How to prepare your home for winter
HEATING – ALL SYSTEMS GO
Before you turn your heater on for the season, make sure you've fully inspected it to ensure that it hasn't been damaged over the summer.
Check any electrical components to ensure proper operation and inspect the heater for cracks that could produce dangerous carbon monoxide levels in your home. Finally, check the air flow to make sure that it is fully operating.
If you're not feeling very DIY this year, make an appointment with a professional who can perform maintenance tasks and give your heating unit a routine checkup.
If you haven't used your fireplace all summer—and why would you?—it's important to have a professional inspect your chimney and fireplace before you begin to use it. Regular fireplace cleaning is an important fire prevention method because with regular use, chimney flues can become lined with potentially hazardous materials.
PREVENT PLUMBING FREEZES
There are a lot of sources of water in the home that we might not think about on a daily basis. Before the first frost, drain all garden hoses, insulate any exposed plumbing pipes, drain air conditioner pipes, and, if your AC unit has a water shut-off valve, turn it off. Finally, locate your water main in the event you need to shut it off in an emergency and, if you're planning a long vacation around the holidays, make sure to set your thermostat to auto so that your home temperature won't drop too low and cause pipes to freeze or worse, burst.
PREP YOUR WINDOWS
If you live in a cold climate, extreme temperatures can have a detrimental effect on your windows. Before temperatures hit freezing, install storm windows and doors, and replace any screens or panes that are torn or cracked. Check all window frames and doors for cracks and seal any drafts with caulk or electrical tape until you can seek a more permanent fix.
HAVE AN emergency plan
While it's important to be prepared for inclement weather or natural disasters all year, it is more likely that severe weather will cramp your style when the temperatures drop. Prepare an emergency kit that includes indoor candles and watches, bottled water and non-perishable food items, phone numbers for your utility companies, spare batteries and extra blankets. Make sure all family members know where it is stored and keep it within reach of your children.