Sweater weather is fast approaching in Michigan, and with the crisp fall air and the arrival of the first frost, it’s also time to think about getting your home ready for winter. While it might sound like a big chore, it will probably take you less than a weekend to ensure your home is ready for another snowy West Michigan winter. To make your job as easy as possible, we’ve put together a list of 8 steps you can take to get your home winter-ready. Knock these out, and you’ll be set for the rest of the year:

1. Clean Gutters

If you’ve heard it once, you’ve heard it a million times. Nobody likes cleaning the gutters, but it is a necessary evil. Gunky gutters lead to more disastrous issues like ice dams. Ice dams lead to leaks, and can cause serious water damage to your roof and your home’s exterior. It’s better to avoid more serious issues, and just clean the gutters before the snow falls. If you can’t bear to do it, go ahead and hire someone to handle it for you. As long as you’re avoiding ice dams, you’ll still be money ahead.

2. Trim Trees

One of the negative side effects of that beautiful, fluffy mid-winter snow is the strain it puts on the tree branches around your home. If you want to avoid tree damage this winter, it’s time to break out the chainsaw and go inspecting. Take down any branches that look dead, or are hanging over your yard, car, or roof.

3. Have your Furnace Inspected

Fall is a really great time to get your furnace inspected. It’s fairly routine to have a yearly check-up, and your local HVAC professional will make sure everything is running efficiently and properly before you need to crank up the heat. This will ensure your furnace doesn’t start any fires, or fill your house with carbon monoxide before you know it.

4. Check your Furnace Filter

If you haven’t been regularly replacing your furnace filter, this is the time to start. Furnace filters should be changed every 4 to 6 weeks in the winter, to optimize energy efficiency, and to ensure you’re providing your home with clean air. Dirty air filters reduce airflow, cause your furnace to work harder, and in extreme cases, can even cause fires. It’s an easy job that will take you less than 15 minutes, but save you a lot of money.

5. Weatherproof your Plumbing

For older homes without upgraded frost-free faucets, it may be a good idea to weatherproof your exterior plumbing before the weather gets too cold, as you want to avoid any pipes freezing or bursting. Sometime this fall, make sure you shut off the water supply to any outdoor spigots or sprinkler systems, and then drain them completely. If your system is particularly tricky, you may need to hire a contractor to blow out any excess moisture with an air compressor.

6. Seal Exterior Leaks

Fall is also a great time to check your home for any leaks. If you’ve noticed any missing shingles on your roof, gaps between your chimney and roof, or air leaks in your windows and doors, get them fixed now, rather than later. Weather stripping is relatively easy to install, and you can probably caulk any exterior cracks by yourself. A little repair right now will save you some serious money on those heating bills later this winter. If there are any repairs that you’re uncomfortable fixing on your own, be sure to call a trusted professional. They’ll likely take care of the issue for you in a timely manner.

7. Check Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Detectors

Winter is often the worst season for both house fires and carbon monoxide poisoning, because people tend to crank up the heat, sometimes on faulty furnaces. Though you’ve probably already had your furnace inspected, it’s a good idea to check and change the batteries on all of your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors before winter hits. This is one of the easiest and most cost-effective ways to ensure your family stays safe this winter.

8. Reverse Direction of Ceiling Fans

One little known fact about heating your home is that you can actually use your ceiling fans to help keep your house warm. By reversing your fans to rotate clockwise, they will push warm air down, forcing it to re-circulate throughout your home, keeping you nice and toasty! Just make sure you remember to switch them back in the summer.

Whether you have any additional questions about winterizing your home, or you’re considering a new home this winter, make sure to give Whitmore Homes a call! We’re a local, West Michigan custom home builder, and we’d love to help you build your dream home! Call our office at 616-446-3482, or contact us online today!