Thanks to the time change, it's starting to feel like the middle of the night all the time -- at least, that's how it is in the northern reaches of the US. That means that it's time to start thinking about winterizing, which is a task you want to get done before it starts getting extremely cold. If you do your prep work now, you'll be snug as a dog at the foot of the bed (no bugs in our rugs, please -- that's what exterminators are for!) while your neighbors are out slogging on last-minute projects.
Concrete often has a tough time in the winter, as all that freezing, warming, and water infiltration creates cracks and expands existing ones. Get in ahead of the game: fill existing cracks with concrete sealant and repair larger ones to even out the surface. Not only will you prevent further damage, you'll also reduce the risk of painful slips and falls.
For small cracks, you can use caulk. For larger ones, get a concrete patching compound. In both cases, you need a clean, dry day (which is why you need to do this now, not later!) and you should plan on avoiding the cracks for a few days to let them cure completely.
Check that weather stripping
For starters, good weather stripping makes your home more efficient, saving you on both heating and cooling costs. In the winter, it will prevent unpleasant drafts while keeping heat inside the home so you don't run the furnace endlessly, only to pump heat right out through your windows. Manually inspect all your weatherstripping and replace any that's aging or weathered now, rather than in the winter, when you really won't want to be opening windows to mess around with insulation.
While you're add it, make sure any loose sashes are secured, and consider adding a door sweep for added draft control and insulation in your home. If you don't like the look of a door sweep on interior doors, consider a draft stopper: here's a cool guide to making your own!
Inspect your roof
Your roof is your best friend during the winter season, and you don't want to be calling for a Houston emergency roofer in a panic because something's gone horribly wrong. Head upstairs on a bright day to look for shafts of sunlight that indicate sites of potential leaks, and pay especially close attention around the flashing, one of the most common leak locations. Contact a roofer to get an estimate on a fix to make sure your roof will be dry this winter -- and to stop leaks before they create problems like mold, mildew, and insect infestations.
We've been reminding you to take care of your gutters for a while, but seriously, you need to do it! Take a gander on a ladder to see if the gutters are clear, and get them cleaned out if they aren't. This is also the time to check all gutter fasteners to make sure they're secure, and to replace any damaged or sagging gutter components. There's still time to hang new gutters if you need to, and you'll want to do it now rather than in the rainy season.
In addition, you should check your downspouts or rain chains. Make sure they're clear too, and look to see where they're draining. Are they just dumping water around your foundation? That's a no-no, and you need to create better drainage so they'll flow into a rainwater recovery pool, storm drain, rain garden, or other area.
Your furnace needs a checkup
Before you start firing it up, make sure your furnace is ready to roll. A heating and cooling professional can inspect it, replace any damaged components, and clean the system to confirm it's in good working order. If anything needs to be fixed, now is the time to do it, not in the middle of winter when you're shivering under 16 layers of blankets. If you have a wood-fired heating system, check out our fall chimney safety guide.
Insulate your pipes
If you haven't done this already, get on it! Insulating your pipes increases efficiency for greater energy savings, and it will also prevent frozen and burst pipes in the winter months. This is basically a win-win for your wallet and your house. Hardware suppliers sell pipe insulation materials, including convenient pre-cut insulation that's a cinch to use.
Storm door and window o'clock
If you live somewhere with heavy weather, you probably already know about this, but just in case you don't, or you've recently relocated to a region known for winter storms, get your storm doors and window shutters on now. That way, when a warning is issued, all you have to do is close and secure them, so you can focus on more immediate storm prep needs with the assurance that your home is safe and sound.
Katie Marks writes for Networx.com.