State Farm tips to prepare your home for winter

As the cold weather approaches, State Farm reminds property owners to prepare their homes for the upcoming winter season.

>>Experts: Get heating units inspected to stay safe, warm this season

Here are State Farm’s tips to prepare your home for winter.

Clean out your gutters

Clearing out your gutters and downspouts should usually be done a few times a year, depending on how many trees you have, but emptying them before the freezing temperatures set in is an important first step.

Assess your roof

Roof maintenance is best done before the cold sets in. Do a visual inspection by looking for sections where the shingles are cracking, bending or missing, and for loose screws or rusted panels for potential leaks.

Protect your wood deck

Sweep your deck clean of fallen leaves and other dirt and debris. If you didn’t apply a fresh coat of sealer in the spring, now may be the time to do that before the snow starts falling. You can lay a large tarp down to protect your wood or make sure to be diligent about using a plastic shovel for snow removal.

Flush your sprinklers

Pay special attention to outdoor water sources. If you lawn has a sprinkler system, shut the water off before the ground freezes.

Check your snowblower

If you haven’t run your snowblower in a while, you may want to change the motor oil, spark plug and air filter beforehand. You’ll also want to lubricate the chute, levers and linkages throughout the machine so that everything turns easily once removing snow.

Bring in outdoor plants, furniture and grill

Clean your outdoor furniture and store in your garage or shed. Any yard equipment used during summer should be cleaned up and stored in a dry place. For your garden hose, disconnect it from your faucet and put it away. For mowers, scrape off any grass that’s on the blades, which can be done with a putty knife or wire brush, and change the oil, air filter and spark plug to be prepared for spring.

Seal gaps around your doors and windows

Keep your heating bills down and make sure your home is blocking out the cold air by adding weather stripping to your doors and caulk any window gaps. To prevent a draft, also make sure all windows stay locked.

Protect your pipes

Unheated interior spaces like your garage, attic or basement are most at risk for frozen pipes. Insulate exposed water pipes, such as those in crawl spaces or that run along outside walls, floors or ceilings. Use heat tape or thermostatically controlled heat cables to wrap pipes. Keep your garage closed as much as possible and don’t let the temperature of your house fall under 55 degrees.

Clean your chimney and check fireplace flue

Hire a professional for a certified fireplace and chimney inspection and cleaning before winter. An inspection will determine if there has been any buildup through the off-seasons and test your flue for a tight seal when closed.

Test-run your heating system and replace filter

Change the air filter in your furnace and check its efficiency. Stock up on several air filters for the winter and change them every month. Call an HVAC professional to come out and inspect it for you to make sure everything is operational. During their inspection, they’ll clean the furnace and change the filter for you.

Cover your water heater

To stop your hot water heater from losing heat as quickly, you can buy a water heater insulation blanket from your local home improvement store and save some money on your heating bill.

Install a programmable thermostat

Using a smart or programmable thermostat will save the average consumer over eight percent of their energy, or $50 annually. These new thermostats will also allow you to customize the temperatures in your home based on your personal preference. Many brands have an app for your phone so you can control your thermostat remotely.

Change batteries and test smoke detectors

Winter is peak season for home fires and carbon monoxide poisoning so change the batteries in detectors and test them to make sure they’re working properly.