13 Tasks to Tackle at Home This Sunday for a Safer, Warmer Winter


At 2 a.m. this Sunday (November 3, 2019), Daylight Savings Time ends. We know it is tempting to use that glorious extra hour to sleep in, but we suggest using that extra time to tackle (and/or make arrangements for) these 13 tasks that will help ensure your home is warmer, safer, and less costly this winter.

1. Test and, if necessary, change the batteries in your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors.

The presence of fireplace fires and holiday decorations—trees, wrapping paper, and probably more candles than usual can be a dangerous combination—increases the risk of fires in the home this season. The continual heating of your home and the risk of having outdoor pipes being blocked by snow increase the risk of carbon monoxide seeping into your home.

2. Reverse the direction in which your ceiling fan blades rotate. 

Your ceiling fan has a reverse switch. Use it after you turn your heat on to make the blades run clockwise, which produces an updraft that pushes the heated air at ceiling level down into the room, where you can enjoy it. This is especially important for rooms with high ceilings.

3. Flip or rotate your mattress.

It’s time to hibernate, so make sure your bed is ready! Rotating/flipping your mattress at this time will help you prevent uneven wear on your mattress.

4. Shut off your exterior faucets.

In order to prevent your pipes from bursting during the winter, disconnect all garden hoses, drain any water remaining in the exterior faucets, and turn off the shut-off valve inside your home.

5. Take a good look at your roof.

If you notice any loose or missing shingles, repair them before the snow flies to avoid experiencing leaks during winter storms or when the snow melts.

6. Check those gutters, too.

If your gutters are full, instead of flowing into the downspout, water will back up against your house. This will likely damage your roof, siding, and trim and—not to mention—cause leaks and ice dams. Clean out full gutters, and while you’re at it, add extensions to your downspouts so water flows at least a yard or so away from your foundation.

7. When the fallen leaves in your yard are dry, mow right over them. 

Dime-sized leaf fragments will decompose and add nutrients to your lawn during the winter. When that task is done, prepare your mower to be stowed away for the winter. Run your mower’s engine outside to allow the gas in an almost-empty gas tank to run out, or if you add stabilizer to the fuel, fill the tank up with stabilized fuel. (Always follow manufacturer’s instructions and adhere to recommendations for storing your mower model.)

8. Consult a chimney sweep.

Have a sweep clean your chimney and vents and make sure they are in good working condition in order to keep carbon monoxide from seeping into your home when you have toasty fires in your fireplace.

9. Test your sump pump. 

Slowly pour multiple gallons of water into your sump pit to make sure the pump turns on. You don’t want to find out that it doesn’t during a bad storm, after all.

10. Stock up on salt or ice melt.

Be prepared to prevent slips and falls on sideways, driveways, and walkways.

11. Make arrangements to get your furnace serviced.

Make sure it is in proper working order for the coming winter. The last thing you want is to be surprised to find your home has no heat on a subzero day this January!

12. Replace your furnace filters.

Dirty furnace filters hamper your furnace’s efficiency, which will drive up your heating bill and shorten your furnace’s life.

13. Check for and eliminate drafts.

Walk around your home (carefully) with a candle. When you hold a candle near a draft, you’ll see the flame lean toward the interior of the home (away from the draft). When possible, use caulk and/or spray foam gap sealer to plug household leaks that cause the drafts you find.

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