Can you believe winter is already just around the corner? With fall in full swing and the cold promise of winter just around the corner, here are some maintenance reminders and tips to keep your home fall and winter-ready.   

RAKE LEAVES: 

While a blanket of leaves may look beautiful on the ground, rain can cause them to be slippery and present a potential slip and fall hazard, not to mention the fact they will prohibit the growth of your beautiful lawn in the spring. Use them as mulch in your garden or simply get rid of them. 

CLEAN GUTTERS AND DOWNSPOUTS: 

Falling leaves love to clog gutters and downspouts. I think they plan for it! Once most of the leaves have fallen it is a good idea to make sure that all the gutters are clean and free of debris. This will ensure that water does not pool which can cause damage to your roof and siding. 

MAKE EXTERIOR REPAIRS: 

Now is a great time to do a walk around your property. Look for any damage or signs of wear to your windows, roof, siding and foundation. Check weather-stripping around windows and doors as well as check for drafts. Also, make sure trees and bushes are not overgrown and potentially blocking walkways, vents and wires. If you see anything that catches your eye, schedule necessary repairs before the weather makes these impossible. 

CHECK DRIVEWAYS AND WALKWAYS: 

Winter brings snow and ice which mean slips and falls. Make sure your walkways and stairs are in good shape and your driveway is in good repair to make shovelling easier – not only does this make you a nicer neighbor, but it ensures that you won’t have any slips or accidents on your property 

SEAL GAPS WHERE CRITTERS COULD ENTER: 

Even the biggest animal lover among us dreads having unwanted guests in the walls and attic. Mice need just the tiniest gap to be able to sneak into your house and cause damage to wires… not to mention your pantry! They also leave quite a mess! As the temperature drops rodents of all kinds will be looking for warm places to nest. Don’t let them use your home! Fill small holes and cover large gaps to keep them out. If you check your policy wording you will likely find damage by rodents is NOT an insurable loss. 

TURN OFF OUTSIDE WATER FAUCETS: 

As we all know water freezes when it gets cold. This can cause pipes to burst making your home an indoor pool.  While this may seem like a fun idea, the damage caused by water can be catastrophic. Turn off all outside taps and disconnect any garden hoses making sure to drain them of any water.  This would also be a good time to check and pad any exposed pipes that are in unheated areas such as crawl spaces under the house. These too can freeze and burst. If you are a snowbird or plan to be away for longer than a few days during the winter, make sure you have a responsible person checking on your home to ensure nothing has gone wrong. 

 

TEST YOUR FIRE ALARMS, EXTINGUISHERS, AND CARBON MONOXIDE DETECTORS

If you haven’t tested your fire alarms or carbon monoxide detectors yet, now is the time! With those heaters turning up and fireplaces being lit, you’ll want to be sure that all of your alarm equipment is working properly. If you don’t remember the last time you changed the batteries in your alarms and detectors, it is recommended you do so before they die – you can always use the ones you’ve taken out as backups for your remote or other small electronics if they aren’t quite drained! Don’t forget to check your fire extinguishers – if they are due for a charge, you can find a local professional fire specialist to help you refill them safely. At Cayuga Mutual, we offer a fire extinguisher refilling program for our policyholders, please contact your agent for details! For more information on fire safety, check out our Fire Prevention blog 

 

TEST AND INSPECT YOUR HEATING SYSTEM 

Now is the time to get your furnace and ductwork inspected. There is nothing worse than waking up on a cold winter morning and seeing your breath! This would also be a good time to change your furnace filter. If you heat with oil, inspect your oil tank. They expire and cannot be filled once they have. If there is wear, they could leak causing all kinds of horrible damage. For some of you, wood is your choice of heat source. While this can be an amazing way to heat, it can also be dangerous. Make sure you have your chimney swept and your fireplace cleaned.  There is never a better time than now to make sure you have enough wood prepped and ready and within easy reach. 

It is also a good idea to stock up on items that may be needed such as salt or sand and snow shovels. If you use a snowblower, make sure it works now so you have no surprises when that first big snowfall hits. It may look beautiful but cleaning it up is tough work! 

Taking the time to make sure you and your home are fall and winter-ready can make sure you don’t have any unexpected losses and expenses allowing you to enjoy the winter months – if that’s your thing! 

If you need any more tips or advice contact your agent. We are here to help.