Is it too early to prepare your home for winter?

It’s always easier to make winter preparations (home maintenance) in the summer and fall. Prepare your checklist now and get these chores out of the way before the cold(er) weather sets in. The sooner you start the sooner you’ll be prepared.

Check your heating and air conditioning systems:

Most heating and air conditioning systems typically last 12 to 15 years. With proper maintenance you can stretch that to 20 years. Change your heating units filter and having the heating system inspected by a reputable HVAC contractor.  Test out the system to make sure it’s working properly.

Paint, caulk and seal exterior wood:

All of the wood trim on the exterior needs to be protected from the elements. The wood used on your deck is typically a pressure-treated or rot-resistant species of wood, but the wood trim around your exterior doors and windows is just a one-inch-thick pine board that deteriorates very quickly if not protected. Protect it with paint and caulking. Make sure your deck is properly protected with stain and sealant.

Seal your masonry and hard surfaces:

Make sure your concrete patio, driveway or walk is properly protected. Apply a concrete sealer to all of your flat exterior concrete surfaces. All concrete flatwork eventually develops cracks. Inspect your concrete and fill in any cracks before you apply sealer so that water cannot get in and freeze over the winter. Don’t forget to reseal your asphalt driveway to prevent deterioration.

Check your drainage:

Check the soil around your foundation and fill in low spots if it has settled. Water / ice can create cracks in your foundation. Check your rain gutter downspouts to make sure water is getting moved away from the home. Add downspout extenders if necessary.

Clean your gutters and install gutter guards:

Once the leaves are off the trees, it’s time to clean the gutters. If feasible, install gutter guards to eliminate future gutter cleaning tasks.

Clean your chimney and order firewood:

Get your fireplace cleaned and inspected before you start building those cozy fires in the Fall and Winter. Pre-order firewood to get the best price.

Test your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors:

Most house fires happen in the Winter. It’s the time of year when we’re blasting the furnace and building fires. We are also much more likely to have our home closed up tight, so carbon monoxide is a much bigger hazard. Check all your smoke detectors to make sure they are working and the batteries are good. If your home is not equipped with carbon monoxide detectors, consider getting some. The HVAC inspection will also ensure your furnace and water heater are properly vented, which is the most likely source of carbon monoxide.

Shut down the pool and the sprinkler system and drain outside faucets:

Make sure your pool is properly shut down and prepare the system for winter. I think it’s worth the costs of getting an expert to inspect and shut down the system, even if you’re a do-it-yourselfer the rest of the year. Fall is a good time to get pool work done if a problem is discovered. Pool contractors tend to get busy in the spring.

Make sure your sprinkler system is properly shut down for the season. It’s well worth the cost for a professional to blow out your sprinkler system.

Your outside water faucet will freeze over the winter. Sometimes freezing splits the water line well inside the home, flooding the basement. Simply shut off the water valve to your outside spigot, then go outside and open the exterior spigot valve and let the water drain out of the line.

Prepare your lawn for winter and set it up for a great spring:

For a beautiful spring lawn, you have to give it attention in the fall. New grass does not grow when it’s too hot or too cold. If you want new grass to grow, you really only have September and October, then April and May to do it. If you neglect the fall, then you’ve cut your time in half. Late September is a good time to aerate the lawn and overseed it. Then in late October or November, apply fertilizer with winterizer.

Check your trees:

Take a look at your trees and make sure they’re still healthy, especially trees that could fall on your home or a neighbor’s home. Don’t think a dying tree will be obvious. Sometimes you really won’t notice, especially if you have a lot of trees.

Make sure your attic doesn’t become a critter hotel:

Your attic is the perfect winter home for squirrels and birds – these critters can cause a lot of damage and potentially create health problems. Make sure your trees are trimmed well away from the house, and make sure your gable vents are intact. It’s a good idea to tack a screen up behind your gable vent just in case.

Do a quick energy audit:

A professional energy audit is a good investment. Fall is also a good time just to check your door seals. Make sure you’re not seeing daylight around your exterior doors. Take a can of spray foam insulation and fill in around those drafty outlets and light switches.

Prep your expensive lawn and yard care equipment:

Before you put your lawn equipment away for the season, Drain the gas from your lawn equipment before putting it away for the winter. You can also just put a fuel stabilizer into the gas if you want to keep it on hand. Plan to do one really good trim job at the end of the season to run the fuel out of the weed eater. If you used your pressure washer this year, then make sure the gas is out of that as well. Run some pump-protecting antifreeze through the system. All this equipment is expensive; take the time to protect it.

Cover your patio furniture:

Protect your patio furniture protected – wait for a warm clear day to paint it so you don’t trap moisture on it.

Prepare for snow removal:

If you live in a snowy area, dig out the snowblower and fire it up before the big one hits. Make sure it’s ready for that snowy morning. If it’s not, get it repaired now. Take inventory of your salt and shovel situation, make sure you’re ready when the big snowstorm hits.

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