As summer turns to fall, we can’t help but start thinking about brisk nights and snowy days. Before they start playing holiday music at the department stores, it’s time to take winterizing steps. Whether you’re reading this from your ranch in Oklahoma or your Houston suburban colonial, taking offensive measures defends your bank account in the long run…from costly repairs and expensive utility bills.

Clean those gutters

You don’t notice them, unassumingly wrapping the edges of your home. But ice dams in your gutters cause extensive damage inside and outside your home. If you can swing it, consider gutter guards. If not, clearing the leaves and debris manually seasonally assures a safe and effective flow of water away from your home for chill-free relaxation.

Make your home airtightsnowy day

If the budget allows, seal your inside from the outside with spray foam insulation for the ultimate winterizing step. If finding a certified contractor in your area is out of the question, caulk holes and openings and seal windows and doors with weather seal and stripping around doors, windows and AC units.

Don’t forget to winterize the pipes

One of the absolute worst experiences is a burst pipe on a particularly cold night. Winterizing your pipes with insulation is essential. Keep a small stream of water flowing at all times to prevent the worst. Pro Tip: Install an emergency pressure release valve to prevent the pressure buildups that cause ruptures. 

Test your detectors

Regardless of whether they’re hardwired or battery-operated, smoke and carbon monoxide detectors need to be checked regularly. Smoke detectors should be replaced every ten years; carbon monoxide detectors should be replaced every seven years. The sensors wear out and become unreliable after that. While this isn’t a winterization step, it’s a necessary safety precaution.

Store the outside for the season

dog sleeping in front of wood stoveIt’s time to remove all hoses from the exterior of your home, draining and storing them. Winterize your outside faucets to prevent problems. Clear debris and dead plants from beds and the area around exhausts and air conditioning units. As sad as it is, it’s time to winterize pools, patio furniture and cushions, extending their life.

Have your chimney cleaned

Winter nights are all the more appealing with a cozy fire, but between errant debris and leaves, and critters, fireplaces can be a significant fire hazard. Just weeks ago, celebrity chef and talk show host Rachael Ray lost her upstate New York home to a chimney fire, thanks to a squirrel nest. Proper chimney care also minimizes the risk of dangerous carbon monoxide fume entering your home.

Taking precautionary steps before the cold of winter sets in can save you thousands…or tens of thousands… in the long run! Winterizing your home every year assures that you can enjoy the coldest nights without the worry of expensive repairs, painful utility bills or dangerous conditions. Now, go crunch some leaves and drink a hot toddy! You’ve earned it!