Winter is coming. Whether you live on the coast or in an area that gets blanketed in white for months of the year, it’s time to prep. Sure, your winter home maintenance checklist will look a little different depending on whether you’re braving temperatures of 10 below or just unpacking a few light sweaters. But even if you’re not facing ice and snow, the changing seasons are a great reminder to stay on top of the to-dos for your home or apartment.

We’ve put together this winter home maintenance checklist to help you get ready before temperatures drop. Tackle these eight tasks to be prepped for the changing weather.

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winter home maintenance - heating system

Take the time to get your home’s heating system into top shape before you rely on it all winter. Image: Mihaly Slocombe

1. Check the heating system

How does your home stay warm? Whether you have a high-tech HVAC system or an old-school furnace, give it some love. Change out the air filter and test the igniter switch. If it’s been a while since a professional has serviced your system, there’s no time like the present.

If you have a fireplace that you use during the winter – whether for heat or just for the aesthetic – this is the time to have it cleaned. This is a must; the buildup in your fireplace is flammable and can pose a serious hazard.

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winter home maintenance - pipes

Whether your pipes are exposed or not, make sure they won’t freeze this winter. Image: Urban Rebuilders

2. Prep pipes

A frozen pipe is a unique brand of terrible. Insulate your pipes to protect yourself against a water shortage or, worse yet, a major flood. Not only will this help keep them from freezing, it makes your home’s hot water system more efficient, saving you serious bucks throughout the year.

While you’re at it, disconnect hoses from their spigots so they don’t freeze in place. And, if you’re leaving town this winter, keep your thermostat at 55 degrees F or above. That way, the radiant heat from your house can keep water moving through your pipes.

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winter home maintenance- windows

Check the seals around windows and doors to ensure that cold air stays out and warm air stays in. Image: Moloney Architects

3. Seal windows and doors

The hotter weather of the summer months can cause the seals around your windows to crack. You might not notice – or even mind – when the weather outside is temperate, but leaks and cracks can leave you facing a chilly home and higher heating bill during winter. As part of your winter home maintenance, feel around your home for any drafts. Recaulk or install weather stripping as needed to keep your home toasty during the months ahead.

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winter home maintenance - fans

Keep your bedroom comfortable throughout the winter by flipping a switch on your fan. Image: Actual Size Projects

4. Switch ceiling fans

The simple flip of a switch can make your home more comfortable this winter. If you have ceiling fans, change their direction to clockwise. This pushes the warmer air that gathers near your ceiling down into the room. This simple swap is key in rooms where you run your fans even in the winter, e.g., if you use your fan for white noise to help you sleep.

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winter home maintenance - carbon monoxide

You depend on your smoke alarm and carbon monoxide detectors to protect your family. Make sure they’re up to the task. Image: StudioChevojon

5. Check batteries

During the cooler months, you’ll likely be running your heater and keeping your windows closed. This keeps your home warmer, but it also poses a danger. Any carbon monoxide leak can quickly become fatal. Before winter sets in, change out the batteries in your carbon monoxide and smoke detectors. It’s easy to get into the habit of making sure these key devices have fresh batteries by doing it every time you change the clocks for daylight saving time. (We “fall back” on Nov. 4 this year.)

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winter home maintenance - trim trees

Keep tree limbs clear of windows so storms and heavy snow don’t knock any limbs into your home. Image: Splyce Design

6. Trim trees

Winter can mean storms. Whether it brings wind, rain or snow, you don’t want to be contending with any falling tree limbs. This fall, trim the trees around your house. Make sure no limbs are overhanging your roof or skimming your windows. While you’re at it, scan your property for any limbs that could pose a hazard if they become overladen with the weight of snow.

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winter home maintenance - gutters

Unclogged gutters are crucial during the winter months. Image: Zone 4 Architects

7. Clear gutters

Cleaning your gutters is never fun, but it’s also never more important than before the winter months. On a stable ladder, clear out twigs, leaves and other debris. Then flush the gutter with a hose and watch as the water comes out of the downspout. A slow drain could be indicative of a clog. If you notice anything off, detach your downspout to clear it before winter comes.

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winter home maintenance - patio

Don’t leave your patio furniture exposed to the elements during the colder weather ahead. Image: Entrada

8. Protect patio furniture

You’ll likely be using your patio less during the chilly season ahead, so why leave all of your patio furniture out and exposed to the elements? No matter your climate, your winter home maintenance checklist should include putting some protections in place for your outdoor spaces. Cover patio furniture or move it inside. Alternately, if you have removable cushions, you can leave the sturdier bases of furniture outside but move the cushions that would be more affected by the elements into storage.

Get started with winter home maintenance

No matter your climate, getting your home or apartment ready for the colder months can help you shrink your energy bill, be more comfortable indoors and rest easy knowing your space is in top shape. What to-dos do you add to your list to get ready for winter? Let us know in the comments!