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KATHY’S HOME & GARDEN TIPS – WINTERIZE YOUR HOME AND YARD

1) Furnace Inspection-Call an HVAC professional to inspect your furnace and clean ducts. Stock up on furnace filters and change them monthly. If your home is heated by a hot-water radiator, bleed the valves by opening them slightly and when water appears, close them. Remove all flammable material from the area surrounding your furnace.

2) Get the Fireplace Ready-Cap or screen the top of the chimney to keep out rodents and birds. If the chimney hasn't been cleaned for a while, call a chimney sweep to remove soot and creosote. Inspect the fireplace damper for proper opening and closing. Check the mortar between bricks and tuckpoint, if necessary.

3) Check the Exterior, Doors and Windows-Inspect exterior for crevice cracks and exposed entry points around pipes; seal them. Use weather stripping around doors to prevent cold air from entering the home and caulk windows. Also, prime and paint exposed wood.

4) Inspect Roof, Gutters & Downspouts-Adding extra insulation to the attic will prevent warm air from creeping to your roof and causing ice dams. Check flashing to ensure water cannot enter the home. Replace worn roof shingles or tiles. Clean out the gutters and use a hose to spray water down the downspouts to clear away debris. Cleaning out the gutters is one of the best things to do to prevent ice damming.

5) Service Weather-Specific Equipment-Drain gas from lawnmowers. Service or tune-up snow blowers. Replace worn rakes and snow shovels. Clean, dry and store summer gardening equipment. Sharpen ice choppers and buy bags of ice-melt / sand.

6) Check Foundations-Rake away all debris and edible vegetation from the foundation. Seal up entry points to keep small animals from crawling under the house. Tuckpoint or seal foundation cracks. Mice can slip through space as thin as a dime. Inspect sill plates for dry rot or pest infestation. Secure crawlspace entrances.

7) Install Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Detectors-Buy extra smoke detector batteries and change them when daylight savings ends. Install a carbon monoxide detector near your furnace and / or water heater. Test smoke and carbon monoxide detectors to make sure they work. Buy a fire extinguisher or replace an extinguisher older than 10 years.

8) Prevent Plumbing Freezes-Locate your water main in the event you need to shut it off in an emergency. Drain all garden hoses. Insulate exposed plumbing pipes. Drain air conditioner pipes and, if your AC has a water shut-off valve, turn it off. If you go on vacation, leave the heat on, set to at least 55 degrees.

9) Prepare Landscaping & Outdoor Surfaces-Trim trees if branches hang too close to the house or electrical wires. Plant spring flower bulbs and lift bulbs that cannot winter over such, as dahlias, in areas where the ground freezes.

KATHLEEN WEAVER-ZECH & DEAN'S TEAM CHICAGO

Posted: Tuesday, November 01, 2011 8:09 AM by Dean's Team

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