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Colors are changing, leaves are falling, and Old Man Winter is right around the corner. Autumn is the best time to prepare your home for the rain, snow, sleet, and ice.
Remember: It's important that you begin to winterize your home before winter arrives to prevent weather damage. If you fail to act in time, you may be in for some hefty repair bills. As the saying goes: an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.
Step #1: Clean the Gutters
Once the leaves begin to fall, you will need clear gutters to allow rain and melting snow to properly drain. Clean out gutters by scooping out loose debris, washing out the gutter with a hose, and flushing out the downspouts. Clogged drains can lead to ice dams, where backed up water freezes and causes water to seep into the house. Another option you might consider is installing gutter covers which allow water to flow through, but keep leaves and other debris out, saving you time and hassle in the future.
Step #2: Insulate Pipes
Cold weather can spell disaster for exposed pipes. And as anyone who has experienced it already knows, a burst pipe can be a nightmare. To protect your pipes, wrap and insulate them with heating tape. Check for leaks and cracks so that minor repairs can be made before Jack Frost causes major damage.
Step #3: Trim Tree Branches
Winter storms can pack quite a punch, sometimes powerful enough to knock down tree branches and other debris. Falling limbs can damage homes, cars, or even innocent bystanders. Autumn is a great time to check your trees and other landscaping for weak branches. Trim branches that hang over your home or that look as though they may snap. If the branches are out of reach, you may need to contact a tree service to cut them for you.
Step #4: Insulate Your Home
Cut heating costs this winter by checking the insulation in attics and basements. Proper insulation keeps heat from escaping and keeps your home warmer. The Insurance Information Institute recommends that attics be kept 5 to 10 degrees warmer than the outside air to prevent snow from melting and re-freezing, which can cause significant damage to your roof. Well-insulated basements can help prevent pipes from freezing.
Step #5: Clean Out Chimneys, Furnaces, Boilers and Heaters
Before winter arrives, have your chimney, boiler or furnace checked. Servicing them once a year can prevent smoke and other damage to your home, helping to ensure your home stays warm. Make sure to keep your home's temperature at 65 degrees or higher to prevent pipes from freezing.
Step #6: Seal Windows and Doors
Make sure that your windows and doors are properly sealed by double-checking the weather stripping. Use weather stripping and caulking around windows and doors to prevent heat from escaping in cold months, saving you money on your energy bill. This is also the time to put up storm windows, if necessary.
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