Simple home and yard tips don’t have to take a lot of time, but can save a lot of headaches if that first winter storm catches you unaware. Here’s a checklist to help you prepare:
Assess Your Windows and Doors
Take a walk around your interior, preferably on a windy day. Check for drafts and air leaks; replace weather-stripping, align door thresholds and repair window frames and sills if they’re damaged. If you have storm windows, make sure they’re ready to install. Replace the screens in a storm door with glass panels. Also check your garage door to make sure that it operates properly.
According to the U.S. Department of Energy, nearly half of a home’s total energy use is for heating and cooling, so it makes good financial sense to assure that your systems are as efficient as possible for every season.
Check Your Furnace and Fuel
Before cold weather arrives, schedule or perform any necessary routine maintenance on your furnace or HVAC systems. Clean ducts, replace filters, calibrate the thermostat, and fill the fuel tanks as required. This is also the time to clean the flue and check the chimney if you have a fireplace or woodburning stove. If your home doesn’t have a carbon monoxide detector, consider installing one to assure your safety during the winter.
Prune Trees and Shrubs
Working outside can be a pleasant weekend task during the cooler autumn season. It’s also the time to do some prep work on your landscaping so that your plants will be at their best for the next growing season. Depending on your location, and your commitment to your yard, now is also the time to prepare new garden beds and plant spring bulbs, or tackle projects like brick walls, planters and stone pathways.
Undo Outdoor Hoses
Burst outdoor hose bibbs can be the source of serious interior water damage, and the most common cause is a hose left attached when the first freeze occurs. Eliminate that possibility by undoing your outdoor hoses early in the fall. If you still must water the lawn or your garden, it’s easy enough to reattach the hose as needed. Also, remember to store coiled hoses in the garage or in a shed during the winter. They’ll last longer!
Check Roof Shingles and Gutters
Although it’s not a bad idea to check your roof and clean gutters and downspouts at least quarterly, it’s especially important before winter. Take note of cracked or curling shingles; check to make sure no daylight is visible from the attic, and make sure that all gutters and downspouts are clear of debris prior to snow and ice buildup.
Owning a home requires ongoing maintenance to assure that it will truly be a haven during foul weather, but it doesn’t have to be an unending task or cost a lot of money.