Prepare Your Home for Winter + Printable Checklist

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As homeowners, we all have to do it. Cold temperatures are here to stay for a while (But don’t fret, we have an article about how to thrive in a Rochester winter coming soon!), and there are lots of tasks to remember with this season change upon us.

Having recently moved back to Rochester after a decade in the southern heat, I am still getting used to what all needs to be done to get our house and family ready for the winter weather. You may be in a similar boat, or perhaps you’re in your first home this year . . . or you may be a seasoned winter-dweller who would benefit from getting that mental to-do list out on paper. We’re here for you!

I’ve asked my ever-wise parents and some winter-seasoned friends to help me devise a list of home preparations for winter weather.

After reading through the reminders below, be sure to download the free printable to help jog your memory this season!

Considerations to Prepare for Winter

1. Snow Gear

It’s time to get out the winter coats, snow pants, and all the accessories! Before we need it all for snow, check on the condition of all winter gear after last year’s escapades and storage. Ensure everything fits the kids NOW, rather than scrambling later when we really need something that fits.

If the kids go to school, double-check that all their accessories and winter clothing have their names on the inside!

Consider giving snow gloves, snow pants, coats, and boots a layer of waterproofing spray at the beginning of the season. It’s recommended to do a fresh layer of waterproofing after every wash as well.

2. Indoor Home Maintenance

To help prevent drafts of cold air from entering your home, and thus keep the heating bill down, check the seals around windows and doors. Seal any gaps around windows with a simple bead of caulk, and add weather stripping to doors (or for a quick fix, get a door snake/rolled towel to lay across the bottom when the door’s closed) if needed.

If you have a chimney, get it inspected and cleaned for the cold season ahead — and for the sake of fire safety!

Give attention to your furnace and its filter too. You’ll want to make sure it’s clear of cobwebs, dust, etc., and has a fresh filter before turning on the heat.

3. Outdoor Home Maintenance

Cleaning out gutters on the house ahead of snow will prevent damage as ice builds up throughout the winter season!

If this is your first winter in your current home, be sure any outdoor, exposed pipes and pipes in any crawl spaces are properly insulated.

Shut off the water to outdoor faucets completely (from the basement) and bring in hoses for the winter. Without all this prep, ice can cause serious damage by swelling and causing cracks.

You may also consider covering the air conditioner outside to keep the leaves, debris, and ice build-up OUT.

4. Car Maintenance

Some Rochesterians prefer getting car maintenance done now, at the cusp of snowy season. If you don’t have all-weather tires on your vehicles (or even if you do), it’s also a good idea to switch in some snow tires for a safer season in the car!

Keep an eye on your tire pressure, as it fluctuates from season to season. Revisit the recommended tire pressure level for your vehicle via the sticker placed on the driver’s side door jamb.

Be sure your windshield wipers are in good shape, and the windshield washer fluid level is full and ready for those snowy and slushy drives! Some Rochesterians prefer to start pulling their wipers up away from the windshield when the vehicle is parked for a while and snow is imminent. My dad has pointed out the pros and cons of this practice, which you can read about here and make your own decision on.

Lastly, make sure you have a snow brush/ice scraper at the ready for your vehicle as well!

5. Yard Maintenance

Allowing some leaves to stay in your yard during the fall months can be beneficial, especially if you mulch them up. But too much matted down into the yard can cause trouble for your grass in the spring — so keep an eye on your yard this month and the next as the trees let go of their dead weight!

I have never had a green thumb, but I’m finding as my kids are getting a little older, I have more capacity to think about the plants in our life a little bit more. While not necessary, get to know the plants in your yard and what they need to survive through the winter! We live and we learn:

  • Some plant lovers prefer to take this time to clean up plants in the yard before the snow season. Pulling out dead annual plants can provide a fresh start when you go to plant in the spring.
  • Some bushes and perennial plants benefit from being cut back now, in order to blossom more beautifully in the spring and summer.
  • Don’t forget about any fair-weather potted plants you may have outside. They will thank you if you remember to bring them inside to stay nice and warm with your family.
  • Some bulbs benefit from being dug up now, and saved in a brown bag to replant in the spring. While many other types of bulbs like to be planted at this time of year.

Additionally, remember to make space in the garage/shed and bring in any furniture, yard decor, or kid toys that could be ruined by being out in the snow (think rust).

6. Prepare the Garage

Speaking of the garage (or shed), now is a good time to look over what’s stored in there!

When you’re done mowing the lawn for the season, don’t forget to winterize it — preparing it for the cold temperatures and sitting unused for a few months.

Move summertime gear towards the back: lawn mower, bicycles, summer seating, kiddie pool, etc. And bring forth the . . .

7. Snow Busters

Shovels, salt, and snow blower, oh my! Get what you’ll need for the snow blower now to ensure it’s in working order before you really need it. A bucket of sidewalk salt (there are even pet-friendly and cement-friendly versions) is great to have on hand for sprinkling along your front steps, walkway, and sidewalk when ice is forming. Have all of this, including the shovels, in the front of your garage or storage shed. You’ll thank yourself later.

Make sure those sleds and any snow toys are easily accessible too. Who wants to be climbing over last season’s stuff to find all the fun snow things when you’re layered up like the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man?

Bonus: Holiday Lights

My mama once said, “Take advantage of a mild November day to hang up Christmas lights on the outside of your house.” No matter where you fall on the Christmas/holiday decorating timeline, getting those lights on the house now doesn’t mean you have to light them now! I told you she’s wise, didn’t I?

Click here to download your free printable

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Amanda G.
Amanda grew up on the west side of Rochester before getting married and moving to Charleston, SC. She and her husband adopted their two boys as toddlers from South Korea in 2017 and 2019. She loves adventuring, watching her boys try new things, and helping out at their schools. Amanda has a social work degree and a background in non-profit work. She is currently Managing Editor for Charleston Moms after being a contributing writer for several years. After a decade in the southern heat, her little family decided they would thrive more in the Rochester area, and found their home on the east side in 2022. Amanda is thrilled to now be contributing locally for Rochester Mom Collective! She is a quirky, creative soul who enjoys expressing through writing, art/decor, dance, drums, and singing (commonly incorrect lyrics).