December 15, 2015
Make sure your gutters and downspouts are clean and free of debris, wait until all the leaves are down so you only have to do this once. Clogged gutters and downspouts can trap water and freeze possibly leading to gutter damage.
Check all fireplaces and wood stoves for cleanliness and proper operation, make sure that the dampers open and shut correctly, check the firebox for cracking and loose mortar, inspect fire screen and fireplace doors to make sure they protect from embers coming out of the fireplace, lastly, hire a licensed chimney sweep to inspect and clean the fireplace and flue, this should be done every other year or so.
Make sure that all outdoor faucets and hose connections are properly drained and turned off at a point inside the house. If this is not possible you can install insulating covers over the faucet, make sure that they are installed tight to the exterior of the house. Hoses should be stored inside and not subjected to freezing temperatures. You might also want to turn off and drain any automatic irrigation systems.
Now is a good time to have the heating system inspected for proper operation by a licensed contractor, you should look for heat exchangers that are clean, rust free, and free of cracks. The contractor can also check boilers, radiators, and distribution lines. If your heating system is natural gas, fuel oil, or propane it is also a good idea to check for proper venting and carbon monoxide leaks. Be sure that filters and ductwork are clean.
Now is a good time to check for proper operation of all smoke alarms, test each one and if you haven’t replaced the batteries in a while, go ahead and do that now.
Check your driveways, masonry patios, and walkways for cracking, use a masonry caulk to repair any damaged areas found. This will prevent water from entering and freezing causing further damage.
Check your windows and doors for proper operation sealing and weather stripping. Drafty windows and doors can substantially raise your energy costs through the winter.
Trim any trees and branches that are extending over your home, these can become heavy from the weight of snow and ice and break causing roof or other damage to your home.
Pools and spas that are not used in winter should be winterized by a qualified contractor and covered to make opening them in the spring easier.
If your home has Gable vents you might want to consider covering these from the attic to preserve heat in the winter, just be sure to remove them as soon as the weather becomes warmer.