The colder seasons can be hard on your house—that’s why you need to prepare ahead. Gutters, roof and insulation all need attention. Here are 10 things to check to save yourself a headache later! After all, prevention is key!
- Clean up and put things away
To get everything ready for the reappearance of sunshine next year, clean and put away your outdoor furniture, such as flower boxes, the barbecue and whatever you took out of storage for the summer season.Drain your garden hose and shut the outdoor taps. If you store your barbecue indoors, remember to leave the propane tank outside, in a safe spot.With this end of season clean-up out of the way, everything will be clean and ready to use come spring.
- Give your roof a once-over
Take the time to inspect your roof to determine what kind of shape it’s in and whether there is any damage that needs to be repaired. You can also enlist the services of an expert to give you an accurate picture. If you (or the roofing specialist) spot any problems, get the necessary repairs done quickly because you never know when the first serious snowfall will hit. And once the roof is covered in snow the most minor repair becomes very complicated. What’s more, when the snow begins to melt, water can seep into the damaged areas, causing you major headaches!
- Check the gutters
Once you’re taking the trouble to climb up onto your roof to inspect it, take the opportunity to check your gutters. Leaves and other debris can accumulate, clogging the gutters and preventing rain water or melting snow from draining properly. Cleaning them out can help you avoid any problems in the wake of heavy rain or melting snow.First remove the largest pieces of debris, typically piles of leaves. Then use your hose to clean out any remaining mud and small debris stuck inside the gutters.
- Do the necessary maintenance on your fireplace or woodstove
Even if you only use it once in a while, it’s essential to maintain your fireplace or woodstove so you can safely enjoy the warmth it provides. Whether you do it yourself or call in a professional, it’s important to do a thorough cleaning of any kind of auxiliary heating system and make sure it’s in good working order. You should always make sure that the room in which it’s located is well ventilated whenever you’re building a fire, and you should consider installing a carbon monoxide detector near your fireplace.With a well-maintained fireplace or woodstove, you’ll be prepared for the onset of chilly weather.
- Inspect your house
Take a few minutes to look around your home to see if any cracks have appeared or if there is any damage to the exterior. Pay special attention to the foundations and the exterior cladding. Having cracks repaired by a professional will prevent water seepage in the event of heavy rains or thaw.
- Protect your outdoor plants
To protect any shrubs in your yard that might have difficulty withstanding the rough weather over the next few months, give them some shelter.A wide variety of products exists to protect plants for the winter. But it’s best to begin by learning more about the particular requirements of the plants in your yard. Some of them probably don’t need any special attention and will make it through to spring unharmed. Other species, however, don’t cope nearly as well with wind, cold and the weight of snow and ice, and they need more tender loving care. Before rushing out to buy landscape fabric or jute, do a little online research to find out more about the needs of your plants, or contact a gardening expert. You’ll save time and money in addition to ensuring that your yard is in good shape for next spring.
- Double check the insulation of your doors and windows
While the weather is still mild, have a look at the insulation of your home’s doors and windows. Over time, caulking dries out, resulting in shrinkage and cracks which makes it less airtight. Recaulking a few joints as needed will prevent drafts on cold autumn days and especially during the winter. Installing weather stripping is one simple, quick and economical way to prevent cold from entering your home uninvited. And it can reduce your electricity bill too!
- Test your heating system
Test your heating system and equipment to see if there are any parts to be replaced or repairs to be done. It’s best to find out before the temperature outside plummets to -30oC! And while you’re at it, a once-over with the vacuum cleaner will get rid of all the dust that has accumulated over the summer. For electric radiators, it’s advisable to vacuum the inlets and outlets twice a year.
- Check your smoke detectors
Checking your smoke detectors is a piece of advice you probably hear all the time. But, unfortunately, it’s all too often forgotten. Make sure you’re detectors are in good working order and change the batteries if necessary. A good way to remember to perform this essential bit of maintenance is to replace the batteries each time you set the clocks forward in the spring and back in the fall.Complete maintenance on your smoke detectors involves more than changing the batteries: you can also gently vacuum them inside and out. Remember that electric detectors should never be opened, so simply clean the exterior.Also, you should test the detectors every month. To help you remember to do that, assign the task a regular date, like the first or last day of the month.
- Keep certain tools close at hand
Remember all those rakes, shovels, snow shovels and bags of salt, gravel or other ice-melters and abrasives that you tossed to the back of the basement, the cellar or the garage last spring? Go get them and put them near your entranceway. You’ll be very glad to have them handy on that cold winter morning when you open your door and find your steps covered in ice!