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Things You Can Inspect & Do to Your Home before Winter Hits

As a homeowner, you probably know that there are a handful of maintenance tasks you need to complete as you prepare for the harsh, winter conditions. But you may not have a carefully crafted and comprehensive list of tasks. Whether you’re making your list or want to compare your own against ours, here’s what we consider the essential must do’s for the home before winter hits.

Conduct a Roof Inspection
A professional roof inspection can identify roof damage while it still costs hundreds, instead of thousands, of dollars to fix. This inspection should also tell you the condition of your attic ventilation, key in preventing the formation of destructive ice dams. If you simply can’t come up with the $200-$300 fee, at the very least conduct your own visual inspection to look for signs of wear-and-tear.

Make it Green: The most energy-efficient roof really depends on your location. Metal roofing works best for warmer climates, but an upgrade to roof insulation is universally green and a great idea before winter hits.

Clean Your Gutters
Probably the most common and least neglected task of the bunch; don’t take your gutter cleaning for granted. Proper cleaning involves more than just throwing easy-to-reach leaves out of the channel. Flush your downspouts and keep an eye out for any signs of gutter deterioration.

Make it Green: Retrofit your gutters to collect rainwater and snowmelt next spring and summer to aid your lawn irrigation.

Insulate and Seal Windows
If you don’t already have double-pane windows, it’s time to jump on the bandwagon. With heating costs, few home improvements pay for themselves as quickly as replacement windows. And regardless of the number of panes, take a look at your window frame. It may need new sealant.

Make it Green: Truly green windows are more than just double-paned. Different glazes will allow you to use day lighting techniques, and window treatments will allow you to block the heat gain of next summer’s mid-afternoon sun.

Seal and Inspect Doors
Some homeowners pay so much attention to their windows that they forget their doors. Take a look at your entry door for air leaks and use weather stripping to help seal the joints. Take a look at your garage door, too, for both insulation and home security value.

Make it Green: A new wood door for the entry, garage, or both will increase your home’s curb appeal and it’s insulating R-value simultaneously.

Evaluate the Furnace/Heating System
This one has a ton of upside. Catching problems with your heating system before winter hits almost always saves a bunch of money and will give you some time to plan for a replacement system, if necessary. If nothing else, at least change the filter, no matter the age or condition of your heating system.

Make it Green: For replacement systems, start with the big ideas first. Get an estimate for geothermal heating and cooling. If that doesn’t pan out, take a look at split-system heat pumps or furnaces with an Energy Star label.

Winterize Your Landscaping
Just because you’ll be spending most of the winter indoors doesn’t mean all your maintenance is on the home itself. Properly close your swimming pool, winterize your sprinkler system, and prepare your garden for next year’s planting.

Make it Green: Take the winter to grade your personal landscaping conservation practices. Is it time to start composting? How much water would you save with a fully-automated sprinkler system? Is there a good spot to plant a new tree in the spring?

Miscellaneous and Emergency Preparation
For most homes, winter means the looming possibility of snow and/or ice storms. A back-up generator is a great idea, but still no substitute for an emergency kit, complete with food and water, a reliable radio, and first-aid kit. Investing in a snow blower isn’t a bad idea, either.