While winter officially begins on December 21, you should start preparations now—especially if you live in a cold climate, advises Home Depot Associate Robert Richards, who works in the company’s Merrifield, Virginia, store.
- Check the foundation around the house and seal up entry points to keep small animals from crawling under the house.
- Inspect your roof and replace worn roof shingles or tiles.
- Prime and paint exposed wood and replace any cracked or leaking windows.
- Seal driveways, brick patios and wood decks. Seal cracks and exposed entry points around pipes. Apply weather stripping around doors and caulk windows. “Be sure to caulk before the weather gets cold because caulk won’t stick to cold surfaces as well,” points out Richards.
- Inspect your chimney and cap or screen the outside opening to keep wildlife out. And if it’s been a while since the chimney was cleaned, call a chimney sweep.
- Overseed and fertilize your lawn, but not both at the same time. Richards advises overseeding in the fall, and fertilizing in the spring, before you see crabgrass. He also tells customers to use a fertilizer with pendimethalin, a powerful herbicide that prevents crabgrass.
- Prune trees and plants (like roses) once they have gone dormant to prevent winter injury. And don’t forget to mulch. Says Richards: “Mulch is like a blanket that protects the roots all winter.” And if you’re going to plant bulbs for spring flowers now is the time.
- Contact an HVAC professional to inspect your heating unit and clean air ducts. Be sure to change filters regularly and remove any flammable material from this area.
- Smoke detectors should be installed throughout your home, and a carbon monoxide detector should be installed near your heating unit and/or water heater. It’s a good idea to test these detectors a couple times a year to make sure they work.
- Emergency Kit—Have plenty of flashlights, extra batteries, indoor candles and lighters (or matches) in case power goes out. Stock up on bottled water and non-perishable food supplies (and pet food, if needed) and have plenty of blankets and a first-aid kit on hand. Have a family emergency plan including an evacuation plan and meeting area.