Summer is officially over, and it’s time to winterize. Clear your gutters of dead leaves. This helps guard against ice buildup. A clean gutter also allows water to drain more quickly before refreezing, which reduces the likelihood of mold.
With cooler air at night, draughts in your home will be more evident. Heat always travels to wherever there is less heat, so your warm indoor air will be looking for those leaks to sneak out! Insulating around leaks or sealing them up can fix this.
Heat also rises, so your top floor is the easiest place for leaks. A well-insulated attic can do wonders for conserving heat. Water pipes and hot water heaters also benefit from insulation, especially if your basement is unheated.
Keep your furnace filter clean so it will run more efficiently. With a well-insulated attic, your gas-burning furnace will kick on less frequently—another money saver.
If you heat with wood, clean your chimney. All that soot is a fire hazard. In the event of a chimney fire, first, call 911—it’s better to call them back and tell them the fire is out, than to have things get out of control without help on the way. Second, close your stove door and chimney flue to cut off the fire’s supply of oxygen.
As a last resort, drop a sandwich bag of baking soda down the chimney to smother the flames. Only attempt this if the fire is small and contained to your chimney. If the fire has spread, you do not want to be on the roof. For those who live close enough for firefighters to arrive quickly, it’s better to wait for the pros. But for country folk, the baggie of baking soda is a handy trick.
Your lawn mower has probably seen its last action for the year, so you’ll want to winterize it as well. If you keep it in a place where condensation is possible, fill the tank, add some fuel stabilizer, and run the mower for about five minutes to allow the stabilizer to reach the carburetor.
If you keep the lawn mower in a place where condensation will not be a problem, drain out what gasoline you can and run the mower until it consumes the remaining fuel. Keep some mothballs nearby during winter to prevent rodents from making their home there.
If the lawn mower has a battery, charge it up periodically during winter, which will allow the battery to hold a longer charge once you need it. Also be sure to consult your owner’s manual for any other maintenance tips.
Winterizing your snow blower is a bit different, since you’ll probably be using it. Fill it with gas and start it up before the first snowfall. Check to make sure your snow shovel is in good enough shape to last the winter, too.
Look around your yard for tree branches to trim if they could pose a hazard to your home, car, or power lines in the event of an ice storm.
Cars and trucks are better equipped to handle cold than your lawn mower, but be sure to have the right amount of antifreeze/coolant, and check your windshield washer fluid.
Keep an eye on your tires as well. For optimum performance in hazardous conditions, tires should be in good shape and properly inflated. You might even consider switching to snow tires for better traction.
Keep an emergency kit in your vehicle. A flashlight, blankets, extra gloves and hat, hand warmers, and snacks are useful in case you wind up in a ditch. Kitty litter or sand, an ice scraper and brush, a small shovel, and extra coolant are winter must-haves. Finally, check your belts, hoses, and spark plugs.
October will be a little chilly this year. In fact, we could see our first snowfall around October 10. It’s not likely to stick around, but it gives us a preview of what’s to come.