One thing we can all count on is that winter isn't far off. Before the first snow or before the thermometer takes a huge nosedive you want to get your home prepped for winter. The following is a good guideline to use. Schedule it right and all of these items can be checked off in a couple of weekends.
Get Your Furnace Checked Out
Your furnace is your front line of defense on a chilly night. You probably haven't touched it much since last winter but that doesn't mean it will be ready to spring into action. Set up an appointment with a professional HVAC tech to give your furnace a complete inspection. While they're at it they can also clean out the ducts, replace the filters and other furnace-y type things. This is the time to make sure the area around your furnace is free of any potentially flammable items.
Prep Your Fireplace
Just like your furnace, your fireplace probably wasn't given much of a workout in the summer. Before you toss that first log of winter on, bring in a chimney sweep to do a thorough cleaning. If you can't remember the last time you had your chimney cleaned then you're long overdue. You should also check the chimney cap to make sure the wire mesh is sturdy and will keep out the critters looking for warmth. However, your chimney sweep will check all that out for you. If you really want to DIY make sure you tie yourself down. As it gets colder, your roof gets slippery with frost and/or snow. Lastly, your winter prep should include stocking up on firewood.
Check Your Weather-Stripping
Hopefully all of your windows and doors have been properly weather-stripped. You might not pay much attention to these areas especially in rooms where you don't open the windows very often. However, when it comes to losing heat and bringing in the cold, poorly insulated windows and doors are the number one culprits. If you've got windows in a basement then consider plastic covers for an added layer of winter protection.
Clean Out Your Gutters
Yes, it's the job every homeowner dreads. It's also the one that can cause a lot of headaches if you skip over it. Before water has a chance to freeze, hose out your rain gutters and make sure they are clear of debris. While you're up there you should be looking at your flashing to ensure there won't be any water seepage. In case you're wondering: flashing is a bent sheet metal used to keep water away from your house and it's installed just beneath the roof line and inside the gutter. They work by stopping water from running behind the gutter.
Gear Up Your Winter Tools
You won't be doing much grass cutting so drain your lawnmower of any gas. Then make sure your snow blower is working and you've got sharpened ice scrapers. If it is time to replace your old snow shovel, do it now before you get stuck trying to clear your driveway with something that doesn’t work! Additionally, get a decent supply of ice-melt and/or sand. Make sure whatever you purchase won't harm your sidewalks or driveways. Check the label to make sure it's pet-friendly as well!
Inspect Your Foundations
After every major storm, you should do a quick inspection of your foundation by walking around your entire property. Before winter comes, do that same inspection and make sure you keep the foundation clear of any debris or vegetation that can cause issues with turning into rot. This is the opportunity to plug up any cracks or holes where mice can sneak in through. Everybody wants to get out of the cold!
Swap Out Smoke Alarm Batteries
When you change the clocks, you should be changing your smoke alarm batteries. If you haven't done so already, consider installing carbon monoxide detectors around your furnace or water heaters. This is an added safety precaution that doesn't take much effort but can literally save lives.
Prepare Your Pipes
Do you know how to shut off your water in the case of an emergency? You should. You should also insulate any plumbing pipes that could be exposed to freezing temperatures. Since you won't be using your AC consider emptying out the unit's pipes and shutting off the water valve if it has one.
All the Outdoors Stuff
A big issue in snowstorms is trees. As branches become laden with snow and ice they tend to break off and often bring down power lines. Do you have any branches on your property extending over power lines? If so, you might want to think about cutting them back. It's also time to bring the plants indoors that aren't meant for cold nights. Make sure you’ve turned off all the outdoor faucets and your garden hoses are disconnected and put away for the winter. If you’ve still got your patio furniture on the deck, it’s time to tuck it into storage. Give your barbeque a final cleaning and cover it up.
Have An Emergency Kit Ready
Are you ready for a power outage? It could happen. Make sure you've got an emergency kit of flashlights, batteries, dry food and water standing by just in case. You could also look into a battery backup for your computer. If you really want to be covered, opt for a mini-generator. You're sure to become the most popular person in the neighborhood if the lights go out!
Winter is a time for holidays, family gatherings and plenty of indoor fun. Make it a safe winter for your home and loved ones.