You are extremely busy! When you are not working, paying bills, or doing house chores, you want to be relaxing, playing with the kids, watching the big game, or PLAYING GUITAR ;-)! Not too many of us feel like spending the weekend walking around the house looking for needed repairs, performing fall maintenance, or winterizing. But not doing so could prove to be a costly mistake! Below is a list of annual fall/winter prep tasks that you should consider doing now, before it gets much colder and you’re dealing with a serious problem which could have been avoided and which costs significantly more to repair than the cost of the maintenance.

(1) Check windows and doors for air leaks. Seal the gaps in caulking and weatherstripping. A poorly sealed home leads to higher utility bills, and with the prices of propane, heating oil and electricity expected to go up by 54%, 43%, and 6% respectively this winter, this could mean a big hit to your wallet.

(2) Clean and inspect the fireplace/chimney. Having a wood-burning fireplace in your home creates a fire hazard. Ideally, you should have a professional inspect your chimney on an annual basis. Ask the inspector for tips on how to maintain your chimney throughout the year and to identify warning signs.

(3) Furnace tune up. An inspection and maintenance program can greatly extend the lifespan and efficiency of your furnace, translating to significant cost savings. Get an annual inspection (usually during the fall) by a professional who will check for failing belts and motors, and poor performance. Also make sure to replace your furnace filter regularly (at least quarterly).

(4) Test smoke and carbon monoxide detectors. These simple tests could save your life. It is also recommended that you check your fire extinguishers to make sure that they are not damaged or beyond their life expectancy (10-12 years).

(5) Run ceiling fans in reverse. Reversing the flow of air in the room during the winter can help keep you warmer and also reduce utility costs.

(6) Winterize your sprinkler system. Follow your in-ground irrigation system’s winterizing instructions.

(7) Disconnect/empty garden hoses and winterize exterior faucets. To winterize your exterior faucets and keep them from potentially freezing and bursting, you should shut-off the valves serving these faucets, then open and drain the lines. If your faucets are not freeze-proof then an outdoor foam faucet cover may be a good option.

(8) Clean the gutters. Your gutters are responsible for moving an incredible amount of water away from your home. Therefore, it is very important to clear all of the fallen leaves and debris from the gutters to prevent clogging, which could lead to exterior property damage and water intrusion.

(9) Prep your lawn. Rake the leaves, aerate, and fertilize the lawn to ensure a healthy resurgence come spring.

(10) Stock up on salt, shovels and other winter supplies (before you need them).

With home ownership comes great responsibility! Did Spiderman say that? Keep your home functioning at its best and protect your investment!