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Preparing for Winter in Vermont: Your Essential Fall Home Maintenance Checklist

Raking leaves

As fall foliage begins to take over the Green Mountain State, it’s time to prepare your home for the upcoming Vermont winter. While winter in Vermont can be beautiful, it certainly brings with it unique challenges for homeowners. To help you prepare, we have created an essential fall home maintenance checklist.



Fall in Vermont means an abundance of leaves, which can clog your gutters and downspouts. A clogged gutter could result in water damage to your home’s roof and facade. Snow melt that is blocked from draining will turn to ice and build up over time, making its way between gaps in the edge of your roof and creating extensive damage.  Make sure to clean out your gutters and check for any necessary repairs.



Vermont winters can be chilly, and drafts from windows and doors can significantly increase your heating costs. Use weatherstripping or caulk to seal any leaks and add door sweeps to your exterior doors. For windows, consider window insulation kits, which can dramatically improve your home’s ability to retain heat.

When I think of caulk, my mind jumps immediately to the messy tubes of material that contractors use when waterproofing a bathroom or kitchen countertop, but last year I discovered that some window caulk comes in a roll and can be easily applied, then removed. No tools or mess and it took only a few minutes to do!



Before the cold sets in, have your heating system serviced by a professional. This is especially true if you use propane or oil to heat your home. Make sure whomever you hire is licensed to work on your system, and ensure they check for leaks, look for inefficiencies, and change the filter, although you can do the latter if you know what kind of filters your home heating system uses. Additionally, bleed your radiators to let out any trapped air, ensuring they run efficiently and quietly!



Snow accumulation can be heavy in Vermont, and your roof is your home’s first line of defense. Have your roof inspected for any loose or missing shingles that could leak during Vermont’s winter storms. Also, ensure your attic insulation is sufficient to prevent heat loss. Because heat rises, one of the best things you can do to reduce your heating bill is to make sure that your attic isn’t letting too much heat out!

A contractor working on the insulation in my attic shared with me that the amount of snow buildup on your roof can be an indicator of the efficiency of the insulation in your attic. Right after snowfall, is there snow on your roof? If no, it’s likely your attic could use more insulation. Here’s a helpful graphic from Kapella Roofing that shows what a functional attic looks like.


Home roof graphic showing the movement of air in a good and badly insulated home



Before the first frost, drain your outdoor faucets and irrigation systems to prevent pipes from freezing and bursting. Don’t forget to disconnect and store your garden hoses indoors. Modern houses are likely to have freeze proof hose bibs, but unless you know for sure, it isn’t worth taking the risk. I personally like to be able to use the hose in the winter, so I replaced all of our house bibs with these freeze proof connections from Aquor.

If your home has a septic tank, fall is a good time to have it pumped and inspected to prevent any unpleasant surprises during the winter.



This one might seem obvious, but many people don’t look for cracks or holes in their home’s exterior that could allow cold air, snow, or pests inside. Pay special attention to areas where utilities and pipes enter your home. Use caulk or expanding foam insulation to seal any gaps.


Cabin in the woods in winter

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If you’re lucky enough to have a fireplace, ensure it’s ready to provide cozy warmth in the winter months. Have the chimney professionally cleaned to remove soot or creosote build-up. Check the damper to make sure it opens and closes properly. Gas fireplaces don’t need the same level of maintenance, but it’s a good idea to have it checked every few years, especially if it is a primary heating element in your house.



Don’t wait for the first snowfall to stock up on winter essentials. This includes snow shovels, ice scrapers, salt or ice melt, and emergency supplies in case of power outages. If you have a snow blower, check that it’s in good working order.



Wrap young trees or shrubs in burlap to protect them from heavy snowfall. Clear away any fallen leaves or debris from your yard and trim any branches that hang too close to your house or power lines. I like to mow the lawn as close to the first snowfall as possible but be careful not to cut the grass too short!


Taking the time to complete these fall home maintenance tasks can make a big difference once winter hits. Not only will your home be more comfortable and efficient, but you’ll also be able to enjoy the winter season knowing you’ve done everything you can to protect your home. Remember, proper preparation is key to weathering a Vermont winter!


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Oliver Ames Headshot

About Oliver Ames

Oliver is VSECU's social media strategist and spends most of his day engaging with members through our Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and Instagram profiles. He has a background in science education, non-profit fundraising, business communication, media production, and membership-based organizations. When not at work, Oliver spends much of his time with his wife and son at their home in Montpelier.
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