Although Labor Day seems like the beginning of fall, a week from tomorrow (September 23rd) is the season’s official first day. Since there’s still plenty of great autumn weather ahead, it’s a perfect time to get your home ready for winter’s harsh blasts.
Even though prepping your home is work, on the bright side, most of it can be accomplished in a single weekend:
1. Check your home’s heating system. This is probably the most critical element of preparing your home for winter. Install a new, clean air filter. Next, test your furnace by turning it on and setting the thermostat to 80 degrees. It should turn on and begin to blow warm air. lf it seems it’s not running properly, have it checked by a service technician. Check your exhaust vents, making sure they are open and free of obstructions. Install carbon monoxide and smoke detectors if you haven’t already.
2. Inspect your chimney. Have your fireplace’s chimney cleaned by a professional chimney sweep if it has been a few years. Make sure your damper opens and closes properly. Inspect the fire bricks in your chimney for any damaged mortar joints and, if missing, have them repaired immediately.
3. Check your gutters, downspouts and drainage. Make sure gutters and downspouts are clean, with no clogs or debris stopping water flow. Be sure rainwater can move away from your home and not drain back toward the foundation. Install downspout extenders if needed. Water running back toward your foundation can lead to a wet basement.
4. Inspect your roof. Check for missing or damaged shingles and replace them when needed. Inspect the flashings around the chimneys and vents. Hire someone to inspect your roof if you’re not comfortable doing it yourself.
5. Winterize your water pipes and exterior water faucets. Check the piping in uninsulated spaces, such as attics, crawlspaces and exterior walls. At a minimum, insulate them with foam insulating sleeves. Wrapping them with electrical heating tape before you insulate them is ideal. Turn off the water supply to your exterior faucets if possible, and remember to disconnect garden hoses and drain them.
6. Caulk and seal doors and windows. Check the outside trim and molding around doors and windows, Fill any gaps with a good quality exterior caulk. Check the tracks of windows and patio doors for debris that might prevent a good seal. On a windy day, check for air leaks around the edges of doors and windows. If leaks are detected around doors, replace weather-stripping, including the door sweep at the bottom. Use rope caulk to seal gaps on windows.
7. Get your lawn ready for winter and success in the spring. Give your lawn a thorough fertilizing, and aerate it. Gradually lower the cutting height of your lawnmower each time you mow.
8. Winterize your lawn equipment. Drain the gas before you put away your lawn equipment. Over time, gas goes bad, decomposing and “shellacking” carburetors, causing your equipment to run poorly in the spring.
9. Don’t forget you’ll be removing snow and dealing with ice. Fire up your snowblower to make sure it’s working properly. Make sure you have a snow shovel and some salt or ice-melter handy, too. You know they’ll be sold out when the first storm hits.
Days will be getting shorter and shorter, and the temperatures will drop. A little work now could save you a lot of time, discomfort and maybe even money in the long run, not to mention the security of knowing you’ve got everything ready for winter’s fury.
Cheryl Parson is president of the Better Business bureau serving West Central Ohio. The BBB may be found on the Internet at www.lima.bbb.org.