Don’t let the sunshine of a Northern California autumn fool you: Winter is waiting in the wings, and all those home-maintenance and winterizing projects you set aside during the summer months still need to be completed before the rain and cold of December hits.
Putting it off for a few weeks won’t do. Once Thanksgiving comes along your so-called free time will evaporate like San Francisco fog, and the next thing you know winter will have settled in like an unwelcome guest.
Home-maintenance experts point to a few essential tasks every homeowner needs to tackle before winter: Clean out your roof’s gutters; check the furnace to make sure it’s still operating after being turned off since the spring; take down window screens and put up storm windows; make an appointment with a certified chimney sweep; wrap the water pipes in case of freezing temperatures; and check the batteries in the smoke detector.
A winterization guide on MSN.com’s real estate page lists 10 simple projects to get your home ready for cold weather, including one you might not have thought of: reversing the direction of your ceiling fan’s blades.
As you look up at the fan, its blades should turn clockwise in the winter and counterclockwise in the summer. By reversing its direction from summertime operation, the fan will push warm air downward and force it to recirculate, keeping you more comfortable.
Another helpful guide comes from the nonprofit National Center for Healthy Housing and contains dozens of topics on a home-maintenance checklist — everything from cleaning dryer vents to securing your swimming pool.
Don’t panic; you don’t need to do everything in the next few weeks. Some projects are recommended for springtime, some for fall, some annually, and some only as needed.
TV handyman Bob Vila has a fall-maintenance checklist with smart tips for interior and exterior winterization, plus advice for preparing your yard, garden, porch, and deck. Also, check out the links for a springtime-maintenance list and year-round home care.
Looking for more ideas? The National Association of Realtors’ Houselogic website explains in detail how to a accomplish a wide range of seasonal maintenance projects. Among them: If there’s any chance of freezing weather, remember to shut off any outdoor spigots. And if you need tips on snow-shoveling techniques or on how to use rock salt to melt ice effectively, this is the site for you.
(Image: Flickr/Lauren Finkel)