Clean and store outdoor furniture
While most outdoor furniture is weatherproof and durable, it’s best to store your furniture indoors to protect it against the harsh Northeast winter weather. Wind, snow, ice and rain can take its toll on your furniture, causing premature wear-and tear. Clean your furniture, cushions and umbrella according to the manufacturer’s instructions before putting them away. Usually all that is needed is a damp, soft cloth to wipe away any dust and dirt. Once completely dry, place the cushions in plastic bags, sealing them to protect them from dirt, dust and mold. Store your cushions, furniture and umbrella in the garage or shed. If you’re concerned about mice or other critters getting into your umbrella or cushions, store them in the basement or attic. If you don’t have any room indoors to store large pieces of furniture, keeping them outdoors is o.k. as long as you cover them securely with heavy-duty, weatherproof furniture covers.
Drain and store garden hoses
Turn off all outdoor water valves and drain all the water out of garden hoses at the end of the season. Water left inside may freeze, causing the material to rupture as the ice expands. Store hoses indoors in a coiled position on a shelf or dedicated hose hanger to prevent kinks from developing. Avoid hanging hoses on nails as kinks can form, leading to tears and rips in the rubber material.
Clean gutters and downspouts
Having clean gutters not only improves the appearance of your home, it helps prevent costly water damage. When too many leaves or debris collects inside gutters, water has nowhere to run. Clogged gutters can lead to siding damage, basement floods and gutter corrosion. Clearing your gutters of debris is also important to help prevent the build-up of ice on your roof. The faster that water can drain away, the less likely it is to melt and then refreeze on your roof or under your shingles. Also, make sure the downspouts are carrying water at least 10-feet away from the house's foundation, where it could cause flooding and other water damage.
Once most of the trees lose their leaves, check for branches that may interfere with power lines or come too close to the roof. Take time now to trim any weak branches that look as if they could cause problems during winter storms.
Check windows and doors for air leaks
Keep the cold air out of your house and the heat in by checking for air leaks around windows and doors. A quick way to check if cold air is coming in is to move a lighted candle along the edges of windows, doors and moldings. If the flame flickers or bends, you have an air leak that needs to be repaired. Sealing these leaks with caulk, spray foam, or weather stripping will have a great impact on improving your comfort and reducing your utility bill.
Install storm windows and doors and remove screens
Before storing your screens for the season, clean and repair them. To help make the installation process easier in the spring, label each screen to identify which room and specific frame (upper or lower) the screen fits.
Have chimneys inspected
In addition to increasing the heating efficiency of your fireplace, an annual maintenance and cleaning also helps to ensure your family’s safety during the winter months. Having the fireplace chimney, as well as the furnace chimney cleaned every year helps to eliminate the risk of fire in your home. A professional will ensure the chimney is free of creosote (a residue that builds up on the chimney's inner walls and can cause fires), as well as soot and other debris.
Have your furnace inspected
Have a professional come and inspect the furnace and perform any required maintenance. Regular maintenance along with periodic checkups is essential for the continued safe and efficient operation of your furnace. Don’t wait until the temperatures plummet. Make sure your furnace is working properly before the winter hits.
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