By: Kim Kerr, Family Services Manager

Summer always seems to fly by so quickly.  It is November already!  We all know in Northeast Ohio what is coming sooner or later.  Some are excited by those cold temperatures and white flakes, while others are dreading those things.  Either way, our houses need to be prepared now rather than after the temperatures get extremely cold.  So, what should we do to prepare?

Most experts agree on a few steps to prepare our homes for winter.  One thing that needs attention is the furnace.  This is the time to change your filter.  Find a reputable HVAC contractor to check your system.  Now that the air conditioner’s work is complete, clean the condensing unit and after it is completely dry, cover it for the winter.   This is also a good time to inspect and clean the heating vents.  It is recommended to have your vents cleaned every 3 to 5 years.  Along with making sure your home will keep you nice and warm, a technician can also check to make sure that vents are working properly and a bird or other animal has not found your vent to be its summer home.

This is also a good time to check your carbon dioxide detector and smoke detector and replace their batteries.

Before the weather gets cold, check to make sure the chimney is clear.  If you have a fireplace, check the damper to make sure it works properly.  Inspect the firebrick in the fireplace.  If you see any open mortar joints, have them repaired.  Also, clean the fireplace.    Exterior faucets need to have the water turned off inside the house.  After the water is turned off, drain the water by turning on the faucet outside.  Disconnect hoses, drain them and store them for the winter.  Frozen pipes can cause a lot of damage to a home so taking these precautions can help avoid a costly repair.

Outside, check your roof for loose or missing shingles and clean out gutters.  Check gutters to make sure that all water is being moved 3 to 4 feet away from the foundation.

It is a good idea to check caulking around the windows and door frames and reapply if necessary. Make sure the putty in the windows is in good shape and check the weatherstripping around doors.  Allowing heat to be lost around these areas this winter can cost a lot of money.

Finally, take care of your lawn this fall.  Studies have shown that it is a good idea to mow your leaves rather than rake them.  Use a mower that will cut the leaves into small pieces.  The leaves will decompose into your lawn and feed it naturally for a beautiful lawn in the spring.

Enjoy these last weeks of fall and spend some time preparing for the months ahead.  Preparing now will allow you to stay warm during the snowy Northeastern Ohio days, and also allow you to be warm and truly enjoy the beauty that is coming soon.