There are a thousand things to love about living in Chicago, but our notoriously brutal winters are not among them. No one waxes nostalgic about standing on an L platform in subzero temperatures in the middle of February. But that’s what makes us Chicagoans; that and a heavy jacket, hat, scarf, gloves, and all the other items we put on to stay warm. But our winter preparations go beyond our wardrobes. Our homes must make it through the season as well, and do so in a way that allows us to feel warm and cozy when the world outside is cold and gray.

Preparing your home for winter isn’t just about comfort, however. Freezing temperatures, ice, and other winter dangers can cause serious and costly damage to your house if you don’t get it ready for the season. Here are seven tips for keeping your home safe and sound during a Chicago winter.

  • Furnace tune-up. Your furnace and HVAC system is the beating heart of your home during the winter. You don’t want it to suddenly stop beating during a cold stretch, only to have to wait days for busy repairers to show up and fix the problem. Be proactive and have a professional give your furnace a tune-up that can identify problems and minimize the chance that your heat goes out at the worst time. A tune-up will also help your furnace’s efficiency, deferring some of the cost of the service.
  • Reverse ceiling fans. If you have a ceiling fan with a reverse switch, use it. Turn the fan’s blades such that they spin clockwise. This will push hot air down when your furnace is running.
  • Dodge the draft. Check the weatherstripping (or install some) around all windows and doors to prevent costly drafts. Caulk those same areas if necessary, replace screen doors with storm doors, and remove any window AC units to keep cold air from seeping in through the inevitable gaps they create.
  • Check your fireplace. Look at your firebox and flue system to make sure that they’re clean of any soot or creosote and that there aren’t any cracks that could cause a fire hazard. Check the damper as well; if it is warm, rusted, or worn, cold air can seep through and generate a draft.
  • Prevent ice dams. Air leaks and insufficient insulation in your attic can create ice dams. This buildup of ice can cause melting water to back up and flow back into your house. Have a weatherization professional inspect your attic to identify and remediate any air leaks. Clean your gutters if you can do so safely or have someone else do it as gutters full of leaves and other debris can also lead to ice dams.
  • Turn off outside faucets. Undrained water in pipes can freeze and cause those pipes to burst. Disconnect and drain your garden hoses and turn off the interior shut-off valve for any outside faucets.
  • Have supplies at the ready. You know you’ll need to get rid of snow at some point, so make sure your shovel or snowblower is in good working order. Keep an ample supply of salt or ice melter handy as well.


If you’re looking for a warm and cozy Chicago home this winter, Z Chicago can help you find the perfect place. Contact us at 312-810-2295 to speak with one of our talented and dedicated agents today.