1) Late summer is a good time to schedule an appointment for a furnace maintenance check. Before the next heating season begins, have a professional heating specialist inspect your furnace. The technician will check and adjust the burners, check the heat exchanger for cracks or leaks, change the air filter and test for carbon monoxide leaks.
2) Install a smoke detector and a carbon monoxide detector on each level of your home including the basement. If you are installing only one carbon monoxide detector, the Consumer Product Safety Commission recommends it be placed near the sleeping area of your home.
Test the devices monthly. If you are using battery operated detectors, replace the batteries twice a year.
3) If you plan to use your fireplace during the winter, have the chimney cleaned and inspected by a professional chimney sweep. The chimney sweep removes creosote, which is a highly combustible residue from wood-burning fires, obstructions such as leaves, and checks for structural problems.
4) Prepare for winter’s wrath of extreme cold and storms by having sufficient heating fuel. Schedule a delivery of home heating oil before turning on your furnace and routine delivery throughout the winter to insure adequate supply. Store a good supply of dry, well-seasoned wood for your fireplace or wood-burning stove. Late summer is the time to secure a good price on home heating oil or a cord of wood.
5) Inspect the exterior of your home for potential winter weather problems. Insulate water pipes that run along exterior walls to reduces the risk of freezing pipes. Apply weather stripping insulation around doors and windows. Replace drafty windows and doors with energy-efficient replacements. Upgrade the insulation in unheated areas of your home such as the attic, attached garage and basement to reduce heating costs and make your home more comfortable.
6) Clean the gutters, which can clog with the accumulation of leaves and debris. Clogged drains fill with rainwater and overflow. This leads to basement and foundation flooding plus damage to windows and siding. The added weight of the water can pull the gutters away from the eaves of the house.
7) Trim tree branches that hang over your house or other structures on your property. Tree branches, particularly dead branches can potentially fall on the house during a storm. Repair any roof leaks and replace damaged roof shingles to prevent interior damage to your house during a storm.
8) Purchase rock salt or other ice-melting products, replace worn snow shovels and do routine maintenance check on your snow blower to be ready for winter storms. Keeping driveways and walkways free of ice and snow reduces the risk of falls and injury.
EMSA: Heating System--Preparing for Winter. Emsaonline. Web. August 22, 2011.
CDC: Cold A Prevention Guide to Promote Your Personal Health and Safety. Bt.cdc.gov. Web. August 22, 2011.
HPBA: Fireplace Safety. Static.hpba.org. Web. August 22, 2011.
FEMA: Before Winter Storms and Extreme Cold. Fema.gov. Web. August 22, 2011.
Edited by Jody Smith