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Geneseo Republic - Geneseo, IL
The University of Illinois Tri-County Extension office
Blog: Before winter sets in, here are some projects to check off
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By Farm and Extension News
The University of Illinois Tri-County Extension office covering Livingston, Woodford and McLean counties.
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Here are some home maintenance projects to accomplish before winter sets in:

Service your heating system: As much as 80 percent of emergency calls answered by heating specialists are the result of improper maintenance. Schedule an appointment soon so you can beat the rush and help avoid a breakdown in the middle of a freeze.

Check and replace filters: Fall is also the perfect time to check your furnace filters and replace if necessary. Efficient operation distributes heat better and cuts your energy costs. Plus, it's an inexpensive and easy task.

Protect your pipes: Have you plumbing looked at and water lines insulated. Cleaning all lines can help remove clogs. Clogs cause back ups, which can freeze, then cause the weakening of pipes and bursting. Wrap your pipes with insulation designed for plumbing. In many situations, insulation will be all you need to protect your pipes.

Drain water from your water heater: You can improve your water heater's efficiency by 50 percent by draining sediment build up from the holding tank.

Add insulation: This is one of the lowest-cost options for improving the energy efficiency of your home. The proper amount of insulation you should have depends on the climate you live in. Obviously, the colder the weather, the more you need. Look in your attic, if you see exposed two-by four's, you are due for more insulation.

Seal drafts: Caulk, seal and weather-strip where drafts are detected. Walk through your home with a lit stick of incense or a candle. Drafts will pull the smoke that direction, making it easier to determine where the cold air is seeping in.

Schedule a chimney sweep: Creosote build-up can lead to a chimney fire.You should have your chimney inspected at least once a year; more often if you use it regularly.

Check your gutters: Gutter blockage of dead leaves and other muck can cause serious water damage. If they are clogged, hire a professional for a cleaning. If they are not clogged, check again after the leaves have fallen.

Rake up the leaves: Fallen leaves will deprive your grass of crucial sunlight during the fall months. Leaves can also accumulate and get wet, leading to mold growth and a breeding ground for pests.

Vehicle inspection: Summer travel can take a toll on your car. Schedule a maintenance check with your mechanic so it will be in good working order to endure the long winter months. If you haven't packed your trunk with an emergency kit, now is the time.

Clean and store your outdoor furniture: This will help prevent rust and damage from freezing. If you store your outdoor furniture inside for the winter (which is recommended, if at all possible) allow for some airflow. Encasing the furniture tightly in plastic could lead to moisture damage.

Properly discard or store paint, caulk or adhesives in a heated area to prevent them from freezing: Call your local hazardous material removal service for instructions on discarding products that could be toxic. Drain all gasoline containers, including lawn mowers and other gasoline-powered tools.

Check your lighting: With dark days ahead, exterior lighting is very important. Check all your bulbs and consider using timers to turn lights on at dusk and off in the morning.

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