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Time to Hunker Down: 5 Tips to Ready your Home for Winter

Joe KnowsThe nip of fall in the air is a real reminder that winter is on its way. There's no better time to ready your home for the icy weather ahead. Here are five major tips for getting you house prepared for the harsh onslaught of winter. 

1. Give Your Heating a Tune Up

Don't just trust that your heating system will work well after a few seasons off duty. Consulting a technician now will make sure your system is clean and working efficiently. Cut the waiting time and book your service in fall, as certified heating and air-conditioning contractors are always busiest in winter. Inspections typically cost between $80 and $100. 

Don't forget your chimney either. Ensuring your chimney and vents are clean and in good working order now will prevent chimney fires and carbon monoxide gas infiltrating your home in winter. Make sure you hire a sweep certified by the Chimney Safety Institute of America to get the job done right. Expect to pay between $50 and $90 for an inspection and between $100 and $300 if your chimney needs cleaning.

2. Prevent Ice Dams and Icicles

Ice is not nice...icicles are a telltale sign that ice dams may be forming on your roof

Image via Flickr by MichiganMoves

Ice dams and icicles cause millions of dollars in damage to American homes every year. Taking preventative steps now can prevent them forming later. Home-energy auditors and weatherization contractors can repair the air leaks and insulation issues that create these hazards. Booking in before the end of the year ensures you're eligible for a federal energy-efficiency tax rebate for 10 percent of the cost up to $500. Some utility providers and state governments also offer additional credits. 

3. Clean Out Your Gutters

Once fall leaves stop falling, it's time to clean out your gutters. When snow and ice mix with leaves it's a recipe for gutter and roof damage. Leaves are also one of the biggest causes of clogged gutters. Leafy debris will hold moisture and prevent sleet and snow from running off your roof which causes those dreaded icicles and ice dams. 

While you're cleaning up the leaf litter, keep your eyes peeled for missing or damaged gutters and fascia boards. Fall is a great time to replace these roof parts too.

4. Seal Your Windows and Doors

The average home loses around one third of its heat through windows and doors. Check for drafts, cracks, and gaps around all windows and doors this season. Replacing weather-stripping, caulking gaps, and making repairs will cut your energy waste and the bill from your electricity provider. Silicone caulk works best for exterior use as it's shrink-proof and resistant to the elements.

5. Drain Your Outdoor Water Systems

Drain the water in your irrigation systems and outdoor spigots to ensure it doesn't freeze inside once winter hits. Ice expands as it hardens, so it could cause your pipes to burst. It's easy to drain your faucet, but draining sprinkler systems is a job best left to the professionals. Expect to pay between $50 and $150, depending on the size of your sprinkler system. 

Your lawns and gardens will happily survive the season without watering technology. Evaporation rates are much lower than during the summer months so natural rainfall is usually enough to keep your property green.

Don't let this winter's frosty conditions put you out in the cold. The measures you take now can ensure your home is a haven once the cold snap hits.