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As the days grow shorter and the nights grow colder for the remainder of 2011 it is a good idea to winterize your home ahead of time. This is an especially great idea if you are bringing your home to market in early 2012. A little bit of elbow grease and smart game-planning now will save you a ton of grief and money when the last ice thaws and you are cleaning up a mess right before you talk to brokers. Here are some easy steps to minimize your headaches come March.
Be sure to check all of your exterior doors, patio entrances windows, skylights and any other entry point where drafts and leaks to creep in that could give you trouble. Not only will you save money on your home heating bills, but you won't have to hunt around for winterizing materials in the spring. Make sure to be mindful of doors and small windows that lead to garages and basements, an area that is commonly overlooked.
This goes hand in hand with plugging up drafty areas. You should have a check on your Furnace or Hot Water Heater done by a HVAC professional before the first night under 40 degrees or sixty days before your next inspection date is due. Always stock up on extra filters and be sure to keep any flammable materials away from open or encased utility closets or sheds.
People tend to forget to check their Smoke and Carbon Monoxide detectors because people change the batteries once a year and forget about it. A good practice for your home is to change the batteries (alkaline ones last the longest)in all devices at that start of every season. You can't be too careful with this step, especially with Carbon Monoxide a.k.a. "the silent killer".
About fifteen minutes of attention in this area could prevent a disaster and save you thousands of dollars in the long run. Drain all garden hoses and similar equipment. Insulate all of you exposed pipes if you have any. Make sure you do a seasonal check on air conditioners and central air vents, removing excess water and dust build up. Never allow your home to go completely cold (below 50 degrees indoor temp) when you travel for the holidays. You might be thinking of saving a few dollars in these tough times, but you will be sorry if a main breaks because the house temp became too cold.
Always check the roof of your home, garages, greenhouses and tool sheds before the first heavy snow or rainfall that has iced over. Try to take note of loose shingles, structural damage or any weak spots where an accumulation could cause a collapse. Also, remember if you had an addition built on to your house the materials are often not the same that came with the original structure.
Another often overlooked and forgotten about issue. You might be tired from raking leaves in the fall, but this is another costly mistake homeowners make all the time. Be sure to clear excess debris and leaves away from the home. Inspect seasonally for vermin, rot or insects. Take note of damage to concrete or brick surfaces. Seal all cracks and holes to prevent further damage and close off crawlspaces and baseboard entry points where small animals look to find some warmth at your expense.
If you have a prized garden, front lawn or patio all of these can lose curb appeal and take a while to recover come spring if you don't pay close attention before the bad weather hits. Seal your driveways, patios and decks at least one month before the first heavy snowfall or consistent rain and ice form. Be mindful of trees, flowers and plants. Inspect entry points of phone, cable and electrical wires to make sure they are not at risk for wind damage or fallen trees. Secure shutters, satellite dishes and other antennae with a routine check so you don't have to pay someone to do it later.