Are you winter ready? Is your home? This season can be brutal to your house if you are not prepared. There are a few home maintenance tips you can follow that will get you back, bundled up next to the fire in no time.

speaking of that fire…

Inspect your Fireplace

Make sure that your fireplace is inspected annually by a professional chimney sweep. The chimney sweep who inspects your fireplace should be certified by the Chimney Safety Institute of America and as a fire inspector.

Have your fireplace and chimney cleaned when there is a 1/4″ or more build-up of creosote.
Trim any branches near the chimney of your fireplace.

Chimney sweep on ladder inspecting fireplace flue.
Chimney sweep inspecting fireplace flue.

Make sure there is a screen barrier around the top of the chimney on your fireplace. This prevents birds and other wildlife from nesting in your chimney.

Use a fire screen in front of the fireplace to contain embers and logs inside your fireplace and keep young children away.

Never overload your fireplace to prevent logs from rolling out of your fireplace and starting a fire in your home.

Watch this video to find out more.

Reduce Heat Loss

Up to 40% of the heat loss or gain in a home is due to leaks in the thermal envelope surrounding the living space.

To save energy, make sure the attic has plenty of insulation. Properly insulated homes not only keep your family comfortable but also help with your home’s energy efficiency. Adding insulation, especially in your attic, can save up to $200 per year on your home’s annual energy bills!

Roxul Stone Wool Insulation Now Rockwool
Danny Lipford with new Rockwool Insulation.

filling crack in brick with insulation

Rockwool stone wool insulation is a great choice because it is fire-resistant and non-combustible, giving your family more time to get to safety if your home catches fire.

And, fill any cracks or gaps around windows, doors, plumbing pipes, and HVAC lines. Installing foam gaskets behind switch and outlet covers is another good way to reduce air infiltration in your home.

Protect your Pipes

Frozen pipes can lead to burst pipes, an expensive problem. It’s best to take steps to prevent pipes from freezing.

Cold temperatures can cause pipes to freeze, leading to a bigger, costlier problem down the line.

Here’s a checklist you should become familiar with when the temperature drops.

Disconnect and drain garden hoses.

Turn off water to outside faucets, if available, and open valves on faucets to allow them to drain.

Turn off the sprinkler system and blow compressed air through the lines to drain them.

Cover outside faucets with insulating foam covers.

Insulate exposed pipes (both hot and cold) under the house with foam pipe insulation.

Drip hot and cold faucets in kitchen and bath. Drip single control faucets with lever set in the middle.

Don’t forget to check on pipes to your washing machine in the laundry room.

Locate water main cut-off valve, and have a cut-off key handy.

Use a hair dryer, heat lamp, electric heat tape, or a portable space heater to thaw frozen pipes that have not burst.

After the weather has warmed above freezing and any frozen pipes have thawed, turn off dripping faucets and monitor your water meter to check for unseen leaks.

Declutter the Gutter

Gutters have an important function: they direct water from your roof and away from your home. But they often fail because of leaf buildup.

Clogged overflowing gutters can lead to rotten fascia boards and even cause damage to the foundation. Clean them during dry weather starting at the downspout and working back. Wear gloves and use a gardening trowel or a scoop made from a plastic container.

To keep yourself from getting on a ladder more frequently than you should, consider a leaf guard like GutterBrush.

GutterBrush installs easily — just grab a leaf guard and slide it into position.

The 3-foot gutter inserts — which look like giant pipe cleaners — offer an easy, low-cost and low-maintenance way to protect your gutters.

It’s as easy as 1-2-3:

1. Clean and measure your home’s gutters
2. Slide GutterBrush Leaf Guard into the gutters
3. Enjoy year-round protection

Also, check all the fastenings and make sure they are all on tight. Snow and ice could weigh down gutters that are not secure.


More information on cleaning and repairing gutters can be found in our article The Trouble with Gutters and video How to Clean Gutters.

while you are on a ladder checking on the gutters, mind as well check on the roof.

Preventing Ice Dams

Icicles many look pretty but an ice dam cause damage your roof and cause leaks.

As the snow continues to melt and water freezes at the eave, ice eventually builds up along the roof forming a thick ridge or dam. Then, as water runs down the roof, it’s blocked by the ice dam, and forced up under the shingles. I know this seems to defy all laws of physics, but water will actually flow up the roof, working its way under the shingles. And that’s where the trouble really begins since roofs are designed to shed water running down the shingles, not up.

Clear out any snow and ice you see hanging from your roof and gutters.
You can try using a snow rake to remove as much snow as possible from the roof. That’ll at least remove the source of water. Just be sure to work safely and preferably on the ground.

A culmination of the steps we’ve already discussed will prevent ice dams from forming in the first place.

Seal Air Leaks: Use caulk, insulation, and weatherstripping to seal all upstairs ceilings to stop heat from flowing into the attic.

Add Insulation: Measure the depth of the insulation on the attic floor, and add more, if necessary. Call the local building inspector or licensed contractor to find out how much insulation is required in your area.

Attic Ventilation: Check to be sure that the attic ventilation system is operating properly. Most homes have soffit vents and ridge or gable-end vents, which allow air to flow into the attic along the eaves and out the attic at the ridgeline or gable walls. Be certain the attic-floor insulation isn’t blocking the soffit vents. And never staple plastic or anything else over attic vents. Remember, you want attic temperature to be as close as possible to the outside air temperature.

Editorial Contributors
Danny Lipford

Danny Lipford


Danny Lipford is a home improvement expert and television personality who started his remodeling business, Lipford Construction, at the age of 21 in Mobile, Alabama. He gained national recognition as the host of the nationally syndicated television show, Today's Homeowner with Danny Lipford, which started as a small cable show in Mobile. Danny's expertise in home improvement has also led him to be a contributor to popular magazines and websites and the go-to source for advice on everything related to the home. He has made over 200 national television appearances and served as the home improvement expert for CBS's The Early Show and The Weather Channel for over a decade. Danny is also the founder of 3 Echoes Content Studio,, and Checking In With Chelsea, a décor and lifestyle blog.

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