With the end of summer, people are turning their furnaces on again to keep their houses warm. While that first gust of warm, dusty air might be as much of a sign of the start of winter as the changing of the leaves. It should also be a reminder that it’s time to get the house ready for the cold months.
- Service the furnace and other heat-generating features. Replace the filter in the furnace. The exact dimensions are printed on the side and are sold at virtually any hardware store. Clean the fireplace and make sure the flue operates correctly. If it has been more than five years since getting the chimney cleaned, call a cleaning company and have them inspect the cap for defects in the bricks. Clean any space heaters or radiant heat devices per appliance instructions. Either install smoke and carbon monoxide detectors or change the batteries in existing ones.
- Police doors and windows. Run a hand over the spaces around doors to feel if air is moving in or out, be prepared to use weather strip to close the gaps. Do the same around windows, be ready to caulk spaces or replace glass. As an added protection from cold intrusion, cover the windows with heat-shrink plastic.
- Close down the outside. Remove screens and replace with storm windows if you have them. Look for cracks in brickwork and places where utilities enter the house and seal where necessary. Turn off all water leading to exterior water faucets before freezing weather sets in. Clear out gutters and check for missing shingles in the roof.
- Get the tools ready. Drain the gas out of the lawnmower and other gas tools. Get all of the summer tools stashed away and put the snow shovels close to the front of the garage. Buy ice melt or salt before the snow starts to fly. If you have a snow blower, get it serviced (oil change, new spark plugs) and make sure it starts easily. If you don’t have a snow blower and don’t want to shovel, secure a contract with a plowing service before you actually need it.
- Prepare for bad times. Even the best neighborhoods can lose power, so keep an emergency kit with flashlights, radios and the batteries needed to run them. Keep a good supply of candles and jugs of water. Gas powered generators that can run several appliances are made to run for days on end and cost between $300 on the low side and $3,500 on the high side for portable units.