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Winter will be underway before we know it, and now is the time to prep your home for the cold and take care of any upkeep you’ve been putting off. While the temperatures are still mild, make sure to check these items off your home maintenance list.
Gutters and Drains
Clean out your gutters and downspouts from all leaves and debris. This will help prevent water from pooling and causing damage, and it will prevent pests from making a home in the accumulated leaves. Even if you have gutter guards, it’s a good time to ensure they’re in working order. Note: you’ll want to do this step once all the leaves have fallen to ensure your gutters are clean for the winter.
HVAC Filters and Vents
To make sure your HVAC will run optimally, clean out both your supply and return vents (the vents that pull air in rather than push it out), clean ducts, and replace the filter in your furnace.
On a related note, it’s worth it to give your heating system a spin before you need it to work. You don’t want to be shivering in your house on the first cold day of winter, waiting for a technician. As for your air conditioning, outdoor covers are not necessary and can actually be harmful, as they can allow for mold to grow and pests to take refuge. Check the manufacturer’s recommendations, but you likely won’t need to cover your AC unit.
If you have a gas or wood fireplace, you should have your chimney cleaned and inspected every year in order to prevent a chimney fire. Check to make sure your flue is working and able to seal properly, as well, to help keep cold air out when your fireplace isn’t in use.
Dryer Vents catch clothing fibers, lint, and debris that is built up during the dryer cycle. If not cleaned, these materials can easily catch fire. While the frequency of how often to clean your vent varies per household, the average home will need a professional cleaning at least once a year. Since during winter you likely tend to use heavy clothing and heavier bedding, more lint and fiber buildup is possible. It would be wise to enter this winter with a freshly cleaned dryer, to avoid disaster, and to also increase the life of your machine and reduce drying time.
Doors and Windows
If you have older windows, they may not have the tightest seal. Applying weather-stripping is a great way to keep drafts out and keep your energy costs down in the winter. You should also take this time to inspect and repair any loose or damaged door or window frames and screens.
One tip for finding drafts: hold a lit candle or stick of incense near the window and watch to see if the smoke is pulled out of it. If it is, the warm air you pay for will be doing the same this winter!
Check for damage to the roof, ventilation screens, siding and foundation so you can make or schedule any necessary repairs before it gets too cold and before the weather can exacerbate the damage.
Lawn and Garden
Many people might think they’re done with lawn care for the year once temperatures begin to dip, but fall is actually a great time to do yard maintenance. Consider aerating and dethatching your lawn at this time, as well as spraying for weeds. Make sure you’re raking regularly, too, to allow the grass to breathe; better yet, you can dice the leaves up with your mower so they turn into a free lawn fertilizer.
Before it gets too cold, you will also want to disconnect and drain your hoses, then take them inside. If you have a sprinkler system, drain it and dry it with compressed air. Consider hiring a professional for this.
Check smoke and CO detectors and replace batteries if needed. Replace any old alarms; typically, they need to be replaced after 5 or 10 years, but you should check the manufacturer’s instructions.
Keeping your home in good shape is an important responsibility of any homeowner and is especially important if you ever plan to sell your house. Whether you’re prepping for your first or fifteenth winter in your home, this checklist is a good starting point.
Disclaimer: The tips above are intended as a general guideline on fall home maintenance. Check with the manufacturer of the products in your home on how to care for them properly and when to replace them.
Editor’s note: information in this article was sourced from the Star Tribune and the UMN Extension.