Winter is a wonderful time of year, but the beautiful snow brings its own challenges. If you have never owned a home in a chilly climate before, it is imperative that you prepare your house for the upcoming cold spell. Doing so will keep you safe and save you a significant amount of money.

Not sure where to start? No problem! Here are four ways you can get your house ready for winter.

1. Monitor Your Rooftop

Snow is surprisingly heavy. When snow builds up on your rooftop, it can cause leaks, damages, and even full-on roof collapses. Make sure you have a roof load calculator. This device will monitor the pressure your rooftop is under and alert you if precautionary measures—such as snow clearing—must be taken. 

2. Check Your Pipes

If the water in your plumbing freezes, it will expand toward the faucet and cause a pressure build-up. This could result in a cracked pipe or a complete pipe burst. Frozen pipes cost Americans thousands of dollars each year, so make sure yours are insulated. In extremely cold temperatures, raise your thermostat and allow your faucets to trickle water to further prevent burst pipes.

3. Practice Fireplace Safety

What better way to enjoy a brisk winter day than to curl up by a warm hearth with a mug of hot cocoa and a bag full of marshmallows just waiting to be roasted? Fireplaces are charming home features, but it is important to enjoy them safely. Make sure that your chimney is professionally swept at least once a year, preferably before winter descends. Additionally, clean out leftover ashes after each use, use a metal or glass screen to block flying embers, and thoroughly extinguish fires before you leave the room.

4. Shovel Your Sidewalks and Driveway

Did you know that in some states and municipalities, you can be sued if someone slips on your icy sidewalk? If you neglect to shovel your sidewalks and driveway, you could face dangerous slips, medical bills, and potential lawsuits. Be vigilant about snow and ice buildup. To melt stubborn ice, sprinkle it with road salt. Pour kitty litter or sand on walking and driving surfaces to add traction.

Winter can be intimidating, especially for those who have not experienced it before. Accidents may happen, but most are preventable. Taking these precautionary measures will give you peace of mind as you enjoy these magical snowy months.