Tips for Fall Clean-up and Winterizing Your Home

It would be impossible to entirely prevent weather and seasonal elements form causing damage to your home. But routine maintenance in every season goes a long way toward helping you avoid big, costly problems—and even having to file a homeowners insurance claim.

As the colder weather approaches, you need to perform a few simple, routine home maintenance activities to prepare your home and property for winter and reduce the possibility for damage.

Consider the following tips for cleaning your yard and preparing your home for the winter months.

Leaves: Fallen leaves can kill grass and leaf piles can attract rodents. Clear and properly dispose of all accumulating leaves on your property.
Gutters and downspouts: Inspect and clean your gutters several times during fall and before winter sets in—especially if you have a lot of trees in your yard. Gutters and downspouts should direct water away from the foundation and away from walkways and driveways to avoid icing that could cause slips and falls.
Windows and doors: Seal gaps and cracks with weather stripping, caulk or door sweeps. If necessary purchase a plastic sheeting kit and place plastic around the windows to keep heat from escaping. Consider installing newer windows or doors if yours are aged and in bad shape.
Roof: Check for signs of sagging or curled shingles, or for corroded flashing or leaking vents. Replace any damaged or missing shingles.
Sidewalks, driveways and steps: Repair any damage that could lead to slips, falls and trips during slippery winter months.
Water supplies: Close your hoses, shut off the inside valves that control the water flow to the hose spigots, then drain any leftover water out of the pipes and hoses. Also be sure to drain any water supply lines for irrigation systems and pools, and turn off any inside valves that control them. Help prevent freezing by insulating pipes in unheated areas.
Furnace/heating system: Install a programmable thermostat if you don’t already have one. Inspect heating ducts and vents, and clear away anything that may have gotten into them over the summer months. Have a professional tune your furnace in order to reduce temperature variations, improve air quality and protect against dangerous carbon monoxide levels. Clean or replace dirty filter furnace filters, and continue to replace the filter every month during the winter.
Chimney and fireplace: Check your fireplace for soot or creosote build up, and have the chimney cleaned by professional chimney sweep. Be sure the fireplace damper closes tightly to prevent drafts. Clean and clear your fireplace before lighting the first fire of the season
Humidifier: Clean out your humidifier and be sure that it is working properly.
Smoke alarms: Test smoke and carbon monoxide detectors.
General cleanup: Dispose of old newspapers and properly dispose of hazardous household chemicals. Store flammable materials and poisons in approved, clearly labeled containers. Keep a clear space around heaters, furnaces, and other heat-producing appliances.