· Inspect roof coverings, flashings & chimney, and weatherproof as needed. An un-properly sealed roof can allow for leaks causing major damage throughout the entire structure. Look for missing and cracked caulk or sealing compound around vents, chimney, etc., and any loose items that may need to be refastened.
· Check windows and doors for cracks and gaps. Elimination of these problems through proper caulking and/or insulating can save you large amounts of energy needed to heat your house during the cold winter months.
· Caulk exterior joints around windows and doors. Properly sealing these joints will prevent a lot of potential heat loss resulting in substantial savings. Lay a bead of caulk along the joint and then smooth it out with a wet finger. This will provide a nice smooth look to your caulk and also help ensure complete coverage of the joint area.
· Thoroughly check siding for any damage caused during summer months. Missing or loose siding can allow for moisture to get behind other siding and into the structure which can cause damage.
· Winterize your air conditioner. Call a service professional to properly prepare your air conditioner for the winter months. Doing this can greatly prolong the life of the unit and keep it more efficient.
· Clean out gutters and downspouts. Clogged downspouts hold a lot of water which can eventually back up into the roof causing damage. Dig out bigger debris and flush downspouts out with a garden hose.
· Inspect water supply lines and valves to sinks and toilets for any leaks. Repairing as soon as possible saves a lot of water costs over time and helps prevent damage to wood and floor coverings. If leaks are discovered, call a qualified professional to come repair the problems as soon as possible. When feasible, temporarily close valves that allow water to where the leak is until the necessary repairs are made.
· Check pipes and drains for water leakage. Leaking pipes and drains can cause severe damage to your home. Contact a qualified professional to repair the problem. Some drains and pipes can be covered with duct tape to temporarily prevent or slow further leaking until the necessary repairs are made. However, this should NEVER be considered as a permanent fix for ANY leaks.
· Clean or replace furnace and humidifier filters. The general rule of thumb is considered every month, but installing a new furnace filter at least every season improves the efficiency of your furnace and the cleanliness of the air it circulates. Be sure to use replacements that are recommended by the manufacturer.
· Have furnace serviced by a qualified professional. Having your furnace professionally cleaned and inspected can increase the efficiency and life of the furnace.
· Make sure your home is properly insulated. There are several areas you need to look in your home (attic access hatch, above ceiling appliances, around the foundation, etc.) to determine if you have enough insulation. It is recommended that you hire a professional to inspect your home for you to help decide if you need to make changes.
· Check windows and doors for smooth operation. Clean and lubricate as necessary using light oil based lubricant.
· Test smoke detectors and replace batteries if necessary. In addition to checking detectors and replacing batteries, you should also review your emergency escape plans with your family.
· Prepare all necessary snow removal equipment for use. Give your snow blower a complete tune-up. By preparing the necessary items in advance, you will know you have the right tools, that they all are in proper working order and that you are ready when that first big snow storm hits.
· Check snow load on roof. Remove snow and ice wherever it is excessively built up, such as 6" or more. Snow and ice combine to put a lot of force on your roof which can cause leaks and potentially major structural damage. Clearing your roof soon after a fresh snowfall with a "roof rake", which can be purchased at your nearby hardware store, is easier since snow is not yet packed and it also helps prevent the opportunity for ice to build which is very difficult to remove.
· Check attic for leaks and make sure vents are not obstructed. Leaks and obstructed vents, which will trap excess moisture in the attic, can ruin insulation and cause damage to wood.
· Properly clean and salt/sand driveways and sidewalks. This is necessary to prevent hazardous conditions. In most cities it is required by city ordinance that you clear the sidewalk(s) on your property within a certain amount of time after a snow fall. A typical time frame is 48 hours. After that you could get a fine so inquire with your local municipality.
Don't let these preventable issues go under the radar. In this geographical area winter is a harsh season when it comes to affecting the performance and behavior of your homes systems and components. Start your to-do list now while the weather is still bearable!!