Mind the Gaps
Did you know that some groups indigenous to the frozen expanse of Siberia are genetically adapted to living in the cold? Well, for the rest of us, staying warm is pretty important. To make sure you can do that without paying through the nose, take some time to inspect the gaps around your doors and windows. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, simply sealing up these small gaps with caulk and weather-stripping can slash a full ten percent off your heating bills. Not bad!
Down in the Gutter
Being “in the gutter” usually isn’t a good thing, but in this case, it’s an absolute necessity. Fall brings dead leaves and other debris that can clog up gutters in a hurry, and if your gutters can’t transport water as intended, you could be in for a big surprise. Clogged gutters can cause rainwater to back up and potentially infiltrate your roofing, and once the weather turns cold, ice dams could wreak havoc on your home.
Watch Your Step(s)
Have you noticed any small cracks in your steps, walkway or driveway? Are any of your steps misaligned? If so, it’s important to deal with these issues before the weather turns cold. Freezing temperatures can cause shifting and expansion that often widens gaps and exacerbates any existing problems, potentially making your steps or walkway unsafe. To prevent this, hire a professional to have any issues repaired before they become even worse.
Fix Those Furnace Filters
Call it common sense, but it’s a pretty good idea to make sure your heating source is functioning at its best when winter is on the horizon. If that heat source is a furnace, make sure you’ve cleaned or replaced your filters. Even better, call a service technician to schedule a full system inspection and tune-up. It’s a great way to ensure you can stay toasty warm all winter, and you may even save some cash on your heating costs.
Winterize Outdoor Water Sources
A burst water pipe in the middle of winter is no fun. Make sure that doesn’t happen to you by winterizing any outdoor plumbing you may have, including exterior faucets, sprinkler systems and water features. Properly winterizing more complex systems can be tricky, however, so in these cases it may be best to hire a professional.
Trim Some Trees
Do you have any trees or limbs that are perilously close to your home? If so, now is the time to have them trimmed and removed. Late fall and winter often bring heavy snow and ice, making falling limbs a real danger. Try to keep a minimum of three feet between your home and any tree limbs. As an added bonus, prune your trees and shrubs during the fall to encourage healthy growth once spring arrives.
Leave No Leaf Behind
Those crisp, crunchy piles of leaves may look beautiful in the fall, but if you don’t remove them promptly, they can spell trouble for your yard. Leaves may suffocate your lawn if left in place, and if they happen to get wet – and they will – they may also become a breeding ground for various pests and diseases. Do yourself and your lawn a favor by raking and removing the leaves as quickly as you can.
Keep out the Critters
Unless you’re running a bootleg petting zoo, you probably don’t want a bunch of wild animals setting up shop in your home. Since cooler weather often drives pests and other critters to seek warmth and shelter, it’s important that you conduct a perimeter check of your home before fall arrives. Look for any small holes or gaps and seal them up as best you can. If you spot any larger gaps, block them off with heavy-gauge hardware cloth to make sure your house stays pest-free.
Want to hear something alarming? Sixty-five percent of home fire deaths occur in homes without working smoke detectors. Make sure you don’t become a statistic by taking the time to test your smoke detectors and put in some fresh batteries. While you’re at it, do the same with your carbon monoxide detectors. Finally, check your fire extinguisher to ensure it isn’t expired. If it is, replace it with a new one.
Stock up on Supplies
We all know people who wait until the day before a blizzard to run out and stock up on snow shovels, ice melt and other supplies. Don’t be that person. Take advantage of the nice weather now to buy all the winter supplies you might need, from shovels and ice scrapers to emergency kits for the home and car.
As the colder months approach, it’s important to take advantage of the good weather while it’s still around. Fall is a great time to handle all sorts of home maintenance tasks, and if you put the ten tips above into action, you and your home will be ready for almost anything winter can throw at you. No promises on those White Walkers, though.