6 Interior Winter Home Maintenance Tasks

A white fireplace with a fire in it.

Before the super cold weather sets in, it’s important to prepare the inside of your home for the oncoming months. Not only does the outside of your home have to be ready for extreme temperatures and weather, but so does the inside. It seems easy enough to ignore small repairs until there’s something broken or awry, but in the middle of winter, circumstances such as weather, travel, and the availability of supplies can make fixing things much more difficult. Set aside a bit of time this fall to prepare the interior of your home for the winter months before they arrive.

1. Secure all Doors and Windows

A window with snow outside it and a thermometer.

Inspect all doors and windows closely to make sure they’re in good enough condition to stay sealed and secure during the harsh winter months. Check all seals and weatherstripping around doors and windows to make sure they are keeping cold air out and warm air in. If any seals are breaking, peeling, or rotting, be sure to pull them off and replace them before colder weather comes. If you have winter screens or shutters, remove the summer ones and put the winter ones up. Any cracks in windows, doors, or frames should be repaired as soon as possible to prevent further damage.

2. Check the Fireplace

Inspect the fireplace and flue closely for any cracks or air leaks. Repairs to the fireplace should be completed before the cold sets in so you can use it at your leisure. Do a deep cleaning of the fireplace before using it, making sure there isn’t any soot or creosote buildup that could be a fire hazard. If the fireplace hasn’t been professionally cleaned lately, it may be a good idea to have someone come out and clean the chimney, as well.

3. Replace Filters

A white vent in a green wall.

If your furnace or heater has an air filter, be sure to clean or replace it before you start using the heat regularly. It’s always a good idea to have a spare filter around, as well—keeping the filter clean is a regular part of home fire prevention. To clean a filter if it’s reusable, simply remove it and vacuum it, and then put it back in place.

4. Adjust the Ceiling Fans

It’s also time to set the ceiling fans so they circulate in the opposite direction—clockwise. When fan blades go this direction, they push the warmer air down into the room, which is ideal for winter months. Otherwise, the cool air is being pushed down. Most fans have a small switch on them which determines the direction the fan blades go—just push it the opposite direction and check to make sure the blades are spinning clockwise.

5. Examine all Detectors

Someone changing the batteries in a smoke alarm.

Before you start using the heater and fireplace to warm things up on a regular basis, it’s important to check all smoke detectors and carbon monoxide (CO) detectors in the house. Buy new batteries and replace them all, and then test the detectors with the test button. This way, you can replace any faulty detectors with new ones. Recommendations suggest installing a smoke alarm in each bedroom, as well as at least one on every level of the house, including attics and basements. CO detectors are recommended in every home, even if you are running on all electric—just in case you ever have to use back-up power from a fuel source. It’s also suggested that one CO detector be installed on every level of your home if you have fuel-burning appliances.

6. Prepare Your Air Conditioner

Cover your central air conditioning unit to prevent drafty airflow from chilly outside air, which can get inside the house through the vents. Use a tarp or other weatherproof cover, which will also keep your AC in better shape for the spring. Insulated covers are also made for air conditioning units. If you have a window unit, remove it and store it until the spring.