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4. Repair roofs
Remove branches and other debris that collect on roofs, Graham recommends. Repair or replace loose shingles and deteriorating flashing seals around vents and chimneys to keep out water. If you have a flat roof, patch cracked or blistered seams. DIYers should be cautious about getting up on the roof and take safety precautions. You may want to hire a handyman to repair a few shingles or a roofer for larger sections.
Don’t overlook skylights. Have a professional check for deteriorating seals on the roof and inside your home that may need patching, Graham advises.
5. Do a sweep of fireplaces and stoves
Clean chimneys before winter to ensure the flue isn’t blocked, soot hasn’t accumulated and the brick-and-mortar joints aren’t leaking water or fumes, Wessling says. Check that a gas stove burns properly and is free of carbon buildup, he adds. DIYers should make sure to use a non-combustible sealant. A professional chimney sweep may cost $130 to $380. Look for one through the Chimney Safety Institute of America.
6. Tackle yardwork
Clearing tree limbs and other vegetation from steps, walkways and yards may help prevent falls and wildfires. Studies by Michigan State University and Purdue University recommend mowing leaves without the bag, instead of raking, because the smaller leaf pieces decompose more quickly. Remove tree limbs close to your home or a power line. Prune trees overhanging the roof or if you live where winter storms can topple trees onto your home.
This is the season when your lawnmower needs a bit of TLC too. Any fuel inside the engine will decompose during winter, which may make it difficult to start next spring. Mower maker John Deere recommends cleaning the machine, lubricating it and following the manual for tire pressure in colder temperatures. If you use a fuel stabilizer, fill the tank; otherwise, run the engine to empty it. Store the mower in a dry place or outside covered by waterproof material.
7. Drain exterior water
Water left in pipes and garden hoses can freeze, causing them to burst. Disconnect, drain and store hoses. Wessling also recommends turning off outside water at the surface valve and draining any water remaining in the faucets. If you have a lawn irrigation system, have your sprinkler service drain it for $50 to $200 to avoid leaks or damage from freezing.
8. Put swimming pools to bed
Not properly preparing a pool for winter can cause major damage. First, remove all pool accessories. If you have an inflatable pool, disconnect the water source and pump, empty it, deflate it and let it dry completely before storing it in a dry place. For a hard-sided, above-ground pool, follow the instructions of the winterization kit you’ll need to buy.
For an in-ground pool, clean it, adjust the water chemistry, lower the water level to 6 to 12 inches below the skimmer (a filter on the side of pools). Drain the filters, pump and heater (you may not need to drain if you live in a warmer climate) and store them indoors. Cover the pool securely.