Freeport 815-235-2111 — Galena 779-214-0461 — Galena Territory 815-777-3100

Ready or not fall is here and that means winter isn’t far behind. Take advantage of the beautiful weather now to get your home ready for winter. If you are a new homeowner, you may not know what you need to do to get your home ready for winter.  If you have owned your home for a while, this will be a good refresher.

Let’s start with the exterior of the house. Take a walk around the outside of your home and see if you notice any peeling paint. This is a sign that your paint’s finish is failing and can no longer protect the wood underneath. Scrape and re-paint now before it leads to a bigger problem. Look up at your roof from all angles. Do you see any loose or missing shingles? This may be a sign that it’s time for a new roof and you should have a roofer inspect it now before it is covered in snow and ice. Don’t forget to check your gutters and downspouts. They probably need a good cleaning to get rid of built up leaves and debris. Clogged gutters can lead to ice jams and roof leaks, so if you can’t clean them out yourself, hire it done before winter.

Check the caulking and weather stripping around doors and windows.   Replace any loose or missing areas which can lead to drafts and heat loss. Don’t forget your garage door. Make sure there are no gaps when it is closed. If your home has storm windows, remove the screens and put the storms up.  Leaving just the screens on all winter can result in drafts and heat loss.

If you have garden hoses, make sure you drain them and store them inside.  Shut off outdoor water valves to avoid having the pipes freeze. Fertilize the lawn one last time to promote healthy grass in the spring.  Clean and store outdoor furniture and drain the gas from your lawn mower. Make sure your snow equipment is in good working order before the first snow falls. Find your shovels and snow blower and put them where they will be easily accessible for when

you need them.  Empty all your planters of dead flowers and soil. Dirt left in pots all winter may freeze and crack the pots.

Moving inside the house, check windows and doors from the inside for gaps that may cause drafts. Caulk any gaps you find. This is the time of year when you may get unwanted houseguests-mice or other rodents. If you see any evidence of them set traps or call an exterminator.

Change your furnace filter and consider having the furnace serviced before turning it on for the winter. You may also want to have your ducts cleaned professionally. As soon as you turn your furnace on, all the dust and debris in your ducts will be blown into your house through the registers. This is especially important if someone in your family has allergies or asthma. If you have a wood burning fireplace, have the chimney cleaned before you use the fireplace. Creosote can build up ion a chimney and can pose a fire hazard if ignited. If you have window air conditioners remove them for the winter and store them inside or cover them with an approved air conditioner cover. Make sure the windows are well sealed after you remove the air conditioner unit. If you use a humidifier make sure you clean it regularly to avoid a build- up of bacteria.

If you have ceiling fans, change the direction of the blades to create an upward draft and re- distribute the heat that rises into the rest of the room. Change the batteries in your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors and test them to make sure they are working properly.

Lastly, consider having emergency items available for a power outage or blizzard which may keep you stranded for several days. Have flashlights with new batteries, firewood or a generator and plenty of warm blankets.  Have a supply of drinking water and non- perishable food as well as any prescription medicines you might need. Follow these maintenance tips now and you will be ready for whatever winter has in store.

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