Get your home 'back to school' ready with this homeowner's checklist

Now that it's back to school time, you've likely seen your fair share of checklists telling you what items you'll need to purchase for your kids to make the most of the upcoming school year. In addition to the school supply checklists, we've put together a handy and helpful to-do-list for you to help get your home ready for the upcoming fall season! Prepare now while you still have time before cold weather hits.

1. Winterize Your AC.

Even though the weather may not be "cold" just yet, it's important to know what steps you'll need to take to prepare your AC for the winter season. You may have heard that covering your air conditioner is the best way to keep it safe and sound while not in use - but this isn't true! When you cover your air conditioner, it may do more harm than good.

Keeping a cover on your air conditioner may trap moisture inside of the unit, and this could lead to the development of mold. The worst part is that you won't know about the development of this fungus until the spring season when you turn your cooling system on for the first time and notice a musty odor flowing through your home. Mold spores in the air could cause serious health problems for your loved ones.

Additionally, covering your AC during its "off-season" may create an inviting environment for rodents and other critters trying to find a shelter from the cold. These animals may get into your cooling system and cause damage to the wiring and other various components in the unit.

2. Check the concrete surfaces around your home.

Perform a visual inspection of your driveway, patio, pool area, sidewalks, and so on to determine if there are any cracks present. You'll want to get them filled and sealed before freezing weather arrives. If moisture gets into these openings and freezes, the expansion of the precipitation in the concrete could cause the cracking to become worse.

Additionally, the moisture could seep underneath the concrete surface and cause the slab to shift upward/downward in place. It's a much bigger headache to fix bowed concrete surfaces than to simply get the cracks filled in when you first notice a problem!

3. Inspect your roof.

Your roof is the first layer of protection on top of your home against rain, sleet, snow, wind, and ice. Be sure to look for the following signs of damage while performing your inspection:
  • Missing or damaged shingles
  • Fading or discoloration
  • Damaged caulking or sealing around your chimney or venting
  • Mold growth
  • Loose or damaged gutter/downspout sections
  • Water damage
  • Bird or other animal nesting materials

You'll want to get these issues taken care of before the worst of winter arrives. Any weakened areas on top of your home will be prone to serious moisture damage if it experiences snow or ice. This moisture could damage roof panels and eventually make its way into the attic of your home.

4. Prepare or replenish your winter emergency kit.

It's better to be safe than sorry when it comes to keeping your family protected. If you don't already have a winter emergency kit stocked and on-hand, now is the best time to get one prepared. You'll want to include the following items: battery-powered radio with extra batteries, flashlight, bottled water, non-perishable food items, candles and matches/lighters, first aid supplies, extra blankets, any special need/medication items your family members may need.

If you already have a winter emergency kit in your home, check it to see which items may need to be replenished, such as batteries, food, or first aid supplies. It's also a great idea to keep a winter emergency kit in your car in case you are stuck in the cold on the road during winter weather. This kit should include the above items, as well as road flares, jumper cables, and an ice scraper.

5. Store lawn equipment and patio furniture.

Once cold weather hits, you won't need your lawn mower, weed eater, garden hose, or your patio table and chairs. Be sure to store these items safely in a shed, your basement, or in the garage. Keeping these items outdoor and exposed to the elements could cause them to suffer premature wear and tear from the snow, ice, and excessively cold temperatures.

It's especially important to remember to disconnect your garden hose, drain it, and put it away for the winter. If you leave the hose outside, any moisture left inside could freeze and cause it to crack. Also, failure to drain your hose, while keeping it connected to your outdoor spigot, could result in water freezing in your home's pipes connecting to the outside line. When the water in these pipes freezes, it could cause the pipe to break inside your home's walls or floors.

Additional to-do's to add to your checklist:

  • Schedule annual maintenance for your heating system
  • Clear your gutters/downspouts of leaves and outdoor debris
  • Winterize your window and door frames by adding extra sealing, if necessary
  • Trim back tree limbs that hang over your roof or are growing too close to power lines
  • Have your chimney cleaned by a professional to remove ash build-up
  • Check your attic's insulation and add more, if necessary

This homeowner to-do list for the fall should help keep your family warm and comfortable all season long, and also help to keep your home protected from the elements. You should also consider enrolling in a protection program to cover issues arising from normal wear and tear to your home Plumbing, HVAC, or Electrical systems, that may not be covered by your home insurance. For additional resources on how to protect your home, visit: www.AWRUSA.com/details or call (866) 315-4471 to learn more about home system protection programs.
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