For homeowners, the phrase “winter is coming” brings about a plethora of fears and anxieties. Winters treat our houses brutally, leaving expensive fixes to be made in their wake. However, beyond the snow and ice, procrastination and neglect are your biggest obstacles in the fight against winter’s toll.

Here are 8 ways to protect your home, and your wallet, against harsh weather in the winter season.

a house wrapped in a scarf atop fall leaves

Test the heat

Schedule a check-up of your home’s heating and ventilation systems before the first cold nights. If a fireplace is a source of heat, ensure that it’s clean and debris-free. The furnace and heat pump can generally be inspected and tuned up for around $100.

Seal the windows

Window leaks cause personal discomfort and expensive heating bills. Survey your house once before you turn the heat on, checking for gaps in seals and cracks in caulking. If seals need updating or replacing, consider simple DIY methods before inviting a contractor over.

Check the roof

This is often simple as examining with the naked eye. If the roof exhibits cracked or missing shingles, have them replaced before the first snowfall to prevent further structural damage from any leaks.

Prevent ice build-up

While icicles and ice build-ups around gutters and roof edges are often pretty to look at, they can cause damage to the structure of a home. Building ice is sometimes caused by air leaks from a house, and if your home usually hosts many icicles, it may be wise to bring a contractor in for an audit of your home’s weatherproofing.

Extend gutters

Extending the length of your gutters, thus expelling water further away from the base of your home, will pay off beyond the winter months. Much flooding is simply caused by roof water being drained near a home’s foundation. To avoid excessive water damage, consider elongating gutters so that they spill roof water more than 3 feet from the foundation.

Turn off and drain outdoor water sources

In-ground sprinkler systems and outdoor faucets can freeze in the winter months, breaking pipes and rendering components useless. Drain sprinkler system pipes and cut off water to outdoor faucets to avoid expensive plumbing issues.

Prepare outdoor appliances and furniture

Winter will harm more than just your home. Any metal patio furniture is best covered to avoid rust. Pools should be drained or covered depending on their heating capabilities. Gasoline should be drained from lawnmowers before they are stowed, and grills should be covered and separated from propane tanks if they will be left dormant for the season.

Change batteries on detectors

It’s always wise to update batteries in the Carbon Monoxide and smoke alarms. That said, the winter brings a heightened likelihood of fires and Carbon Monoxide poisoning due to the lack of ventilation and use of heating systems.

When it comes to winter’s wrath, “preparation” is the name of the game. Fix what you can afford to before the first heavy snow, and save yourself the cost and headache of larger problems come springtime.