Just as you’re about to settle down on a warm fall afternoon to enjoy the changing leaves, with a start you remember that winter weather is just a few weeks away. Mentally you review a list of chores waiting to be done that will prepare your home for the inevitable onslaught of bitter cold, freezing rain, and snowfalls. Up you jump to begin the process of preparing your home for winter.
- Check the roof for leaks. Replace missing or loose shingles. Repair leaking areas to prevent moisture damage to the attic or inside rooms. Clean out leaves, bird nests, and tree branches or acorns from gutters to prevent debris build-up and drain corrosion or backup, leading to possible harm to your home’s siding or molding. Inside, look for damp spots on walls or ceilings, and take care of them promptly to prevent mold, mildew, or structural damage.
- Have the chimney cleaned. Call an expert chimney sweeper for a professional and thorough job of cleaning ash and cinders from your hearth and chimney. Failure to do this chore every year or two can lead to eventual obstruction, which means that harmful carbon monoxide, released during combustion like that produced in a fireplace, may back up and attack family members with its silent, odorless, lethal gas.
- Arrange a furnace inspection and maintenance. Call trained and certified technicians selected from the yellow pages or Better Business Bureau. Have this done in early summer, when many companies offer discounts and can get to your home promptly. If you wait until fall, there may be several customers or more urgent calls ahead of you.
- Put away lawn tools and get out the shovels and snow blower. Make sure you have the right kind of gas and oil on hand, and arrange the tools in the garage, basement, or shed so you can get to them easily and quickly when needed, perhaps during an unexpected snowstorm. You may need to have the snow blower or tractor checked for maintenance updates, or perhaps an oil change and engine inspection every year or two.
- Check all windows for cracks or leaks, inside and out. Caulk areas that let in outside air or appear to be in a state of decay. Look for signs of termite or other pest infestation, and treat them promptly if you suspect a problem. Also be sure to check each outside entrance door to your home, garage, and shed for similar problems. If you need to replace broken windows, now is the time to do it, before the winter winds blow cold.
- Check and possibly change the batteries of all smoke detectors and the carbon monoxide detector. Test each one to be sure all are working properly with a high-pitched warning siren. Consider adding more units to areas that may not have adequate protection from current units, such as the basement, attic, garage, or spare rooms.
When you’ve completed all these tasks and any others that come to mind, you can finally sit back with a last glass of summer-like lemonade to enjoy those fleeting rays of sun. You’ve earned it! And your home is secure at last from the potentially damaging weather changes that lie ahead.