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    The cold weather has rolled in and winter is officially here. Have you taken the time to protect your home from the season’s harsh conditions?

    If not, it’s time to do so — before the cold weather impacts your property, your utility bills or, worse yet, your family’s health.

    Here are the most important winter home maintenance tasks

    • Give your heater a tune-up. Have an HVAC technician give your heating system a once-over to make sure all is in tip-top shape. They can also clean your heating system out, check it for leaks, and change out any filters to keep it in prime condition.
    • Have your roof inspected. An inspector can check your roof for leaks, damage, or loose/missing shingles that could put your home at risk in a bad storm. They might even be able to repair the damaged areas on the spot or, at the very least, recommend a reputable handyman to hop on the job fast.
    • Clean out the gutters. If your gutters are full to the brim with leaves and debris, it means water will build up fast if it rains, sleets, or snows. That can cause damage to your roof, siding, trim, and the overall structure of your home. It can also lead to ice dams, which cause even more long-term (and costly) damage.
    • Put your ceiling fans in reverse. Many ceiling fans have a small switch near their base, which allows the blades to spin backward — in a clockwise direction. This helps produce what’s called an “updraft,” sending the heat down and the cool air up, keeping your home warm and cozy all winter long.
    • Check for air gaps. Gaps around windows, doors, siding, door frames, and other entries into the house let warm air out and run up your utility bills when the weather’s cool. Use caulk to plug up any gaps you find, and add weatherstripping around doors where necessary. You shouldn’t be able to feel airflow or see sunlight around any doors or windows from the inside.
    • Turn off your exterior water faucets. Disconnect all hoses and drain any water out that’s remaining in the exterior faucets. Then, flip the faucet shut-off valve in your home. If water freezes in the faucets or the pipes leading to them, it can cause your plumbing to burst — an expensive and tedious issue to repair. You can also add foam faucet covers for extra protection. This isn’t a winter home maintenance task you want to ignore.
    • Insulate your interior pipes. Make sure any pipes near windows, doors or particularly cold areas of the home (like the basement, for example) are well insulated. If they’re not, add foam insulation around them or wrap them in dry towels or blankets — especially if you’re expecting an overnight freeze.
    • Have your chimney swept and cleaned. Call in a chimney sweep inspect your chimney, fireplace, and vents before lighting any Yule logs this year. This can prevent dangerous carbon monoxide from seeping into your home — not to mention chimney fires and other hazards.
    • Replace the batteries on your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors. Nearly a third of all house fires occur in the winter, according to the U.S. Fire Administration. Make sure you have smoke detectors in every room and that each one has fresh batteries as you head into the colder months. Test each detector as well.
    • Inspection your insulation and ducting. Insufficient insulation or leaks in your ductwork can all mean a colder home and higher utility bills this winter. Have both areas professionally inspected as part of your winter home maintenance, and consider additional insulation where needed.
    • Trim your trees. If any tree limbs are hanging over your home, look to be dying, or seem weakened in any way, trim them before the first storm hits. Heavy snow or strong winds could blow weak branches into your roof or home, causing significant and costly damage.
    • Invest in a generator. Are snow storms often causing power outages in your area? Then you might want to put a generator on your wish list this winter. It can help you keep the lights, heat, and other electrical items on during prolonged outages. To cut costs, you could even join forces with a neighbor and go in on one together.

    You can also consider doing some of those indoor winter home maintenance tasks that are less attractive when the weather is nice and the sun’s shining. This includes things like:

    • Cleaning and dusting your refrigerator coils
    • Draining sediment from your water heater
    • Lubing up your garage door springs and chains
    • Replacing your AC filters
    • Cleaning your dryer vents and lint traps
    • Cleaning your oven inside and out

    Get Help With Your Winter Home Maintenance

    Do you need help paying for some of these home repairs or maintenance tasks? Then consider tapping your home equity via a cash-out refinance. Contact your local Embrace loan officer today to learn more about your options.

    Your mortgage options for a smooth journey home.

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