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Winter is coming: 5 things that should be on every homeowner's to-do list

Like it or not, winter is just around the corner. Take advantage of any remaining decent weekends to knock some items off your punch list at home.

1. Change your furnace filter. Before you run the heat all winter long, make sure that you have a clean filter in the furnace. This can improve the efficiency of your furnace and help to maintain your indoor air quality during those long winter months when you might be spending more time inside. If you notice the build up of significant amounts of dust or mold within your air ducts, you may want to consider having your air ducts cleaned as well.

2. Clean your gutters and downspouts. It's not a pretty job - in fact, it can be pretty disgusting - but getting rid of all the leaves and debris in your gutters is really important to protect your home. All that gunk will freeze over when the temperatures drop, and gutters full of ice can't properly funnel the water off your roof. Backed up gutters can form ice dams, which are the number one cause of leaky roofs in cold weather climates.

3. Seal your concrete. Thoroughly clean surfaces, then spray or roll a coat of sealer on your concrete driveway and sidewalks before the snow flies. Fresh sealer in the fall will prevent water from penetrating the concrete and causing cracks or pops. It also helps to protect your concrete surfaces from salt and road grime. If you want to be extra kind to your concrete, consider using calcium chloride as an ice-melt in place of traditional salt. It's gentler and less likely to damage concrete.

4. Clean and inspect your chimney flue. If you have a wood burning fireplace or a wood stove, check your chimney flue prior to lighting your first fire of the season. Look for any cracks or damage in the structure, or blockages such as critter nests. Even if those things look good, it is still wise to schedule a chimney cleaning. Creosote, by-product of wood fires, naturally builds up in chimneys over time and is highly-flammable. If creosote within your chimney was to ignite, it could potentially burn your house down.

5. Service your snow equipment. Don't wait until you first need to use it to service your snowblower or snow plow. You never know when that first big snow will hit. Prepare your snow removal gear well in advance so that you're not caught in a bind. Start up your snowblower, check the oil and air filter, change the spark plug, and look over all the bolts/fasteners and plates.

#winter #homemaintenance

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