Winter is coming and if you fail to get your home ready before it arrives, you could find yourself left out in the cold. Fortunately, there are steps you can take to prepare your home before potential problems occur.

Maintain Exterior Surfaces

Maintaining the exterior of your home doesn’t just keep it looking nice, it also helps prevent extremes of temperature from damaging your home or driving up your utility bills. A good place to start winterizing is to check your roof, siding, trim, window and door seals, patio, deck, foundation, driveway and other exterior surfaces for chips, cracks, rotten wood and other damage. You can use caulk, paint, and sealant for minor repairs. Bigger problems may require some professional assistance to repair or replace the damaged surfaces.

Inspect Gutters and Drains

Gutters and drains help direct water away from your home so that it doesn’t cause floods, cracks in the foundation, or damage to the outside of your home. Fall is a good time to check your gutters because you probably need to get up there and clean out all the leaves anyway. If you notice that water isn’t draining as well as you’d like, consider adding extenders to your downspouts. You may want to walk around the outside of your home and look for any low places that need to be filled to prevent water pooling around your home.

Trim Trees

Trees that are unhealthy or haven’t been properly trimmed can create havoc when winter weather arrives. Dead limbs or trees can break and fall on your house due to heavy snow, wind or ice accumulation. Branches that have grown too close to your home are also a danger for falling on your roof or scraping against the exterior of your home. Trees that are too close to your home can also provide easy access to your attic for wildlife, such as squirrels and raccoons, who may find the inside of your home a tempting escape from cold temperatures.

Check and Maintain HVAC System

The typical lifespan of an HVAC unit is between 12 and 15 years. The better you maintain your system, the longer it is likely to last. Since you probably don’t want to find out your heat doesn’t work during the first really cold day of winter, you may want to have a technician check your furnace during the fall. Not only can this prevent you from shivering in the cold while you wait for help to arrive, but it can save you money since HVAC repair services are less busy in the fall than in the winter and the prices are likely to be lower. This is also a good time to change the filters. If your unit is nearing the end of its lifespan or the inspection doesn’t go well, you may want to update your HVAC system to a modern, energy-efficient unit.

Preparing your home for winter, before winter arrives, can keep you from dealing with a broken furnace or hole in the roof at the worst possible time. It can also save you money on your heating bill. The time and money you spend winterizing now can save you time and money down the road.