Safety first. Hire a professional to check your furnace if you skipped it in the spring. Don’t wait until you turn the switch and nothing happens. Change your furnace filter every month to keep the air in your home clear of dust and allergens. If you have a fireplace, have the chimney cleaned, making sure there are no birds or critters calling your flue home. Check your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors to make sure they work and the batteries are fresh. Look at exhaust fan covers to make sure they haven’t broken during the summer. The pipe into your bathroom exhaust fan makes a fantastic home for birds looking to come in from the cold.
Check your snow blower and get fresh gas. Keep snow removal equipment at the front of the garage for easy access. Check your shovel to make sure it isn’t broken and purchase a good supply of salt or sand. If you have pets, purchase salt that won’t hurt the tender pads on their feet. Bring gardening tools inside and spray them with a thin coating of lightweight oil to prevent rust. Empty gas out of your lawn mower and clean off mud and other debris.
For a good video on other things to think about, click here.
Take a walk around the outside of your house looking for holes where mice can get in and heat can escape. Check to see if you need to caulk or weatherstrip doors or windows and touch-up bare spots on wood trim to keep it from rotting. If you have them, switch the screens to storm windows. Look at your gutters and downspouts to make sure they are tightly fastened and not sagging. The weight of snow and ice could pull them off the house. While you’re looking, you may as well clean the gutters. Make sure downspouts extend at least five feet from the house so that you don’t incur water damage when the snow melts. Clear all storm drains to prevent flooding. Check your attic, basement and crawl space for leaks and use a sealant to plug any that you find.
Clean out the garage so that your car actually fits inside. That way you won’t have to spend cold winter mornings dusting off your windshield. Clean your patio furniture and pack it where it won’t be exposed to the elements. Take in the hose and make sure all exterior faucets are off. Drain water from outdoor pipes, valves and sprinkler heads to protect them from bursting. Clean between the boards of your wood deck to stop mold and mildew growth. Make sure all your exterior light bulbs work and fixtures are clean for those dark afternoons when you are coming home in the semi-darkness. Secure handrails and check for rotten wood on steps. Those should be replaced as soon as possible to avoid a nasty fall. Dump soil from planters and bring clay pots inside so that they don’t break. Dig up flower bulbs, brush off the dirt and store in a bag or box with peat moss. Don’t forget to label the container so you know what you are planting next year.
For more tips on keeping your house in good shape this winter, check out this article from The National Association of Realtors.