Leaves in gutter

 In the fall is when you want to get

ready for the winter cold

Here is a fairly easy checklist of things to do around your home, from plumbing to your roof before winter so you can enjoy the snow and not worry about your home.

  1. Tune up your heating system : Turn the thermostat to heat mode and set it to 80 degrees just for testing. You should hear the furnace turn on and warm air should blow within a few minutes. If it’s running OK, turn the thermostat back to its normal setting. Depending on what’s wrong, you can fix it yourself or you may need a qualified service technician.
  2. Reverse your ceiling fans : the fan will produce an updraft and push down into the room heated air from the ceiling (remember, hot air rises).
  3. Prevent Ice Dams : A home-energy auditor or weatherization contractor can identify and fix air leaks and inadequate insulation in your home’s attic that can lead to ice dams. If you have the work done before December 31, 2013, you can claim the federal energy-efficiency tax credit for 10% of the cost (excluding installation), up to $500. Your utility company may offer a rebate, too.
  4. Check the Roof: Look for damaged, loose or missing shingles that may leak during winter’s storms or from melting snow.  Check and repair breaks in the flashing seals around vent stacks and chimneys, too.   If your roof is flat and surfaced with asphalt and pebbles, rake or blow off fall leaves and pine needles, which hold moisture.
  5. Caulk around windows and doors : if the gaps between siding and window or door frames are bigger than the width of a nickel, you need to reapply exterior caulk.   Add weather stripping as needed around doors, making sure you cannot see any daylight from inside your home.
  6. Clean Gutters: If your gutters are full of detritus, water can back up against the house and damage roofing, siding and wood trim — plus cause leaks and ice dams.
  7. Call a Chimney Sweep: Before you burn the Yule log, make sure your fireplace (or any heating appliance burning gas, oil, wood or coal), chimney and vents are clean and in good repair. That will prevent chimney fires and prevent carbon monoxide from creeping into your home.
  8. Divert Water:  Add extensions to downspouts so that water runs at least 3 to 4 feet away from the foundation.
  9. Turn off Extertior Faucets: Undrained water in pipes can freeze, which will cause pipes to burst as the ice expands. Start by disconnecting all garden hoses and drain the water that remains in faucets by turning off the shut-off valve inside your home.
  10. Test your Sump Pump: Slowly pour several gallons of water into the sump pit to see whether the pump turns on. You should do this every few months, but especially after a long dry season or before a rainy one.
  11. Drain your Lawn –Irrigation Systems: call in a professional to do the job. Your sprinkler service will charge $50 to $150, depending on the size of the system. Draining sprinkler-system pipes, as with spigots, will help avoid freezing and leaks.
  12. Mulch leaves when you mow : The trick is to cut the leaves, while dry, into dime-sized pieces that will fall among the grass blades, where they will decompose and nourish your lawn over the winter.
  13. Re-stock Winter Essentials: Don’t wait for the first winter storm to restock cold-weather essentials, such as salt or ice melt.

 

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