Prevent damage to your home, save money, and stay warm this winter with these simple steps.

With another arctic blast approaching, there are some practical things you can do around the house to make sure you and your family stay safe and warm. These twelve steps can help ensure your house (and you) will be prepared for below freezing temperatures and whatever else winter may bring.

Look for draft locations.

Check the exterior of your home for possible points of entry for cold air.

  • Close up small holes where cable wires or phone lines enter your home using a tube of foam insulation.
  • Use weather stripping to remedy any cracks around your doors.


You can help prevent your pipes from freezing by making sure your home has adequate insulation. Make sure you insulate:

  • Exterior walls
  • Crawl space or basement
  • Attic
  • The pipes themselves, if they are exposed (i.e. under or outside the house)

Shut off water to outside spigots.

Water expands as it freezes, and freezing water in your pipes can cause them to crack and burst.

  • Disconnect and drain garden hoses.
  • Cover outside fixtures.
  • Turn off water to outside faucets.
  • Turn off your sprinkler system and blow air through the lines.

Set your faucets to drip.

You will want to set your faucets to a slow drip when below freezing temperatures are expected.

  • Make sure both the hot and cold lines are opened slightly.
  • Leave cabinet doors open under sinks, so your home’s heating system can help warm pipes.

Know where your main water shut off valve is located.

And make sure it is accessible! (Note: At our home in Texas, the shut off valve is located on the exterior wall below an outside faucet by the garage.)

  • If your shut off valve is inside or in the basement, make sure to clear a path so it can be easily reached in case of a plumbing emergency.
  • Make sure your shut off valve is in good working order. You should be able to crank it all the way to the right to shut off water to the house. If it only partially closes or is rusted open, you need to replace the valve immediately.

Know how to shut off water at the meter.

  • Check with your city first to see if they have any regulations against shutting off the water yourself. If so, make sure to keep the water department’s emergency number handy.
  • If your city does not have such regulations, keep a crescent wrench on hand to shut off water at the meter if your shut off valve ever fails.

Inspect your fireplace and chimney.

Every type of fireplace, whether wood-burning, electric, or gas, can pose a potential danger to everyone in your home. Before you light that fire, please review these important safety and maintenance tips.

Keep your garage door closed.

By minimizing the time your garage door is open, you can help keep cold air out of your house and protect plumbing that you may have in the garage.

Keep attic soffits and vents clear.

You can help prevent ice dams on your roof by ensuring proper attic ventilation. Inspect your attic to make sure there is nothing blocking your soffits or attic vents.

Keep your gutters free of debris.

When ice or snow blanketing your roof begins to melt, leaves and other debris are more likely to gather in gutters, causing clogs and other problems.

Do your homework on how to deal with potential problems. (Before they become problems!)

By the time a pipe bursts, you’ve missed your research window and will probably be in full-blown panic mode. Take time now to learn how to deal with winter weather disasters.

Stock up on cold weather essentials.

Although certain areas of the country are more prone to blizzards and winter storms than others, it is still a good idea to keep these essentials on hand. You never know when the smallest detail can truly make your day!

  • Working fire extinguisher
  • Alternate heat source (fireplace) and/or electricity source (generator*) in case you lose power
  • Sand and a shovel to help dig out your driveway
  • Spare batteries in a variety of sizes
  • Bottled water, canned goods, and other non-perishable food items
  • Make sure your car is serviced and has a full tank of gas

*Never run your generator indoors.

Consider a Maintenance Inspection

What’s a Maintenance Inspection?

A maintenance inspection is essentially the same as a standard home inspection, but the inspection is done for the current owner. Many of these homeowners have been in their homes for several years, and they may or may not have had their home inspected at the time they purchased it. The homeowner may or may not be looking to sell their home; most are just looking for information about the home’s current condition. Usually, the homeowner accompanies the inspector for the maintenance inspection.

Why get a Maintenance Inspection?

Think of a maintenance inspection as a checkup visit to the doctor or dentist that need only happen every five years or so. A maintenance inspection will help to prioritize a home improvement list, and to hopefully find out about small problems before they turn into big, more costly ones. In some cases, a maintenance inspection will reveal that what was thought to be a small problem has already turned into a big one.

A maintenance inspection also gives homeowners a chance to have a professional home inspector answer questions with a completely impartial viewpoint. The home inspector is just there to provide a professional service, NOT to sell anything. We’re there to give unbiased, accurate information.

If you have questions or would like more information on a maintenance inspection, please contact Micah Stephens with SafeShield Inspections, LLC at (832) 953-6992 or email

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Alli Stephens is a marketing and communications professional who works to ensure the highest level of service for clients. Alli believes that a wise customer is an informed customer, and she knows that a home inspection provides clients with important details about the current condition of a home.