Soon, most of us will be enjoying a sumptuous Thanksgiving dinner with our family and friends. Diets be banished! The First Thanksgiving in America was celebrated by the Pilgrims in 1621 after their first harvest in the New World. In 1863, during the Civil War, President Abraham Lincoln declared a National Day of Thanksgiving, and now the fourth Thursday in November is a federal and public holiday. So enjoy the day and eat whatever you want!
After the big meal, you might be seeking to make up for the holiday indulgence. A great way to do that is to make a plan and spend the next few days getting your house ready for winter, and prepped to show off your outdoor Christmas decorations at their best. While only some, if not all, winterizing efforts may apply to your location, it still makes good sense to make a habit of planning an annual time for maintenance of home and property. This is the best protection against costly repairs caused by inattention.
Take It from the Top
Grab your safest ladder and start with a look at your roof. If any area looks as if it has deteriorated, or if roofing materials have become loose, get a roofer to make necessary repairs before weather does greater damage. No one wants to deal with a leaking roof during the coming holidays, so don’t risk it. At the same time, if your home has rain gutters, clean them out. Clogged gutters can cause significant damage to the exterior of your home and can lead to water leaking inside your house.
Look at the exterior of window and door frames to make certain caulk and weather-stripping are intact. And don’t forget the areas where electric, cable and gas lines enter the house. Fill any gaps with caulk (choose the appropriate type already in place). If you suspect weather-stripping is not sufficient, test with a lighted candle from inside. If the flame wavers, the cold air is getting inside. Find your wind guards for the bottoms of doors leading to the outside, and make sure they don’t need to be replaced.
Get your air-conditioner ready for winter. If you have window units, the best option is to remove them, clean them well and store them. This is a great way to make use of your storage unit! But if removing the window unit is not a realistic option, consider purchasing a heavy gauge plastic cover. These are designed to fit snugly and prevent cold air leakage into your house. They also protect your air conditioner from rust. Home-sized air conditioners can likewise be similarly protected with professional grade plastic covers that can be purchased in hardware stores, or online.
Clean your lawn mower, trimmers and other garden tools. Be certain to drain all liquids out of motors and discard appropriately (many auto parts stores will accept them). While you’re at it, if you live in cold weather country, now’s a good time to get out snow shovels and blowers, and make sure they are in good condition for the full season ahead. If your geographic location experiences freezing weather, take hoses off outdoor faucets, and be sure that if a freeze is predicted, you allow faucets to drip (especially overnight) to prevent your pipes from freezing. That can be a huge cost to defray!
While you’re working outdoors, be sure that leaves are raked up and any garden clutter is removed. If your weather precludes sunny days spent on the patio outside, now’s the time to bring in and store patio furniture, too.
Let’s Go Inside
First, tend to all of the smoke and CO detectors throughout the house. Replace their batteries, and test them to see if they still work correctly. You may find that the soft brush attachment from your vacuum cleaner will help remove the dust that invariably accumulates.
Next, check on your fire extinguisher. Every home needs at least one (typically kept in the kitchen, for obvious reasons). But if you live in a two-story house, each floor should have one. If your fire-extinguisher needs to be replaced, look for a new one with an A-B-C rating.
Your heating system needs to have the vents cleaned, and the filter needs to be replaced. Turn it on to check how it runs. Many people have an annual checkup done on their heating systems; this is smart protective maintenance, especially if the heater has some miles on it!
Check your fireplace. Try the damper and look up the chimney as well as you can. Here, too, is something that many folks have serviced on an annual basis. If you have not used a chimney sweep service before, this may be a good time to look into it. Likewise, wood-burning stoves and gas heaters need to be carefully checked before first real use.
Finally, if you have ceiling fans in the home, don’t forget that lots of them turn in two directions. Using a reverse switch on your fan will push the rising warm air back down, saving you money and enhancing your comfort.
Now, It’s Time!
Okay, you’ve spiffed the place up and burned a lot of calories, so a turkey sandwich is in order, followed by the stringing of lights and garlands for Christmas. You’ll feel good that your home is safe and ready for the coming weather, and that it’s neat and welcoming for your friends and family. Good job!