The nights have become chilly, people have closed their pools for the season and before you know it, we’ll be in the grips of Father Winter soon enough. It’s time to put summer to bed and be sure that your home is ready for what’s ahead. My number one priority is what I call “hassle avoidance” so any proactive measures I can take to be ready for the change of seasons is one step further away from having a crisis when it’s bitter cold and the snow is deep. Here are some tips to help you batten down the hatches:
- First thing is first, is your furnace clean and ready for the heating season? Do you need to order heating fuel, arrange to have the heating ducts or chimney cleaned? Call for servicing before the busy season hits. Wood stove owners are cutting or receiving wood and stacking away. Be mindful about stacking wood directly against your home, it’s an invitation for rodents and insects like termites to nest and is also a fire hazard.
- Drain and store hoses and check any outside faucets for leaks. Drain any underground sprinkler systems. Some outside water connections (like mobile homes or summer only cottages) may need to be hooked up with heating tape and insulation to keep pipes from freezing.
- Check for overgrown foliage which can damage siding or branches hanging over roofs or power lines. Trees or shrubs too close to your home are not only a good place for burglars to hide but can keep you from seeing damage to your foundation and make maintenance difficult
- Water can cause some of the most difficult problems so check windows, thresholds, and sills for any signs of unwanted water. Check that weather-stripping, caulk and glaze is in good shape and isn’t split or worn away.
- Clean gutters and downspouts. Plan ahead for ice dams buy purchasing a snow roof rake for lower roofs you can reach and by having the information handy for calling on the professionals in case of ice dams. You may remember last winter was nothing short of an ice dam nightmare for many home owners and can be very dangerous for you to try to resolve yourself. Ice dams cause roofs to leak which cause ceilings to leak and water can also flow down walls between studs and dry wall or lathe.
- All year round you should be prepared for power outages but especially so come winter. Check your supply of batteries, flashlights, candles, headlamps, camping lanterns and oil for oil lamps if you go old school. You should have an emergency preparedness kit on hand and a “go” bag packed. www.FEMA.gov and www.Ready.gov offer comprehensive information as well as the Red Cross, www.RedCross.org which has excellent emergency checklists.
- If you don’t have a carbon monoxide detector, now is the time to get one. Every winter it seems we hear of some tragic event where occupants die from exposure to carbon monoxide. Of course always have batteries on hand for both your carbon monoxide and smoke detectors. You’ll be changing them out at daylight savings time which ends November 6, 2016 at 2:00 am.
- Reverse your ceiling fans so the blades run in a clockwise fashion which will create an updraft to push hot air down.
- Run or drain the last bit of gas out of any lawn mowers, weed whackers or leaf blowers as gas that sits during the winter can cause mechanical problems come spring.
Lastly, as you put summer away, take notice of what summertime things you didn’t use at all this year and why. No one played badminton because the net was ripped and no one had the time to fix it? Maybe it’s time to let the broken net go and get a new one next spring. If no one had ambition to fix the broken Adirondack chair this summer, will it be any different next year? The sundresses, bathing suit or short shorts didn’t fit this year but by George they will next year! Perhaps so but will the elastic still be good, will they still be in a style that you’ll wear or will it just be depressing that they didn’t fit. As we swap out seasons, it’s a good time to lose the stuff you haven’t used, didn’t need and didn’t love.