The air is crisp and the holiday season is well underway.  The last thing you probably want to think about is home maintenance.  Unfortunately, in addition to gatherings with friends and family, winter in the Bay Area can also bring heavy rains and high winds, conditions that can turn a minor maintenance concern into a major issue.

To help you keep it simple, I’ve put together 12 winter home maintenance tips you can use as a checklist.  That way you can get back to the fun stuff ASAP.

Tip #1- Clean Rain Gutters of Leaves and Other Debris

The purpose of rain gutters is to carry water away from the roof and foundation of your home.  But clogged rain gutters can create standing water on the roof and near the foundation of your home, causing rot and uneven settling.  Clogged rain gutters can also get really heavy, putting stress on the wood fascia boards to which they’re attached and that could potentially lead to the gutter pulling away from the house completely.

Tip #2- Visibly Inspect Exterior of Home

You want to walk around your home and look for and fix any cracks in the foundation, siding or stucco and make sure all doors and windows are adequately caulked and sealed.  Cracks and inadequate sealing can lead to leaks, mold, and rot. They can also let in cold air, increasing your heating bill.

Tip #3- Check Your Roof for Damage

Look for broken or missing shingles, standing water, and deteriorated sealant.  All of these issues can cause expensive leaks so hire a licensed contractor to fix them.

Tip #4- Trim Trees and Shrubs


Dead limbs can turn into dangerous projectiles during high winds so you want to make sure to have a professional come trim limbs and branches to at least three feet from your home.  

Tip #5- Check Handrails, Walkways, and Exterior Lighting for Hazards

Uneven, unsteady or cracked walkways and stairs are always hazardous, but add wet weather or darkness and you’ve got yourself a dangerous situation.  Make sure your handrails are steady, your stairs are secure and your walkways don’t have loose bricks, stones or present any tripping hazards. You also want to make sure all exterior doors are illuminated and the lights are working properly.

Tip #6- Inspect Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Detectors

You want to make sure you have a smoke detector in each bedroom and common area and carbon monoxide detectors installed on each floor.  Check the batteries once a month to make sure they’re functioning.

Tip #7- Tune up Heating System

If not working properly, HVAC systems can be large emitters of carbon monoxide and generally unsafe.  So you should have your HVAC professionally inspected annually and change your furnace filters monthly.  Have this professional check for gaps in the ducting in your attic or sub-floor area as repairing these can help you save on energy costs through the winter.

Tip #8- Move Outdoor Furniture and Equipment into Garage or Basement

Constant rain can rust and rot your nice outdoor furniture and toys such as trampolines and ping pong tables, ruining them for summer fun.  So preserve them by moving them indoors.

Tip #9- Remove Door Screens

Now’s a perfect time to clean those screens that always get a little dusty or dirty throughout the year, and then put them in your garage or basement to keep them from rusting.

Tip #10- Check Your Sump Pump

If you have a sump pump to prevent flooding, you want to make sure it’s working properly.

Tip #11- Clean Fireplace and Chimney


Building a fire in the fireplace is one of life’s great pleasures in the winter time, but a dirty or clogged chimney and fireplace can create a lot of unwanted smoke.  Once you’re done cleaning, buy some firewood and prepare to get cozy.

Tip #12- Change Direction of Ceiling Fans

Changing the direction of your ceiling fans will push warm air down into the room, potentially saving you money on heating costs.

Hopefully, your home doesn’t need too much maintenance and you can get back to the holiday fun quickly.  If it does need a little TLC, make sure to call a professional who can get the job done properly.