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With fall in full swing, a little pre-season home maintenance can go a long way toward protecting your investment and saving on utility bills all winter.

Here are 7 ways you can prep your home for the cold weather ahead:

  1. Hit the roof. Have a professional do a quick roof inspection and replace damaged shingles, corroded flashings or leaky vents.
  1. Clean the gutters. Clogged gutters can lead to damaged exterior surfaces and sometimes water in your basement. Check your gutters for fallen leaves and consider covering them with mesh guards to keep debris from collecting.
  1. Tune the heating system. For under $100, you can hire a technician that will inspect your furnace or heat pump to be sure the system is clean and in good condition, and that there is no carbon-monoxide leakage. While you’re at it, change or clean dirty furnace filters.
  1. Check for drafts. Seal any gaps or cracks around windows and doors with weather-stripping and caulk.
  1. Prep the hearth. Prevent chimney fires and keep carbon monoxide from creeping into your home by making sure your fireplace, chimney and vents are clean and in good condition. A certified chimney sweep will charge $50 to $90 for the inspection and $100 to $300 for the cleaning.
  1. Update detectors. Replace the batteries in each smoke or carbon monoxide detector. Rule of thumb is to replace them twice annually.
  1. Guard against freeze damage. If you live in a climate where water freezes during cold weather, disconnect all garden hoses and drain the faucets. You may need to call in a professional to drain sprinkler system pipes.

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