Checklist: Winter To-Dos for Homeowners

Thanksgiving is but a memory, and winter is in the air. It’s time to make sure your home is ready for the frosty months ahead.

Check Heating System

Ideally, the heating system should be checked mid-fall, but if that hasn’t happened, hire a pro to inspect the gas or oil burner, the heat exchanger and the air handler that blows the heat through the ducts into the house.

Cut Tree Limbs

Trim tree limbs threatening the house or other structures before the weight of heavy snow or ice causes them to fall. Call a professional to do the job If limbs are especially high or over a utility line.

Prepare for Winter Emergencies

If you live in an area with harsh winter weather, consider buying a generator. Stock an emergency kit with bottled water, nonperishable food, extra gloves, hats and other winter weather gear.

Prepare for Ice

Buy sodium chloride, or rock salt, to keep those icy steps and sidewalks safe. Rock salt works best for temperatures of 12 degrees or higher. For colder temps, calcium chloride has more staying power.

Test Holiday Decorations

When you pull out the holiday decorations, toss anything that no longer works. Consider replacing old incandescent lights with Light Emitting Diode, or LED lights. They are more expensive but save money over time with lower energy usage and longer life expectancy.

Inspect and Replace Pipe Insulation

Inspect the insulation on water pipes exposed to the outside elements and in unheated portions of the house, such as the attic and basement. Replace worn insulation with fresh covers. Cover outside faucets with insulating covers.

Clean the Fireplace and Chimney

If you haven’t had the chimney cleaned since last winter, hire a professional chimney sweep before using the fireplace. A flammable chemical residue called creosote can build up in the flue and catch fire.

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