Now that daylight savings is coming to an end, it’s a great time to go through the following checklist to make sure your home is ready for winter. You can refer back to this guide for yearly fall maintenance.
Put Away Outside Furniture, Planters, Garden Hoses, Etc.
If you haven’t done so already, clean your outdoor furniture and accessories and store them away for winter. It makes set up time in the spring go much faster!
Clean the Gutters
Gutters carry rainwater from your roof down the side of your home and away from the foundation. When gutters get filled with leaves and other debris, the water has nowhere to escape. If it backlogs, you could end up with water inside your home which can create mold, or worse. If it freezes and icicles form on the gutters or along the roofline, this is a sign you may have ice damming, a problem many Northeasterner’s experienced last winter. This creates a nightmare you really don’t want to deal with!
Rake or Blow Leaves From the Property
Be mindful to clear all drains around and in front of your house, so they are free of debris and drain properly.
Have the Furnace and Generator Serviced
Have your heating system inspected by a professional. It may not be too late to avoid the last-minute rush, consider scheduling this task soon, before the heating season is full swing. In addition, don’t forget to change your filters if you have a hot air system. Clogged filters make it harder to keep your home at a comfortable temperature, and can seriously increase your utility bills. If you have a hot water system, you may want to bleed your radiators to get the highest efficiency.
If you have a gas run generator, check the tank and make sure you have fuel for the winter. You should also run the generator to make sure it’s in good operating condition-you don’t want this to fail when the power’s out!
Winterize Your Sprinkler System and Outside Water Lines
Take steps to ensure that outside faucets (also called sill cocks) and in-ground irrigation systems don’t freeze and burst by draining them of water before the first freeze.
Here’s how to drain faucets: Close any shut-off water valves serving outside faucets, then open the outside faucet to drain the line of any water in the system. (There may be a small cap on the faucet you can loosen to facilitate this draining.)
Check the Roof
Stop problems this fall before ice and winter winds turn them from annoyances into disasters. Check shingles for cracks and wind damage. Look for damage to metal flashing in valleys and around vents and chimneys. Scan the entire roof for missing, curled, or damaged shingles. Look in your gutters for large accumulations of granules, a sign that your roof is losing its coating.
Replace Bulbs In Outside Lights
It’s dark for 12 hours a day this time of year. Make sure your lights are up for the challenge!
Replace Batteries In Smoke Detectors and Carbon Monoxide Monitors
Connecticut law requires a smoke detector in every bedroom and on each level of your home as well as a carbon monoxide monitor on every floor of your home. Make sure to test and replace the batteries to ensure everything is in working order.
Fix Broken Window Seals and Check For Drafts
A home with air leaks around windows and doors is like a coat left unbuttoned. Gaps in caulk and weather-stripping can account for a 10% of your heating bills, according to the U.S. Department of Energy.
Get the Chimney Cleaned
Have a professional clean and examine your chimney for any cracks, creosote buildup or necessary repairs. This applies to fireplaces as well as furnaces.
Every home should have at least one fire extinguisher rated for all fire types (look for an A-B-C rating on the label).
Tree & Shrubs
Have your trees inspected and call the power company to inform them of any limbs that may interfere with power lines, (they will come & determine if they need to be cut – usually for no charge). Check for weak or dead limbs that can break from freezing temperatures or heavy snow and cause damage to household structures. Now is also a good time for fall landscape maintenance-make sure shrubs and plantings do not block walkways & driveways when the snow starts to accumulate. You want to have good access to your house & entryways. You can also cover delicate plantings to protect them from harsh winter weather.
There may be additional items specific to your home, but following this list will give you a good start and help protect your home from most common costly repairs that result from New England winter weather.
If your home is on the market or coming on during the season, check off these items and home buyers will keep you on their list.