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WINTERIZE YOUR HOME FOR COMFORT AND SAFETY

by Chris Fritch

Yes, it’s about that time. Like the responsible homeowner you are, you did all the right things in early spring to prepare your home for summer living. Now, as the season fades into fall, it’s time to get it ready for the winter. If you have a family, the chances are that your home has seen a whole lot of living during the past few months. To determine how much work you’ll have to do (inside and out), take a cursory glance around. Now put on your work gear and get to it!

OUTDOORS
It’s probably best to go from top to bottom, as you likely would with your house cleaning.

• Survey your roof and check for damage or defects. Tighten up any loose shingles and replace the ones that are split, curled or otherwise unserviceable. If the roof is in especially bad shape, or if you’re not comfortable with heights, you might want to call a professional roofer. Also remember to check the flashing around the chimney, skylights, and pipes.
• Clean the leaves and debris from the gutters and downspouts, checking their condition as you do. Be particularly mindful of any spots where ice dams can form.
• While you’re up there on the ladder, inspect the soffits and gable vents for possible access points, that is, unless you’re planning to turn your attic into a bird and wildlife refuge.
• Assuming you’ve flushed out your downspouts, you’ll also want to make sure the water drains away from the house. Ideally, the soil should rise 6 inches up and 10 feet out to prevent saturation around the foundation, which can result in cracks and leaks.
• Trim your scraggly bushes and dead branches. Greenery should be at least 3 feet away from your roof and siding. A heavy ice storm or a good, stiff wind can be all it takes to bring the outdoors inside.
• If your house looks like it could use a coat of paint, the fall is a good time to lay it (or spray it) on, while the temperatures are cooler and less humid than they have been all summer. While you’re at it, check the windows and doors, as they might need fresh caulking and weather stripping.
• Replace the screens with storm windows and doors.
• Unless you have a mulching mower, rake up the leaves so that they don’t choke your lawn. If you have a compost pile, put them there, along with your spent annuals and early-season veggies that are no longer producing. Otherwise, you can use the yard waste to mulch your beds.
• When you know you don’t absolutely need them anymore, store your garden hose and drain the irrigation system and any outdoor pipes.
• Clean and store your garden tools. Also, clean the lawn mower and ready it for storage. It wouldn’t hurt to add some fuel stabilizer to the tank to keep the leftover gas healthy through the winter. Run it through the mower for about five minutes to make sure it gets to the carb. When the engine cools, pull the spark plug and dribble a capful of motor oil into the hole. Pull the starter cord a few times to distribute the oil and lubricate the pistons. That will ensure a pain-free start when you bring the mower out in the spring.

INDOORS
Aside from regular house-cleaning duties, you also should be winterizing the great indoors. A few simple steps will keep your house safe and warm, as well as avoid service calls in the dead of winter.

• Make sure the insulation in your attic is in good shape. If not, replace it. Also look around for signs of critters that may have gotten in.
• Caulk the windows inside if they necessary. The slightest draft can equal a substantial chunk of your heating bill.
• Have a qualified technician inspect your furnace and clean the ducts. Replace your furnace filter, remembering to do so each month.
• Sweep up behind and underneath the clothes dryer and clean out the exhaust duct. (By the way, your compost pile is a good place for dryer lint.)
• If you have a wood-burning fireplace, clean it, at least the parts you can reach. Especially if you’ve been using it regularly over the years, you ought to have the chimney inspected and cleaned by a professional. Accumulated birds’ nests, leaves, limbs and creosote can spell disaster, if not by fire then by carbon monoxide. A few hundred dollars is a minimal cost to keep your family alive.
• Always check the batteries in your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors. If you can’t save your house, you can at least save yourselves.
• Check the health of your electrical outlets. Loose connections can not only fry your computers, but they can also cause electrical fires. Be sure no outlet is overloaded; winter seems to be a particularly busy time for firefighters.
• It’s not a bad idea to keep a multipurpose fire extinguisher or two on hand. Make sure they’re charged up and ready to use. These tasks may seem bothersome at first, and no one can blame you for heaving a sigh of reluctance. On the other hand, a little attention is a small price to pay for your family’s safety and comfort.

Brought to you by the Chris Fritch Team Keller Williams Classic Realty 763-746-3997

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