Hard to believe it’s that time again! Fall is here, and you need to start getting your home ready for the winter months to come. To help get you started, here’s a checklist of some of the projects that you need to consider:
__ Check the fireplace: It’s about time to get those logs burning, so get the fireplace ready! Clean the fireplace chimney or wood stove flue using brushes approved for the size and type of flue you have. If you’re not partial to ladders, roofs and soot, this is a good project to leave to an experienced chimney sweep company. A good chimney sweep will also inspect the fireplace from top to bottom, and talk to you about any repairs that need doing. Clean out the firebox, making sure you place the ashes in a fireproof container with a tight lid for proper disposal. If you have an airtight wood stove or fireplace insert, check the door-seal gasket, and clean the glass on the door.
__ Change your furnace filters: Replace your old furnace filter with a new one. While you’re at it, check the furnace for worn belts, lubrication needs or other servicing that might be required; refer to your owner’s manual for specific suggestions, and follow any manufacturer safety instructions for shutting the power and fuel to the furnace before servicing.
__ Change smoke detector batteries: Replace the batteries in each of your smoke detectors with a fresh one. When you’re done, take a moment to test each detector and make sure it’s operating correctly.
__ Install a carbon monoxide detector: As houses get closed up for winter, the chances of carbon monoxide poisoning from malfunctioning gas appliances increases substantially. If you have a furnace, fireplace, water heater or other appliance that is fueled by propane or natural gas, now is the ideal time to install a carbon monoxide detector. They’re available inexpensively from many home centers and retailers of heating system supplies.
__ Check the gutters: Fall is the ideal time to check your gutter and downspout systems. Clear the gutters of leaf and pine needle debris, and check that the opening between the gutter and the downspout is unobstructed. Look for loose joints or other structural problems with the system, and repair them as needed using pop rivets. Use a gutter sealant to seal any connections where leaks may be occurring. …CONTINUED
__ Drain sprinkler systems: In colder areas, now is the time to be thinking about having your sprinkler and irrigation systems blown out. You can rent a compressor and do this yourself, or contact a landscape or irrigation system installer and them handle this for you. This is also the time to shut off outdoor faucets and install freeze-proof faucet covers as needed.
__ Handle those yard chores: Many plants require pruning this time of year, and lawns should be fertilized with a fall/winter fertilizer to feed them through the winter and get them ready for a fast green-up when spring returns. Clean up all your yard tools and put them away for the season.
__ Close off foundation vents: Depending on the winter climate in your area, you’ll want to be thinking about closing off your foundation vents to help prevent pipe freezes. You can leave the foundation open for as many months as the weather remains mild, but close them off when the local forecasts begin calling for freezing temperatures. Once closed, you can leave them that way until it warms up again in the spring.
__ Pack up the patio: Check and clean patio furniture and put them away for the winter. Clean and cover removable furniture cushions to protect them from dust and dirt, but be sure the cushions are dry before storing in order to prevent mildew growth.
__ Check weatherstripping: Air leaks around doors and windows can rob your home of expensive heated air and create uncomfortable drafts that keep you feeling chilly. Check the weatherstripping around doors and windows, and replace any that are worn — retailers who specialize in doors and windows can fix you up with the proper replacement type for your situation. Now is also a good time to close up a few more air leaks by checking the condition of caulking around exterior door and window frames.
__ Change light timers: If you have exterior lights that are controlled by timers, including low-voltage ones, check the timer settings. Change the "on" times to an earlier hour to reflect the earlier winter darkness, so that you always have adequate outside light available.
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