Published Jan 20 2016 11:09 AM EST


Winter weather can wreak havoc on your home. Rather than stand by and let it happen, get ahead of things by prepping your home from the inside-out so that when the snow starts falling and the temperatures start dropping, you can breathe easy knowing your house is ready.

Since much of the country has seen a mild start to winter, Dean Bennett, president of Dean Bennett Design and Construction, Inc. in Castle Rock, Colo., told it’s not too late to tackle some of these projects.

Check Your Chimney and Fireplace

In order to enjoy time snuggled up in front of the fireplace this winter, Bennett suggests making sure that your fireplace and chimney are clean.

“If you have a roof you can get up on safely, check that no birds or anything have tried to nest in the top of the flu because that’ll really block it,” Bennett said. In addition to nesting birds, Bennett also recommends looking for any debris.

Wood-burning fireplaces should also be closely inspected for creosote, a sticky, tar-like residue that can build up on the side of your fireplace. If not cleaned regularly, creosote can lead to chimney fires.

Flush Your Gutters and Downspouts

Fall weather can do a number on gutters and downspouts — especially since fallen leaves can clog them. According to Bennett, it’s important to clear gutters and downspouts to remove leaves and other debris before winter storms come along.

“You want to inspect them and run a hose through them,” which can easily do the job, Bennett said.

Change the Direction of Your Ceiling Fan

In warm months, ceiling fans should spin counter-clockwise in order to keep air circulating properly. But just as winter has opposite weather as summer, ceiling fans should spin in the opposite direction.

“You want the [warm] air pushing down in the winter and pulling up in the summer,” Bennett said. Getting your fan to spin in the correct direction doesn’t require taking it down and using tools, “every fan has a switch on it that will do that for you,” the contractor added.

Seal Your Windows

Sipping cocoa next to the window as you watch the snow fall outside is much less cozy when a small stream of frigid air is making its way into your home. Luckily, the solution here is simple: seal your windows with an insulation kit like this one from 3M.

“The little kits, which have plastic film for windows, work well,” Bennett said.

While these kits come in handy to keep the cold out, Bennett noted that these popular kits do have one drawback: “sometimes they’ll pull the paint off because the double-stick tape is pretty strong.” Combat that at the end of the season by having a little can of paint that matches your windowpanes and windowsills.