Written by: April S. Engram

Sunday, September 25th is National Tune-Up Day, a day to remind homeowners to prepare for colder days ahead, tune-up their furnaces, and winterize their homes. Winter storms can wreck your home.  Ice, snow, rain and wind are all potential dangers. Taking preventive steps now to winterize your home can make it safer and may even save you money and time allowing for a cozier winter season.

Prepare your home

Check your heating system: Before firing up your furnace, boiler or chimney, have your heating system(s) serviced to make sure they are working properly. It’s a good idea to have these checked at least once a year.

Inspect and insulate pipes: Carefully inspect pipes for cracks and leaks and have them repaired as soon as possible. Insulate exposed pipes and seal cracks to prevent them from leaking or even bursting.

Know the location of the main water shutoff valve: If your pipes freeze, the faster you shut off the water, the better chance you have of preventing them from bursting and causing major damage.

Check your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors: As the mercury drops and more of us light fires in the fireplace and use indoor heaters, residential fires and carbon monoxide poisoning increase, according to the Insurance Information Institute. Check your detectors regularly to make sure they are working.

Clean out gutters: Remove leaves, sticks and other debris from gutters so rain and melting snow can flow freely. This will help prevent backed up gutters and water seeping into your house.

Trim trees and remove dead branches: Ice, snow, wind and rain can cause weak trees and tree limbs to fall and damage your car or home – or fall on people walking on or near your property.

Seal exterior cracks and holes: To keep your energy bill low and your home free of mold, caulk openings and install weather stripping around windows and doors to prevent cold air and moisture from entering.

Be Prepared — stock up on emergency items

Be sure you have flashlights and a portable radio with extra batteries, any necessary medications, at least three days of water and non-perishable food for family and pets, a can opener, first-aid supplies, heating fuel, and a lighter and/or generous supply of matches.

Don’t forget insurance

For information about auto and home insurance, call to speak with a AAA insurance agent at 866-222-7868 or visit your local AAA Travel & Insurance Center.