That nip in the air means it’s time to batten down the hatches against cool, wet and windy weather; my checklist can help protect your homes.
- Inspect roof and clean out gutters
- Stop leaks at the source by checking your roof for broken shingles or holes. Replace problem areas and seal with watertight caulk. While you’re up there, scoop out leaves and debris from the gutters.
- Winterize exterior faucets and sprinkler systems
- Insulate outdoor faucets with foam or towels held tight with a bungee cord. Drain water from irrigation or sprinkler systems and garden hoses to prevent freezing and cracking.
- Check snow and ice removal tools
- Make sure you have the necessary supplies to keep your properties safe, including salt for making sidewalks and paths walkable and a snowblower or shovel for clearing driveways.
- Secure snow-removal services
- Sometimes a shovel isn’t enough: If you live in an area that generally gets a lot of snow, line up a plow service. Look for a service that lets you pay as you go in case you don’t get the expected snowfall.
- Fertilize grass and mulch beds
- Mow and dethatch your lawn with a rake, aerate and fertilize. Apply fertilizer to beds as well, and then spread mulch. Water well to get the fertilizer into the soil to do its work. This is a good time to plant spring bulbs, like tulips and hyacinths, for added appeal,
- Trim flowers, plants and trees
- Cut back dead flowers and seed heads, and prune bushes and plants. Be on the lookout for trees that need trimming. Remove dead branches, and take out unstable trees.
- Check the water drainage in your yard
- Check outside areas for disconnected drain spouts and landscaping that slopes toward your foundation. Add sand or gravel to improve draining in low areas.
- Check window and door seals
- Check for drafts and air leaks to prevent heat escaping and cold air coming in. Caulk over trouble areas or call in a professional to replace a window or two if they are beyond repair.
- Make sure the furnace is working (and replace filters)
- Replace furnace filters, and check the connection between the furnace and the thermostat.
- Clean out air ducts
- Hire an HVAC professional to use negative pressure to clean out your ducts at least once a year.
- Have your fireplace and chimney checked
- If your properties have fireplaces, check for buildup and make sure the damper and flue are functioning properly. If needed, call a professional chimney sweep to come and clear soot and creosote to avoid accidental fires.
- Replace batteries in smoke and carbon monoxide detectors
- Make sure your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors are in tip-top shape by replacing the batteries every six months and testing them monthly.
- Check the dryer’s lint trap and ductwork, and clean out any built-up lint or debris.
- Wrap pipes to prevent freezing
- If you have pipes in chilly basements, exposed crawlspaces or accessible attics, insulate them with foam covers or towels.
- Add insulation to the attic and basement
- Add extra insulation to your attic ceiling and basement walls. You can use traditional insulation or spray-foam that acts as an instant barrier against freezing temperatures.