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Winterizing your home: 5 things to check

What goes around comes around, and before you know it, winter will be barreling toward us once again. It’s not something to dread if you love skiing…and if you’ve planned ahead by preparing your home for the colder, harsher weather that’s on the way.

For those who are new to the wonderful world of home ownership, an annual winterizing ritual can help you avoid unnecessary repair bills courtesy of Mother Nature. Those of you who have owned a home for a while are familiar with the drill, so the following tips won’t be anything new to you. But maybe they’ll inspire you to get started on your annual checklist if you haven’t already.

Here are 5 things to pay attention to (and fix if necessary) when preparing your home for winter. I’ll start with something that might surprise you:

Your Air Conditioner
Yep, it’ll be turned off for the next several months. But if you want your central air conditioning to work properly in the spring and summer when temperatures shoot back up again, you should cover the top portion of the outdoor unit with a piece of plywood or a trash bag to keep falling ice and other debris from collecting inside. Covering the entire unit can help keep it from looking weather beaten, but it can also prevent moisture from escaping and actually attract small animals to seek warmth within. Both scenarios can lead to mechanical failures, so be aware!

Your Heating System
Okay, this one is more obvious. Don’t wait until you really need it to find out if there’s a problem with your heating system. Do a test run before temps fall into the 50s or lower to make sure it’s generating warm air. Before winter is also a good time to change the air filters and the batteries in your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors.

Your Chimney
This is another part of your house where critters seeking warmth can cause problems, so you should check for nests that could be blocking the airflow. Since that involves climbing a ladder, consider hiring a chimney sweep to do the job and give your flue a professional cleaning in the process.

Your Roof
As we all know, heat rises. And when it rises inside your house during the winter, it warms up your roof. In snowy climates this can cause ice dams to form when the snow melts and drains toward your gutters, where it freezes again. To alleviate this potential issue, make sure your roof has enough vents to allow excess heat to escape, and that they’re working properly with no obstructions.

Your Outdoor Space
If the type of grass in your lawn calls for it, put down some winterizing fertilizer with the proper amounts of nitrogen and potassium. Apply some sealer to your wooden deck if it’s overdue for a treatment. Cover your patio furniture, or better yet, store it in a garage or shed if there’s room. Finally, buy some plastic and foam faucet covers to keep your outside water fixtures from freezing and your pipes from bursting.

Once your home is buttoned up for winter, you can focus on bundling yourself up with ugly sweaters and whatnot for the holidays. Have fun!


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