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Fall has finally arrived! For many people, this is their favorite time of the year. Pumpkin-flavored drinks, cookies, cakes, and breads line the store shelves. Watching football games with the family each Sunday is a tradition. Sweaters, cozy scarves, and comfy clothes fill the closets. But before you make your next pumpkin spice latte and get snuggled up on the couch with your favorite throw, make sure your home is prepared for the colder weather ahead.

Even if you live in an area of the country that doesn’t see temperature extremes during the fall and winter months, the cooler and likely wetter weather could still wreak havoc on your home. Regardless of where you live in the country, now is the time to make sure your home will be ready for what’s to come. Follow these tips to get fall-ready!

Tip #1: Schedule a maintenance appointment for your home’s heater.

Even if you’ve already switched your thermostat from ‘COOL’ to ‘HEAT’ this season and things seem to be working just fine with your furnace, you should still schedule an annual appointment to get it inspected and cleaned by a professional. During your tune-up appointment, the experienced and trained heating pro in your home will thoroughly clean and examine all working components inside your unit to be sure things are operating as efficiently as possible to keep your home warm and toasty until warm weather returns next year.

Also, during a maintenance appointment, the technician will ensure that your furnace is working safely. This is especially important if you have a unit that operates on natural gas. He or she will make sure that there are no dangerous gas leaks which could lead to a dangerous situation for your family. If you have a furnace that operates on electricity, the technician will check the wiring to be sure nothing is frayed or otherwise damaged and in need of replacement.

Tip #2: Seal your window and door frames.

You’d be surprised by how much cold air is able to enter your home from the outside environment when you have gaps or openings in your window and door frames. When these pockets of air loss exist, you can also lose a lot of warm, conditioned air from inside your home. In turn, this could lead to your furnace working overtime (and costing you a fortune on your monthly energy bills) to keep your family warm and cozy.

To test for areas of air loss, run your hand over your window and door frames and make note of any areas where you can feel air passing through from the outside. You will need to add extra sealant to these areas to get them properly sealed. Weatherstripping materials can be purchased at your local home improvement store.

Tip #3: Invest in a programmable thermostat.

If you don’t already have a “smart” thermostat installed, now is a great time to consider purchasing one for your home. These devices can be programmed to raise/lower the temperature at certain times throughout the day. So, when your family is gone during the day at work and school, you can set the temperature in your home to be slightly cooler since nobody will be there to enjoy the warm air provided by your furnace. You can then schedule the thermostat to raise the temperature in your home by a few degrees before your family returns at the end of the day.

Many homeowners are amazed by how much money they can save on their monthly energy bills simply by adjusting their thermostat by a few degrees each day. The same practice can also be used during the summer months. You can raise the temperature in your home by a few degrees during the day, and then set the thermostat to make things a bit cooler before you get back home.

Tip #4: Check for concrete cracks around your home.

Now is a great time to get outside and check for any damage to your sidewalks, patio, porch, driveway, pool deck, etc. If you notice any cracked areas, be sure to get them properly filled and sealed by a professional. If you live in an area where harsh winter weather is common, these already-damaged areas can get even worse. Not only that, but uneven and cracked surfaces could be a tripping hazard for your loved ones or for anyone visiting your home.

Tip #5: Clean your gutters and downspouts.

Even though you may think that raked up all the leaves that fell from your property’s trees, you may be shocked to see how many actually fell on top of your home and landed inside your gutters and downspouts. Before the snow and ice of winter arrive, pull out the ladder and make your way up to the top of your home and clear out the build-up of leaves, pinecones, acorns, and other outdoor debris from your gutter system. Failure to do so could lead to moisture from melting snow pooling over the sides of your home and creating ice dams and other structural damage since this precipitation can’t make its way down and out through your gutters/downspouts.

While examining this area of your home, it’s also a smart idea to check for any problems with your roof. If you see damaged or deteriorating shingles or roofing panels, now is the time to get these areas repaired or replaced before the weather gets any colder. Snow and ice could cause serious water damage to the top of your home if it’s not properly protected with sturdy, durable shingles.

Tip #6: Store outdoor furniture and lawn equipment.

If you haven’t already done so, be sure to put your patio furniture, lawn mower, garden hose, and other outdoor items you used in the summer away in your shed, basement, or garage. If you leave these items out to face the elements, don’t be surprised if they ruined during the course of the winter months!

Bonus tip!

Make sure your heating system is protected from an unexpected breakdown this season by signing up for the Heating System Repair Program from American Water Resources. When you’re enrolled in the plan and a covered problem occurs with your home’s furnace, give us a call and we will find a local repair provider in your area to diagnose and treat the problem, so your family isn’t left in a miserably cold and uncomfortable home for too long!