Prepping your home for the cold weather to come

RBC I Maybe it’s going back to school, maybe it’s the shorter days or maybe it’s the blinding lights signaling the holiday season ahead, but fall home improvement projects often get tossed aside or neglected in favor of more exciting, interesting or pressing activities. This short checklist will help guide you to the most important elements to monitor and maintain in your home, keeping you and your family safe and maximizing the life of your home.

■ When the time changes, it’s time to check the batteries in your smoke detectors. Making sure they are still operational is quick and easy and will bring peace of mind for another six months. Similarly, every year, you should check your fire extinguishers to ensure that they have the proper pressure. Look for dents and dings, and make sure the pin is in the correct position. Fall is a great time to do this, as you’ll be spending more time indoors. If the pressure has fallen too low, find a professional to recharge them for you.
■ Most people don’t use their chimney in the summer, and soot can build up over the course of a year. Other debris like birds’ nests or even leaves can create unsafe blockages. Have your chimney inspected by a professional if you plan to use it through the winter.
■ Small animals will be looking for a warm place to sleep, and your home is a great option for them. Perform routine pest control in your area, watching out for places where animals might get into your home.
■ Most importantly, you’ll want to have your furnace and heating system checked by a professional. This can save you big money on your heating bill, and an inspection can ensure that there isn’t a dangerous buildup of carbon monoxide in your home. Furnace and air filters should be changed regularly to maximize safety and efficiency. If you are planning on using space heaters, humidifiers or de-humidifiers, they are a great addition to your checklist. Clean them off and inspect the heating and electrical elements for safety.
■ Finally, check the caulking around your home. Caulk is a cheap compound that anyone can apply, and it will reduce the amount of energy loss from your home and prevent water damage to flooring, walls and windows in the kitchen and bathroom.
This is a big list—and it’s certainly not comprehensive—but all of these things can be accomplished in one weekend day. Spending minimal time improving and protecting your home for the winter season will provide great returns.