Preparing your home for fall and winter is important to start thinking about now. Staying one step ahead will keep emergencies and the high costs that come from emergency repairs away. Here’s just a few things that should be on your list.

1. Have your heating and air conditioning system inspected.  A technician will inspect your furnace or heat pump to be sure the system is clean and in good repair, and that it can achieve its manufacturer-rated efficiency. The inspection also measures carbon-monoxide leakage.If you act soon, you’ll minimize the chance of being 200th in line for repairs on the coldest day of the year.

2. Reverse your ceiling fans. Run the fan’s blades in a clockwise direction after you turn on your heat. Energy Star says the fan will produce an updraft and push down into the room heated air from the ceiling (remember, hot air rises).This is especially helpful in rooms with high ceilings — and it might even allow you to turn down your thermostat by a degree or two for greater energy savings

3. Don’t let ice dams defeat you. If your home had lots of icicles last winter — or worse, ice dams, which can cause meltwater to back up and flow into your house — take steps to prevent potential damage this year.A home-energy auditor or weatherization contractor can identify and fix air leaks and inadequate insulation in your home’s attic that can lead to ice dams. If you have the work done before December 31, 2013, you can claim the federal energy-efficiency tax credit for 10% of the cost (excluding installation), up to $500.

4. Get your roof inspected. Have one of our technicians look for damaged, loose or missing shingles that may leak during winter’s storms or from melting snow. You will want us to also check and repair breaks in the flashing seals around vent stacks and chimneys, too.

5. Caulk your windows… or even think about replacing them. If the gaps between siding and window or door frames are bigger than the width of a nickel, you need to reapply exterior caulk. (Check the joints in window and door frames, too.) Silicone caulk is best for exterior use because it won’t shrink and it’s impervious to the elements. Add weatherstripping as needed around doors, making sure you cannot see any daylight from inside your home. Depending on the quality of your windows or doors, how old they are and what kind of warranty you have – you may want to think about replacing them. Windows and doors are one of the biggest ways your costly heat escapes. Get a price now.

6. Clean your gutters. If your gutters are full of leaves, water can back up against the house and damage roofing, siding and wood trim — plus cause leaks and ice dams. Also look for missing or damaged gutters and fascia boards and repair them. Also you will want to add extensions to downspouts so that water runs at least 3 to 4 feet away from the foundation. Wheaton Door & Window also has knowledgeable gutter and downspout representatives who can point out any problematic areas.

7. Drain exterior water pipes. Undrained water in pipes can freeze, which will cause pipes to burst as the ice expands. Start by disconnecting all garden hoses and draining the water that remains in faucets. If you don’t have frost-proof faucets (homes more than ten to 15 years old typically do not), turn off the shut-off valve inside your home.

8. Mow your leaves instead of raking them. The trick is to cut the dry leaves into dime-sized pieces that will fall among the grass blades, where they will decompose and nourish your lawn over the winter. And don’t prune until late winter. Horticulturalists advise waiting to prune until late winter for most plants, when they’ve been long dormant and just before spring growth begins. 9. Have your chimney serviced. Make sure your fireplace (or any heating appliance burning gas, oil, wood or coal), chimney and vents are clean and in good repair. That will prevent chimney fires and prevent carbon monoxide from creeping into your home.

10. Restock cold-weather essentials, such as salt or ice melt now.

These steps will help lower your utility bills and protect your investment. If you have any questions or need some assistance please give us a call 301-949-8951 or