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Time to Winterize Your Home with These 9 Tips.

The calendar may say it's early November (about halfway through fall), but we all know what's coming. Winter, or at least the first snowfall, will likely be here before Thanksgiving. So if you haven't started winterizing your home - or even think about it - now is a very good time to get on it.

Cold weather, and the snow and ice that come with it, can wreak havoc on your home. From keeping heat indoors to preventing a roof collapse, here are the 10 most important things you can do right now to prevent a boatload of problems down the road.

Rain gutters

A blocked gutter won't drain. In winter, that leads to ice, which can lead to all kinds of damage to your home. Be sure to clear out any leaves and other debris that has accumulated in your gutters and spray the downspout to make sure melting snow and ice from your roof can easily drain.

Hoses

Where there's water, there's the potential for ice. And where there's ice, there's potential damage. Disconnect all hoses and, if possible, shut off the water supply to outside spouts.

Windows

The cost of heating your home isn't going down anytime soon, and it's all too easy for those heating costs to go right out the door (or window). Caulk and/or install weather-stripping around ALL your windows and doors to keep warm air inside and cold air outside - where it belongs.

Outdoor equipment

You won't be needing that lawnmower or leaf blower again until spring, so when it comes time to store them, be sure to drain the gas and oil from them. As for those rakes, shovels and other gardening tools and equipment, give them a good cleaning, dry them and store them in a safe place.

Snow removal equipment

You may not need it now, but when you do, you want your snowblower to start on the first pull. There's no predicting when that first "real" snowfall of the year will come, so be sure to prep and tune it up (or hire someone to do it for you) sooner, rather than later. Get your snow shovels and other snow-removal tools out of storage and replace those that have seen better days. If you don't already have one, you might want to invest in a roof rake to clear snow and prevent damage to your roof. Stock up on ice melt and put it - along with all your snow-removal gear - in a convenient location.

Roof

Snow and ice can make your roof vulnerable to leaks and potential collapse, so make sure your roof is ready for whatever winter can throw at it. Check shingles, tiles and flashing for damage and wear. Repair or replace anything that could allow into your home. Hire a professional to determine your roof's ability to sustain the heavy weight of snow and ice, especially if you live in an older house.

Attic

It's a scientific fact that heat rises. If your attic isn't properly insulated, the heat from your home could rise right up to your roof, where it could cause ice dams to form. Make sure your attic is adequately insulated to prevent that from happening. A good thing to remember is that a little extra insulation can't hurt.

Fireplace

There are few things more enjoyable than relaxing in front of a warm fire on a cold winter day, but there's nothing relaxing about a chimney fire. Have a professional inspect, clean and repair your chimney. Make sure the damper opens and closes properly, and keep it closed when it's not in use.

Furnace

Imagine waking up on the coldest day of winter to find that your furnace has stopped working. Not a pretty picture, is it? That's why it's worth having a professional inspect it, clean your ducts and make any necessary fix.

We're already starting to feel winter in the air, and the mercury is only going to keep dropping over the next three to four months. By tackling these nine winter prep items now, you'll put yourself in a great position to avoid being left out in the cold later.

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