by Peter Dettore, sales and marketing, J Thomas Homes

School is in full swing, nights are getting cooler and leaves are changing colors. It won’t be long until winter is upon us. Cache Valley winters are typically long, wet and cold, and many people overlook the impact these conditions can have on their home. Taking a little time to prepare your home and yard for the winter can save you time, money and the headache of having to deal with preventable repairs.

Here are a few things you should consider:

1. Have your furnace serviced by a heating professional. All furnaces have factory settings that need to be readjusted in order to maximize the efficiency of your furnace. Many heating companies offer “fall furnace tune-up” promotions, so ask for it when calling for quotes.

2. Check the weather stripping on all your exterior doors. Air gaps in exterior doors caused by shifted or split weather stripping can be an expensive escape route for the heat in your home.

3. Replace the batteries in all your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors. Also check expiration dates on your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors. If they are expired replace the entire device.

4. Clean your gutters from debris and leaves to prevent ice dam and snow buildups that can cause expensive damage to gutters and downspouts.

5. Homes that have fireplaces need to have a chimney inspection at least every other year. When the chimney is being inspected have the chimney professional look at the wood stove door rope gasket to ensure it is working properly.

6. Shop for ice melt, snow shovels and ice picks before it snows. During a storm prices go up and stores sell out quickly. If you use a snow blower, change the oil and make sure you have fresh gas in the blower before the storm hits. Many problems with snow blowers occur when gas is left in the unused machine throughout spring, summer and fall.

7. Make sure each vehicle has a winter emergency kit in the trunk; include blankets, a first aid kit, snacks and other emergency needs. As well, having a few roof shingles in your trunk could be helpful on the day you are stuck on ice in the parking lot at the grocery store.

8. Trim back any tree or shrub branches that are rubbing against your home. In the winter they can become covered with ice or snow and cause damage to the exterior of your home.

9. Disconnect all garden hoses from your exterior hose bibs. Homes built in the last 20 years most likely have frost-free bibs and only need to have the hose disconnected. Older homes may need to have foam-insulated covers placed over the hose bibs. These can be found at any home improvement store for about $5.

10. If you have an automatic sprinkler system take the time to properly shut the system down for the winter. If you have an air compressor you can blow out the sprinkler lines yourself. If you need to hire someone to do this, shop around because many landscaping companies will offer fall specials.