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Fall is officially here!  This means cooler temperatures, rainier weather and lots of debris from trees and bushes going dormant. We want you and your home to be well prepared all the way through winter, so we’re here to share some tips and tricks you can start crossing off your list now to help lower your utility bills and protect your precious investment.

Examine your roof/gutters/downspouts for debris
The leaves are changing and the colors are beautiful. Eventually, the leaves start to fall and the piles you rake become playgrounds for neighborhood children to jump in and run through. While we can enjoy the beauty of the fall colors, don’t forget to check your roof, gutters, and downspouts for loose pieces or potential hazards that could cause issues during a winter storm. Look for loose or missing shingles, your chimney and other areas that may cause trouble during winter months.

Check your Heating System
Before we dip too far into the chilly temperatures, and with weather experts predicting a colder than usual winter for us here in Chicago, it would be worthwhile to have a professional. Hiring a technician to inspect your furnace or heat pump will help make sure your system can withstand the winter temperatures, and measure for any carbon monoxide leakage. Not sure who to call? Try Ron’s Heating and Air, they take care of all of our HVAC installation and provide quality home maintenance.

Prepare your fireplace
Some use their fireplace more than their central heater in the fall and winter months. Discard old ashes and ensure the damper is open to allow air to freely move through the chimney. Check the damper handle and springs to ensure the flue is operating correctly. Hire a professional chimney sweep if needed.

Drain your hot water heater
If you live in an area with hard water, extra amounts of sediments could be building up in your tank. Now is a perfect time to drain and make sure rust is not developing in your tank as well.

Check windows and doors for drafts
Most heat in a home is lost through windows and doors, and while most of the heat loss is due to old windows that are not energy efficient, you’ll also want to check the caulk and make sure the window frame is in good condition.

Take care of your irrigation/lawn needs
It seems like just las week we were talking about spring lawn maintenance tips, now we are on the other end of the season and need to make sure our lawns and maintenance tools are ready to endure the winter months. Disconnect all garden hoses and draining the water that remains in faucets, undrained water in pipes can freeze, causing pipes to burst as the ice expands.

Mow your leaves
If you’re like most of the people we know, time is a precious commodity that we don’t want to use raking leaves. If you wait until the leaves are dry (this is a key piece of the tip), you can mow your leaves instead of raking them. Your lawnmower will chop the leaves into small enough pieces and they will decompose and act as nourishment over the winter months.