Winter sneaks up on homeowners every year. The variable weather of the autumn season where it wavers back and forth between cool and warm lulls everyone into thinking it will stay that way. On the warm days, you want to get out and enjoy the sunshine. On the chilly days, you want to stay inside. Then, it suddenly gets cold and stays that way until spring. Do not let your window of opportunity to prepare your home for the winter months pass you buy this year. Here is a checklist of things to go through while you can still comfortably work outdoors.


Seal out the Drafts


Caulking and expanding foam sealants will not work properly if you try to use them when it really gets cold outside. Take advantage of the mild temperatures of fall days to seal around doors and windows. Closely inspect every crack and seam all over the exterior of your home. If you cannot inspect the flashing and sealants around chimneys or roof vents, get a professional to take a look. The winter temperature changes, and dry air will allow small cracks to widen. You want to seal out drafts to save energy, and you want to make sure your roof does not let a drop of water through.


Put Your Plants to Bed


If you have had any winter damage for perennials or evergreens from last year, take steps to prevent it from happening again this year. Arborvitae bushes and trees are an example of a plant that is highly susceptible to damage from ice and heavy snows. You can wire the thin trunks to each other to give more overall support. Trim them to reduce the surface area subject to snow loads. Climbing rose canes that cover arbors or archways should be detached, laid on the ground and covered with a thick layer of straw mulch. Cut back other perennial plants and protect their rootstock with straw mulch. Also, fertilize your lawn with a special winter feed mix.


Be Proactive About Potential Winter Chores


You do not want to have to be outdoors trying to climb a ladder to replace a bulb in an outdoor light fixture in the middle of winter. If your motion-detector and other outdoor lighting fixtures have old incandescent bulbs, this is a great time to replace them with new energy efficient LED bulbs that last for thousands of hours. Also, winter rains and snow melt can wreak havoc on leaf-clogged gutters, so it is important to make sure they are clean before the first freeze. Make sure patio and driveway drains are clear to prevent ice problems. If you notice an outdoor fix that needs taken care of soon, get it done before the weather turns nasty. Procrastination can end up costing you more money and much more in the way of aggravation if you have to end up doing the work when the weather is at its worst.


Inspect and Get Your Heat Source Ready


If you live in a mild climate, you furnace may be an electric heat pump. Other sources of heat are natural gas, propane, oil and wood. For whatever method you use to heat your home, make sure it is inspected and ready to go for the winter season. You should show extra caution for all sources of heat that burn fossil fuel for energy as carbon monoxide is a byproduct of combustion. It is a safety necessity to have your source of heat inspected by a professional whether it is inspecting the heat exchanger of a gas furnace or the firebox, flue and chimney of a woodburner. Residential fires spike in the fall and winter months mainly due to issues with home heating appliances. Keep your family safe by making sure your home heat source is cleaned and inspected. Also, if you have forced-air heat, change the filters every 30 days.


Winter can be a tough season, but you can tame it by taking charge of getting your home and property ready now while the temperatures are still mild. Fall is also the perfect time to install a thicker layer of insulation in attic spaces. You can comfortably work in an attic when the outdoor temperatures are lower, and adding a layer of insulation is an easy DIY project that can save you money on your home heating and cooling bills.


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