rusty chimney

The last few winters have progressively gotten worse it seems. Some blame it on global warming, others say it’s just a changing of the times. Whatever the reason, it’s been wreaking havoc on many homes and chimneys. Today I thought I’d put together a list of ways to winterize your home and chimney to prevent as much damage as possible. I’ll help out as much as possible by giving several reasons and details, so I hope you find this advice beneficial.


Inspect your home’s surroundings carefully. Last year we saw heavy snow and hard winds blow large trees onto homes and vehicles. Make sure that your home and vehicle are clear of such hazards. I understand the appeal of large trees, so take precautions other than tree removal whenever possible. Cut back large limbs that may snap and cause serious damage.

Inspect Your Roof

I mention the roof next, because it’s usually beneficial to work from the top down, or in some direction that you easily remember. When inspecting the roof, look for old or worn shingles and replace any damaged shingles. Sticks and limbs from trees may seem harmless enough, but if one jabs through or underneath a shingle, it’s game-over for that one. Clean as much of the roof as you’re comfortable climbing on safely.

While you’re on the roof, inspect the chimney, cap, and flashing. Check the chimney itself for cracks, water damage, or any unusual discoloration. Check the cap for discoloration, damage, or small animals. If you don’t have a chimney cap, use a flashlight and look down into your chimney to make sure there are no bird nests or small animals inside who have sought refuge from weather or predators. Your chimney flashing should be seamless and properly protecting your roof from water.

Clean the Gutters

Ice dams are quite common here in the Philadelphia area during winter. Cleaning your gutters is the first line of defense against them. Properly working guttering and downspouts protect against water damage and ice dams.

Windows and Doors

Make sure the windows and doors are all working properly in case of an emergency. Make sure they all seal tightly to prevent heat from escaping your home during winter. If you feel any draft around the outer edges or the tracks on which the windows slide, consider adding weather strips to ensure a tight closure.

Once Per Year

Hire a chimney sweep at least once per year. I don’t recommend this because I’m out to take your money for no reason. I say it because it’s extremely important to the health and wellbeing of your family and your home. A certified chimney sweep will thoroughly inspect and clean your chimney to make sure it is working properly.

Make sure your chosen chimney sweep is certified, licensed, and insured. Some con artists have been making their way around the Philadelphia area insisting on making repairs immediately, and taking your hard-earned money before the  job is complete. Sometimes they’re leaving behind a much worse chimney situation than they claim to repair. Please don’t be taken advantage of by these fraudulent chimney sweeps.

what other winter preparations do you make to your home each year? Share them here in the comments section, I’d love to hear from you.