There’s a lot to love about your home in winter: beautiful snow, cozy fires and hot chocolate. But the fun is sometimes accompanied by problematic weather forecasts that can throw a wrench in your plans and damage your home.

Winterize your home for added peace of mind, and so you can be prepared for the cold.

1. Inspect your trees, roof and gutters

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When you winterize your home, start outside. Check out the trees that surround your home, driveway, garage and nearby power lines. If you have branches growing over these areas, damage may occur if there’s snow or ice buildup. Also look for dead branches and limbs, which are more susceptible to breaking. You can identify these by checking for dead leaves, barkless areas, or spots with mushrooms.

Next, look toward your roof. It’s best to get a professional to inspect your roof annually. They will check for curling, buckling, tearing or missing shingles; rusted, dented or damaged flashing; and secure gutters. It’s important that your gutters are cleaned before it gets icy or there’s a snowstorm as debris can freeze and cause roof damage.

2. Tune up your furnace and boilers

Furnaces and boilers should be looked at periodically, but definitely call a professional inspector to check them out before winter hits. Inspections help ensure your home’s heating systems are functioning safely and efficiently. They also help prolong use. And while they’re at it, a professional can also help detect any gas or carbon monoxide leaks.

When you take steps to winterize your home, also consider how much you pay to heat it. Your local power company might offer a free energy savings assessment that will offer tips on making your home more energy-efficient in winter. Here are other cost-effective ways to stay warm at home during winter.

3. Insulate your pipes, windows, entryways and attic

To winterize your home, it’s especially important to insulate exposed pipes along walls or unheated areas, as water can freeze and cause the pipes to burst if the temperature drops below 32 degrees. Insulating pipes is easy, too. Most hardware stores have pipe insulation, and all you need to do is cut it to fit the length of the pipe, wrap it around and then secure with duct tape. (This is also a good time to remind yourself where your home’s water shutoff valve is, in case a pipe bursts.)

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Windows and entryways are often the culprits when cold air seeps into your home. If you notice cold air around closed windows and doors, consider replacing the weatherstripping, which is used to seal gaps. Old or damaged weatherstripping can cause warm air to escape and let cold air enter. For help finding drafts in your home, carefully hold a lit candle along your windows, baseboards and entryways. If you see the candle flicker, you’ve found a draft.

Although it’s a short-term solution, you can also use plastic film to insulate your windows during colder weather. And if you live in an especially cold climate, try adding Bubble Wrap over the film for extra insulation.

If your home has an attic, ensure that it’s well insulated to prevent heat loss and damage from ice dams, which form when heat escapes into the attic and warms up the snow on your roof.

4. Equip your home with supplies

Milk and bread will only go so far if you and your family are stuck inside because of a storm. Naturally, you’ll want to winterize your home with nonperishable food items, water, flashlights and blankets, but also consider items like battery backups and a first aid kit.

For the outside areas, make sure that you have a snow shovel, ice pick, salt, salt spreader and gas if you have a snowblower or generator.

5. Maintain your chimney

Before you use it each year, have your chimney inspected and cleaned by a certified professional. Creosote buildup in chimneys—caused by the byproducts from burning wood—is highly combustible. Here are more tips for safely using your fireplace.

6. Triple check your home’s insurance policy

It’s never a bad time to review your home’s insurance policy, but before winter hits is best. Ensure your policy includes peril coverage to protect your home from weather-related issues like frozen plumbing, damage resulting from the weight of snow and ice and from water seepage from your roof.

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