest season. The annual onset of cold weather, ice, and snow doesn’t need to come with stress over your home’s ability to withstand the weather. In this winter home maintenance checklist, we’ll outline 10 essential maintenance tips for Wisconsin homeowners. That way, you can ensure you’re prepared before winter comes (and you won’t have to worry about quite as much time in the wet and cold).

JB Custom’s Winter Home Maintenance Checklist

Prioritize your heating system

What’s the worst that could happen when temperatures are below zero? A failed heating system that could take weeks to repair or replace. We recommend taking your heating system on a test run at least a month before you’ll need it on a daily basis. 

A few things to look out for:

  • Clean vents
  • Clean or replace filters
  • Check the fuel supply if you rely on a furnace that runs on propane or a wood stove
  • Consider scheduling a professional inspection for extra peace of mind.

Seal out the cold

Drafts and leaks can turn even the coziest home into an icebox. Take the time to inspect your windows and doors for any gaps or drafts before cold air starts creeping in.

Found some leaks? Here are a few things to try: 

  • Use weatherstripping or caulk to seal openings
  • Take a look at the condition of the insulation surrounding windows and doors
  • If the chills seem like too much for you to handle yourself, consider investing in new, energy-efficient windows for your home.

Prep your gutters and roof

Ice damming and water damage can wreak havoc on your home leading to much larger repairs and replacement costs later on. Start with cleaning gutters now to clear leaves and other debris as a first step towards preventing water and ice build-up. Double-check your downspouts as well to make sure you’re directing any water away from your house to prevent basement flooding.

While you’ve got your ladder out take a look at your roof, checking for damaged or missing shingles and flashing. Your roof is your first defense against snow, sleet, and freezing rain, so it’s essential to keep it in tip-top shape.

Protect your pipes from the cold!

Frozen, burst pipes can cause widespread damage not only to your plumbing but the structure of your home. Insulate any exposed pipes with foam and electrical tape, specifically those in cooler areas like basements or crawl spaces. 

Be sure to drain exterior faucets and empty and store garden hoses for the season. Identify where your water shut-off valves are located so that when the time comes to turn off outdoor water access, it’s an easy preventative step to keep your home safe and dry.

Winterize summer toys and equipment

In a state with four distinct seasons, there are some larger pieces of equipment for home maintenance or leisure activities that are only used in warmer months. These include things like boats, lawn mowers, or motorcycles.

Don’t forget about outdoor furniture! The best way to ensure that your outdoor furniture lasts a long time is to store it inside your home, garage, or other shelter. If you’re fresh out of storage space, clean and cover your furniture as effectively as possible.

Prep winter outdoor equipment

It’s no secret that Wisconsin winters require some manual labor from homeowners. Before the first snowfall, inspect your snowblowers, shovels or ice augers. If you need to repair or replace, you’ll be all set for the season.

Protect your air conditioner while it’s not in use

  • Clear debris from on top of or around your air conditioner.
  • Clean your unit with soap and water. Allow to dry.
  • Once your air conditioner is clean, cover it as tightly as possible.
  • If you have a window unit, be sure to remove it and store it in a dry place for the winter.

Check your fireplace and chimney

Chimneys are a commonly overlooked area when homeowners check for cold air leaks. Make sure your chimney damper can be fully closed and opened.

Consider having your fireplace and chimney professionally inspected and cleaned before they’re heavily used during the colder months.

Adjust ceiling fans and check emergency alert devices

The direction of your ceiling fan makes a big difference in room temperature from season to season. Make sure your fans are turning clockwise to circulate warm air in the winter. This can not only help you regulate temps inside your home but result in energy savings over the course of the season. 

Now is also a great time to check the batteries in your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors.

Protect your entryway flooring

Between snow, ice, salt, and sand, the evidence of your winter outdoor adventures can do extensive damage to the floors of your home. Protect floors with mats or rugs, boot scrapers or brushes, and a waterproof tray for drying boots and shoes.

Bonus: Create a winter emergency survival kit

When you spend time preparing your home for harsh weather, you’re much less likely to have a winter emergency, but we all know that accidents happen. In the case of unforeseen emergencies, you want to be prepared for the cold. Build an in-case-of-emergency survival kit with the following:

  • Blankets, hats and gloves
  • Ice scraper
  • Collapsible shovel
  • Salt or sand
  • Flashlight
  • Tow rope
  • Battery cables

Winter in Wisconsin demands a proactive approach to home maintenance. By adhering to our Winter home maintenance checklist, tailored specifically to the unique challenges of the region, you can rest assured that your home will remain a haven of comfortable coziness throughout the coldest months of the year. A well-prepared home allows you to enjoy the beauty of winter without worrying about its potential pitfalls. Stay warm, stay safe, and embrace the joys of the season in your Wisconsin home.

Still haven’t fixed some of last year’s damage? Take a look at JB Custom’s services to see how we can help get you ready for this winter.