Gutters and roof
must do: clear debris from your gutters or have a professional do it. Make sure your downspouts are directing water at least 3 feet away from your home's foundation, says David Lupberger, home-improvement expert. It is also crucial to make sure that your gutters and downspouts are securely fastened to your home and that there is no blockage in the downspout. Why are gutters and downspouts important? Winter weather typically means more rain or snow which can seriously damage your home's foundation. Gutters and downspouts are there to take the water that runs off your roof and get it away from your home. Keeping them working properly will keep your foundation dry and stable and save you a lot of money and hassle.
should do: Check your roof for peeling tiles and any potential roofing issues. If you really want to be diligent, inspect your attic for mold, water stains and other signs of moisture.
must do: If you do nothing else, replace the filter.
should do: Have a professional perform an annual furnace check. Lupberger says a good furnace pro will vacuum the unit, lubricate the parts, replace your filter and check the thermostat.
must do: Walk around inside your house while the sun is out and look at the doors that lead outside. If you see daylight coming in around the door frame, that's a sign that outside air is leaking in. If you have an air leak you can buy weatherstripping at a hardware or home improvement store and create a tighter seal. If light is coming in from the bottom of the door, you can buy a door sweep to keep cold air out.
should do: Lupberger highly recommends that homeowners have a blower door test performed to determine where the house is leaking air so they can insulate and upgrade to create a tighter, more comfortable home- not to mention save some money. "Ninety percent of homes were built when energy was cheap, that means most homes are under insulated" says Lupberger.
must do: If your home has a sprinkler system, it must be winterized to prevent any freezing in the colder months, says Sam White, owner of Preferred Spinkler Service in Denver. Winterizing that system consists of shutting it off from inside the home, draining it and using compressed air to blow any remaining water out of individual sections of the system. White recommends having a professional do this.
A few other things to think about before winter hits
Fireplace and Chimney- If your home has a fireplace and you regularly have fires, it may be time to have a chimney sweep take a look. It is a good idea to have this done every two or three years.
Pipes- You can save a little money on hot water by insulating your pipes so they will hold heat longer.
Detectors- Check the batteries in your carbon-monoxide and smoke detectors and make sure the detectors are working.