Breathe Easy.

It’s time to prepare for another brutal winter!

Check out the six preparation tips below to be ready before the snow flies.

1. Furnace tune-up
Heat is not optional when the temperature outside drops. Make sure you’re ready by having a certified furnace repair contractor clean and check your heating system. This ensures everything runs efficiently while reducing the chances of a break-down.

2. Roof and gutters
Loose or missing shingles can result in leaks and expensive repairs. Using binoculars, look closely at your roof and contact a reputable roofing contractor if in doubt. Your gutters should be cleaned after the leaves have finished falling. Don’t forget your downspouts - blocked or clogged downspouts will back up your gutters and cause ice dams.

3. Caulk and weatherstrip
Cracked caulking allows cold air in and heat out. Inspect around your windows and doors, checking weather stripping for a tight seal. If your garage is attached to your home, is the garage door weather-tight?

4. Exterior faucets
If you’ve ever had a pipe burst due to freezing, you know how important it is to pay attention to outside faucets. The standard advice is to shut off and drain the water going to the faucet. If this isn’t possible or if you want to be extra careful, I have found the best protection is a Styrofoam cover which installs in less than 30 seconds and usually costs a dollar or two. Look for it at your local hardware store or home improvement center.

5. Attic insulation
Chances are your home has insulation in the attic. If you haven’t added insulation in the last few years, you probably don’t have enough. The government’s Energy Star website suggests R-49 to R-60 for our part of the country. Check your attic and if there are only three or four inches, consider adding fiberglass or blown-in insulation. This will pay for itself in a few short years and keep your home more comfortable right away.

6. Clean and reverse ceiling fans
Ceiling fans are a great way to keep the air in your home circulating. Don’t forget to reverse the direction the blade is turning to move warm air down from the ceiling. The higher your ceilings, the more benefit you’ll feel moving that air. If you have ceiling fans but don’t run them constantly, experiment with letting them run on the slowest setting for a week. I think you’ll find that you reduce or eliminate warm and cold spots in your rooms.

The time and effort spent now in getting ready for winter will pay benefits all season long. Preparation is the key to reducing unpleasant weather-related surprises in your home. Schedule your furnace tune-up today!

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