By making preparations in the fall and winter, you can protect your home and property from common winter hazards. From frozen pipes and water leaks to HVAC damage and carbon monoxide leaks, learn what every homeowner should know about exterior home winterization.
Exterior Home Winterization Tasks

Inspect the Roof

The roof is an important part of your house that should not be neglected. You can personally check it, hire someone else, or just grab a pair of binoculars for a quick visual inspection. Look for loose shingles and damaged chimneys. Also check if there’s water pooling in specific spots or if there are leaves, bird nests, and other debris trapped in the gutters.

Check Your Chimney

When was the last time you had your chimney cleaned? Creosote buildup in your fireplace and chimney can lead to a dangerous fire.
It’s highly recommended to have your chimney professional inspected and cleaned every 50 fires. If you don’t remember the last time you had your chimney cleaned, contact a professional right away.
One quick way to determine if you have a dangerous amount of creosote buildup is by taking your fireplace poker and running it along the inside of your chimney liner. If there is more than 1/8 inch of creosote buildup, don’t use your fireplace until you schedule a professional chimney sweep.

Inspect Your Water Drainage 

Downspouts should be cleared of any type of obstruction. This way, rainwater will flow easily down and won’t accumulate inside the pipe or on your roof gutters.
To help direct water away from the home and avoid basement flooding, install downspout extenders.

Trim Trees and Landscaping 

Contact a tree expert to determine the health of your surrounding trees. When snow and ice builds up on weak limbs, they can fall and seriously damage your home and property, not to mention the risk to people.
If you notice tree limbs near your electrical wires, contact your utility company. They will trim trees away from power lines for you.
Trim your shrubs, flowers and bushes, too. Overgrown plants around the home make perfect hiding areas for home intruders. Additionally, you want trim plants around your outdoor HVAC unit to free up airflow and so technicians can easily access the unit.

Warning: NEVER attempt to work on trees near power lines. If trees are growing too close to company lines, contact your utility company. 

No Pool for Now 

The chilly breeze will no longer be used for a few months. Winterize the pool system by draining the water and covering the pool. Hire professionals who can service the pool and apply the anti-freeze for you.

Keep Your Garden Clean

Prepare your rake and lawnmower because you’ll be using them frequently this fall. Your lawnmower’s blades should be sharpened and its oil should be changed before dry leaves start filling your yard.
Also, bring your empty flowerpots inside. While you may think the clay, ceramic, and glass pots can withstand the cold, when moist soil freezes and expands, they can break your pretty pots. Make the effort to empty the pots, or take them in for winter.

Prepare Your Garage

Now is the perfect time to organize your garage so that you can keep it warm, dry and ready for storage during the fall and winter seasons! Purge items that you no longer need. Clean the place up. Organize your tools and if you have a generator there, make sure that it’s working. Don’t forget to buy extra gasoline too so you’ll be prepared during emergencies. Keep the gas in an ANSI-approved container and store in a cool, well-ventilated area, such as your garage.
If you do use a generator this winter, remember these safety tips:

Never run a generator indoors.
Don’t run portable generators in the rain, unless you have a specific cover and venting system.
Never refill gasoline while the generator is hot. Let it cool first.
Drain, clean, and winterize your gas-powered tools.

Consider covering your outdoor AC unit

Unless your HVAC manufacturer recommends it, don’t cover the entire outdoor unit for winter. This could cause moisture problems and a shelter for unwanted critters. Outdoor heat pumps and HVAC equipment are meant to withstand the cold weather. We do recommend, however, covering the top part of the unit with a piece of wood held down with some bricks/cinderblocks. This will prevent damage to the unit from falling icicles, tree limbs, and other winter debris.
Related Posts:

Winter Energy-Saving Tips
How to Prepare the Home for Holiday Guests


For HVAC, ventilation, and humidification solutions in the Birmingham area, contact OnTime Service at 205-942-1405.