- Furnaces – regular annual furnace inspections will help keep your furnace in good repair. Cleaning or replacing furnace filters monthly during the operating months will also keep your furnace operating efficiently.
- Wood-burning fireplaces – periodic cleanings should be performed by a chimney sweep to remove soot and creosote buildup to prevent chimney fires.
- Inspect windows for leaks – replacing cracked or old windows, or sealing air leaks, will not only make the winter months more comfortable, but will also lower the costs of heating your home. Replacement windows not only keep you warmer in the winter, but help keep your home cooler in the summer when air conditioning is in use.
- Evaluate smoke detectors and related safety equipment – the ending of daylight savings time is an ideal time to replace batteries in smoke detectors, flashlights, and any other battery-powered safety or emergency equipment. It is also a good time to evaluate existing smoke detectors, carbon monoxide detectors and fire extinguishers in terms of lifespan and whether they provide an adequate level of coverage. Smoke detectors and fire extinguishers are generally considered to have a lifespan of 10 years, whereas carbon monoxide detectors have a lifespan generally ranging from 2 to 5 years. Beware that batteries in the carbon monoxide detectors may still function after the actual carbon monoxide sensor has ceased being operational.
Take a walk around your property with an eye for the following:
- Hoses/hose bibs – it is important to disconnect and drain your garden hoses and either wrap hose bibs or cover them with insulating covers to prevent freezing pipes. A quick inspection for other exposed pipes that may need insulating will prevent the headache of dealing with broken pipes later.
- Sprinkler systems –sprinkler systems will need to be drained to prevent water from freezing and causing cracked or broken pipes. You may be able to drain the water yourself, or you may hire a professional to winterize it by blowing the water out of your system with an air compressor.
- Roof – inspect your roof for any loose, missing, worn or damaged shingles, tiles or other roofing material and have any needed repairs made immediately to prevent water damage and expensive emergency calls to a roofer.
- Clean your gutters and downspouts – after leaves and other tree debris has fallen and collected in your gutters, it will be important to clean the gutters and downspouts to prevent water from backing up and causing water damage or overflowing during winter storms.
- Landscaping – an application of winter fertilizer to lawns will promote stronger roots and help produce a healthier lawn in the spring. Determine if plants require special preparation. Some may need to be trimmed, others may require additional composting materials around their roots to protect them during freezing temperatures, and others will need to be moved to a sheltered area or indoors. This is also a good time to plant spring bulbs like tulips and daffodils.