While our Hampton Roads winters are fairly mild, it’s still important to take some steps to prevent any damage to your home plus keep your heating bills as efficient as possible!

Here’s 10 ways you can winterize your home before temperatures drop low!

1. Clean the Gutters:

If you haven’t already, clear out any leaves that have accumulated to allow proper draining and avoid any ice-dams! You can even install gutter-guards if it’s feasible. While you’re up there, check the roof too. Look for any broken or missing shingles, damaged flashing or deterioration. Clear off any debris up there as well.

It’s also a good time to check your attic for any potential leaks or water stains. Ensure there is proper ventilation to prevent mold and mildew and insulate if needed.

2. Protect your Pipes:

Any pipes located in an area that is susceptible to freezing should be insulated to prevent a frozen, and busted pipe! If temperatures stay super low, keeping a faucet or two slowly running will help prevent any freezing too.

3. Seal Up the Cracks:

Use weather-stripping to seal around openings on windows, doors, air conditioning units and even mail chutes. Use caulk to fill in any cracks, holes or openings were cold air might seep in!

4. Avoid a Slip:

Get any steps and handrails repaired now for a safe passage once they become icy! Plus, get your hands on a bag of road-salt to sprinkle down and prevent ice too.

5. Know your Pipes:

Especially if this is your first winter in a new home, you should know where different pipes are located and where/how to shut off the water. You can also install an emergency pressure release valve to prevent any increased pressure caused by frozen pipes to avoid bursting.

6. Set the Thermostat:

You should keep your thermostat set to a minimum of 65 degrees. This will keep your home properly heated throughout and be just a few degrees away from 68 degrees, the “ideal” setting for when you are home.

7. Check your Heating Units:

You shouldn’t have any build up in furnaces, boilers or chimney and your air filters should be clean and clear! Checking these areas annually will ensure they are running most efficiently!

8. Check your Detectors:

Smoke Detectors as well as Carbon Monoxide Detectors should be tested and updated at least once a year, and before winter is a great time to do so. Since the home stays closed up more in the winter, it is more likely for toxic gas to be trapped inside and only a Carbon Monoxide Detector can protect your family! Plus, residential fires are more common in the winter (candles, cooking, fireplaces ect!) so make sure those units are functioning properly too!

9. Yard Clean Up:

It’s time to bring in any plants that you don’t want damaged or frozen this winter! Ideally, you should bring in plants before temperatures drop below 45 degrees. Also, bring in any furniture that you don’t want damaged by ice, snow and winds as well.

If you’ve got large trees with branches hanging into the yard, over the house or near your driveway, it is a good idea to trim back the branches and especially remove any that are already dead. Ice, snow and wind can be a disaster for some tree branches and you wouldn’t want them falling onto your home or cars.

Clean up your yard from leaves and branches as well to keep your space in good shape and avoid any unsightly damages come spring time!

10. Pack up the Summer:

Drain your garden hoses, remove and store them away for the winter. Don’t forget to shut off the valve and insulate the faucet too to avoid any freezing damage!

Lastly, when it’s time to store your lawn mower, string trimmer and other summer equipment, make sure you service them properly, clean them up and store them properly where they’ll stay dry and warm.