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With homeowners around the country preparing for freezing temperatures and snowfall, now is the perfect time to get your home ready for winter.

Between hosting holiday gatherings, shopping for the holidays, and decorating, finding the time to winterize your home can feel impossible. Before first-time homeowners start to panic, there are a few simple steps you can take to protect your home against the harsh winter weather. Here’s how to winterize your home to avoid costly damage in the coming months.

Clean out your gutters.

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While most people think gutter cleaning is reserved for spring, summer, and fall, it’s important to clean your gutters during the winter. Your home’s gutters play a critical role in preventing water from entering your home—and since most gutters are hit with heavy snowfall, it’s essential to clean your gutters to properly direct melting snow away from your home.

Cleaning out your gutters regularly during the winter can help prevent ice dams. Before temperatures start to drop, make sure to clean all debris out of gutters and position your gutter downspouts away from your home’s foundation.

Check your windows.

When it’s time to get your house ready for winter, don’t skip out on insulating your windows. Gaps around window frames and doors can lead to drafts, which can lead to expensive heat bills during the winter months. If your windows don’t have weatherstripping, self-sticking weatherstrips can help windows close more tightly and keep warm air in.

Additionally, to control window condensation, take steps to control the humidity in your home. During the winter, use a dehumidifier or exhaust fans to promote air circulation.

Protect your water lines.

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Whether your home’s plumbing system has been recently renovated or you’re living in an older home, it’s important to pay attention to water lines, especially the ones located in attic and crawl spaces. To protect pipes in the attic and crawl spaces against freezing winds and colder temperatures, wrap them in heat tape.

It’s also essential to ensure that your heat tape is plugged in and functional. Some crawl spaces and attics have vents that allow air circulation, so you’ll want to close these during colder months to protect your pipes from drafts.

Replace your AC system.

Replacing your air conditioning system is never really something to look forward to—unless you’ve had to do without AC or heating. To replace your AC system, you’ll need to make a financial investment and find a trustworthy HVAC company in your area. But when extreme weather hits, it’s critical to have a reliable air conditioning and heating system to keep your home comfortable all year round.

Even if your air conditioning system is currently functioning, investing in an AC replacement during the winter can give you time to choose the perfect system for your needs, shop around, and ensure you’ll be perfectly prepared for the cooler months ahead. Plus, many contractors offer incentives for replacing your AC in off-seasons, meaning you can take advantage of immediate perks like improved warranties and reduced labor costs.

Prep your faucets.

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When temperatures fall below freezing, keep your faucets running with a slow trickle of water. Keeping your faucets on will keep water moving in your pipes to prevent freezing. Meanwhile, open under-sink cabinet doors to promote warm air circulation around the pipes.

If you’re planning to travel this winter, you’ll need to take extra precautions. Turn your water off completely and consider having your plumbing system drained to prevent pipes from freezing. Additionally, ask a trusted friend, family member, or neighbor to check on your home regularly to look for any issues. Remember: if a problem is detected, time is of the essence—acting quickly can save you from costly home repairs down the road.

All in all, taking the time to properly prepare your home for the winter can help you enjoy stress-free fireplace-filed weekends with the family.

Jennifer Miles