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Simple steps now can save trouble when cold weather arrives

Sep. 30, 2012 @ 12:00 AM

HUNTINGTON -- Fall is officially here, and that means that winter is just around the corner.

It is that time of year when we all need to do a few things to get your home ready for the onslaught of cold weather. After planning a trip somewhere warm in January, one should consider making a checklist of chores that will keep the family warm and dry through the season.

Heat is of primary importance, so get the furnace checked by a professional first thing. This not only assures you that this piece of machinery is in good working order but also establishes a relationship with someone you can call in an emergency. Stock up on furnace filters and change them every month to keep your furnace working efficiently and your air cleaner.

Programmable thermostats seem to be the mantra of the day. They can be set so that the heat flows when you are on sight and is a cooler temperature when you are away. That way you don't have to think about switching the thermostat down before you leave the house. Putting this on your checklist is a good way to educate yourself about the latest technology in home heat.

Many folks use their fireplace extensively to heat their homes and cut down on the expense of gas and electricity. These also need be cleaned and checked for necessary repairs. Chimney sweeps didn't die off with Mary Poppins. They are still out there and good to call once a year to give your chimney a clean bill of health.

Once the heat is flowing the next step for getting ready for winter is to retain as much of it as possible. Seal all those little holes in your house where pipes and wires enter the premises. Weather-strip and caulk the doors and windows - if you need to bring out the storm windows do it now. This is also a good time to investigate replacement windows for older homes. They do make a difference.

Keeping the family dry is a necessity come summer or winter. This is just a good time to do an inspection of your roof to make sure there are no loose shingles. It is easier to get a repair accomplished in fair weather rather than on a frightful winter day. While your roofer is doing a check, have them do an inspection of gutters and downspouts. You might have to clean out debris so they efficiently direct water away from the house.

Finally, while you have someone inspecting your roof, gutters and downspouts have them look for varmint holes. Those malicious squirrels and raccoons are looking for a place to hole up for the winter and you don't want them at your address. They can be very invasive, and you don't want to wake up some morning with a fat squirrel sitting on your bedside table, so board up any possible entryways. Be alert to holes around your foundation as well that might be an invitation to not only squirrel but other vermin as well.

Keeping the family dry also means draining the water hose and outside plumbing, so pipes don't freeze and break.

Take some time and insulate any exposed pipes to prevent any disastrous water breaks. Finally, before you go off to enjoy a winter vacation be sure you drain any pipes that might break, backup or in general cause a problem while you are away.