With the crisp autumn breeze and everything pumpkin on the way, it is time to start getting your home ready for the coming winter. A bit of prep work can go a long way in keeping you cozy and preventing disasters indoors and out. Keep in mind these important things for your fall to-do list.
Tune Up Your Heating System
Cooler weather means it is time to turn on the heat again. Make sure your heating system is functioning well. You have time to get repairs done before the temperature drops. If you have water radiators, make sure to bleed them so the entire fins get hot. If you use steam radiators, ensure that the air hole is open and clear, as they are often coated in paint.
Clean Your Furnace
No matter what fuel powers your furnace, have it serviced to be sure it is in running order. Change the air filter – and get an extra one or two to keep on hand. This helps it operate efficiently. Don’t forget to also dust and remove anything in the duct work, too.
Sweep Your Chimney
For homes that use a fireplace or woodstove, clean your chimney before it gets cold! Ideally, you should do this every 50-70 burns to remove any buildup of creosote and soot. Obviously this can be a seriously messy task, and while you can do it yourself, it’s worth spending the $200-$400 to hire a professional. If your local chimney sweep is booked, consider using a chimney cleaning log until they can schedule you.
Test Smoke and Carbon Monoxide
Any heating system can present the additional risk of fires. Be sure you have smoke detectors in every room. This is a good time to replace existing batteries in these detectors. You also want to test your existing carbon monoxide detectors – or purchase them if you do not have any.
Check For Drafts
Drafts can be a real drag on your home’s heating efficiency. Check all your windows and doors for any drafts and consider replacing the weather stripping where needed. If that’s too big of a project, a temporary fix is to purchase or make draft dodgers. Depending on the type of windows you have in your home, now is the time to remove screens and install storm windows.
Inspect Your Roof
Heavy snow sitting on your roof for prolonged periods wreaks havoc on roofs that are already showing signs of damage or leaking. To avoid leaks this winter, have a professional visit your home to inspect your roof. They’ll look for signs of wear and tear, such as damaged shingles or flashing around skylights and chimneys. Based on their findings you will have time to repair these issues before they cause major damage. Be sure to trim any branches that hang over your roof to forestall damage if they break from the weight of snow and ice.
Remove Debris from Gutters and Window Wells
Protect your roof, siding, windows, and landscaping by cleaning your gutters. While it’s an annoying and messy chore, biting the bullet can prevent significant damage caused by any heavy ice left behind by a winter storm. Surprisingly, one of the best tools for this job is an old plastic spatula cut to size for gutters and a plumber’s snake for spouts. Whenever you clean your gutters, always be sure to use your ladder safely. Don’t forget to clean window wells along your basement windows too. Snow and ice on top of leaves and debris can create a level of pressure that can break your windows, causing basement flooding.
Swap Out Equipment
After the first hard frost it’s time to put the lawnmower away and pull out the snowblower and shovels. Make sure your power generator is in working condition for any big storms this winter. If you need to store gasoline this winter, store it in proper containers. Consider using an additive to keep it fresh if it will be sitting for a long time in cold weather.
Winterize Your Outdoor Water Systems
Save money next spring by properly caring for your sprinkler system, hoses, and outdoor water systems. You can call in a professional to help with this or use your own air compressor to blow the system out. Cut off the water supply and fully dry out all outdoor water systems. Make sure your hoses are dry completely and move them indoors. Not doing this can result in cracked hoses, burst pipes, and significant repairs or replacements next spring.
Fix Walkways and Your Driveway
Broken walkways and driveways can be hazardous in even the hottest months. But, add in ice and it’s a whole other ball game. To prevent falls and keep the damage from getting worse by expanding ice, use fall to repair any damaged walks, driveways, or steps. If you catch these issues early enough, they’re often easy to fix yourself. Otherwise, you’ll need to call in a professional to tackle the problem.
Protect Your Outdoor Furniture and Grill
If you protect your outdoor furniture you can add years to its life. Wood, wrought iron, and glass can all be damaged by the snow and ice. Ideally, you’ll be able to store this furniture inside throughout the winter. If you don’t have the space, give your furniture a new coat of sealant; once fully dried, cover it tightly with a tarp. The same goes for your gas grill. Just be sure that you do not store your furniture or grill where snow or ice may fall off of your roof. Remember, propane tanks are highly explosive so never store them indoors.
Baby Your Lawn
Help your lawn make it through the harsh winter by giving it a bit of extra TLC. Rake up any leaves and sticks and dispose of them properly. Now is the time to cut your grass short, aerate your lawn, and sprinkle fertilizer. These efforts will help ensure healthy growth once the snow thaws.
Make an Emergency Kit
When it comes to snow and ice you never know how things are going to go. Take some time and put together a winter emergency kit for your home and your vehicle so that you are prepared when storms come this winter. While it doesn’t need to be extreme, you’ll want items such as a flashlight, a candle-powered heater and matches or lighter, phone charger and power bank, first aid kit, hand warmers, hats and gloves, blankets, water, snacks, etc.