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Fall is officially here! Cooler temperatures, beautiful foliage, warm fires, and outdoor fun, autumn is undoubtedly one of the best times of the year! Though many festivities are on the horizon, homeowners must also be mindful about the cold winter months approaching, and take the necessary steps to plan and prepare. Sure, these tasks may be tedious, but by being proactive you can avoid a major hassle and expense down the road.

Here are 6 helpful tips to get your home ready:

1.) Prepare your plumbing for the colder weather.

When temperatures drop, water can freeze within your pipes, causing them to crack and then burst. Experts recommend taking the time to drain water from outdoor faucets and garden hoses, as well as inground sprinkler pipes to prevent any issues. You should also identify pipes within your home that may be prone to freezing, such as those that run alongside an exterior wall, and use pipe insulation to keep them warm. Damage from a pipe that bursts can cost upwards of $5K to repair (with some as high as $70K!), so do not delay!

2.) Address any air leaks and conduct routine maintenance to ensure your heating system operates efficiently.

Identify areas within your home where cold air may be entering and warm air escaping to help ensure your heating system is not struggling to work throughout the winter. Weather stripping doors and windows is an excellent and cost effective way to remediate any gaps, minimizing the strain on your system and wallet. It is also recommended that you have your heating system serviced by a technician prior to the winter months. They will replace your air filters and make sure your system is in fine working order.

3.) If you have a fireplace, have your chimney swept and inspected before using.

According to the Chimney Safety Institute of America, “Dirty chimneys can cause chimney fires, which damage structures, destroy homes and injure or kill people.” This is a project that you cannot do yourself, but having a professional sweeping company come in each year prior to using your fireplace is a must have, and well worth the cost. They will clean out any debris and also offer a thorough inspection to make sure there are no hazards in place.

4.) Clean out your gutters prior to bad weather approaching.

Let’s face it, nobody wakes up one morning and says, “By golly! Let’s clean those gutters!” They’re right up there with windows, and not loved by any! However hated, cleaning your gutters is necessary before and after leaves start to fall. Failure to do so could result in hefty damage – with a huge price tag – as gutters can overflow, with water sweeping into your home. Hose-end attachments make gutter-cleaning far simpler than it used to be, but if you need to use a ladder, begin cleaning the gutter near a downspout, removing large debris and then flushing alternatively by using your hose. If the water doesn’t drain, recheck the downspout strainer and clean as necessary.

5.) Properly store your seasonal furniture and other summer supplies.

If you live in an area that deals with more extreme winter weather, it is important to place your patio furniture and pool supplies somewhere safe and indoors to avoid damage. If you do not have space to do so on your property, renting a self-storage unit provides you with the opportunity to keep larger items off-site, within a climate-controlled, secure setting. Many facilities also offer drive-up access, with excellent options for boats and RVs.

6.) Get your home organized before the holidays hit.

With the holidays quickly approaching, more and more items will be making their way into your home, so the need to declutter and get organized is a given. Start with one section of your home each day, determining which items to keep, donate, and then dispose of. For larger items, such as seasonal decor, clothing, or sports equipment, considering renting a local self storage unit to maximize space within your home for items you need each day.

By taking a little extra time to tend to your plumbing, heating, chimney, and gutters, as well as utilizing self storage for larger items that need to be packed away, you can expect a worry and clutter-free season! Now go get yourself a Pumpkin-spiced something or other and enjoy all that Fall has to bring!

Happy Autumn!