As the temperatures continue to dip, we want to share these tips to ensure that your home is prepared for the cold days ahead. The article below is courtesy of RIS Media, one of the leading information sources for real estate.

Fall is the perfect time for homeowners to ensure their house is prepared for winter weather. A home should be winterized so it will be able to sustain damage severe weather may bring. Additionally, if a house is winterized and damages do occur, the homeowners insurance policy will cover the house against the weather damage. offers advice so people can prepare for winter weather and help avoid potential costly issues.

Homeowners must first inspect their house thoroughly so that possible issues can be avoided. The most important interior areas are the furnace and fireplace. HVAC professionals can inspect the furnace and clean out the ducts. Furnace filters should be replaced on a monthly basis to keep ducts clean. Any flammable materials around the furnace should be removed.

If there is a hot-water radiator, the valves need to be opened slightly to bleed. When water is seen, they can be closed. If propane is used in the home, the tank will need to be filled. These should all be inspected to be sure they are working properly.

If there is a fireplace in the house, the screen or cap on the top of the chimney should be secure to keep out any birds, squirrels or rodents. The chimney should be cleaned by a professional occasionally because buildup of soot can cause fires. The damper should open and close properly and the mortar between the bricks should not be cracked. Any cracks should be fixed so heat does not seep into areas it should not be, creating a fire hazard.

The next step in preparing for winter for safety and insurance purposes is to examine the exterior. Damage may not be evident immediately during winter months, and may only be noticed with the first spring rain. The doors and windows should be checked for cracks, and then fixed. If the homeowner has a basement, shields can be placed over the window wells for protection from snow melt. Any worn shingles or roof tiles should be replaced so melted snow does not seep into weak areas. Gutters and downspouts should also be unclogged and leaf guards should be installed. Debris should then be cleared from the foundation to look for further cracks to repair.