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Depending on where you live, winter could mean low temperatures, snow and ice. In late summer and early fall, start thinking about the upcoming winter and doing everything necessary to prepare your home for the changing conditions.

Unclog the Gutters
Clogged gutters can prevent water from melted snow from draining. Water that pours over the side of the house instead of going through the gutters can damage the siding and foundation and flood the basement. If water in the gutters refreezes, it can form ice dams that can damage the roof, gutters and siding. These problems can be prevented by cleaning out the gutters and downspouts. If you aren’t up to the task of climbing a ladder and scooping wet leaves out of the gutters yourself, hire a company to do it.

Clean and Protect Air Conditioners
If you have air conditioners that sit in windows, take them out when the weather turns cooler. Clean the units and coils, cover the ACs, and put them in storage. If you have an outdoor air conditioning unit, cover it to protect it from ice, leaves and branches.

Keep Your Home Warm
Have your heating system inspected and serviced, and check that the filters are clean and in good condition. Remove any dirt and dust from vents, and make sure they aren’t blocked by furniture or curtains.

A significant percentage of the heat used in homes is lost through drafts. Check your home for drafts around windows and doors, and seal any you find. That can keep your home warm and lower your energy bills. If you have storm windows, install them in preparation for winter.

A dirty chimney can release smoke, soot and carbon monoxide into your house. If you plan to use a fireplace in the winter, have both the fireplace and chimney cleaned and inspected. You can clean the fireplace yourself, but you should have a professional clean the chimney and inspect the damper and other components to make sure everything is working properly.

Get the Outside of Your House Ready for Winter
If you have an outdoor faucet or sprinkler, drain it before the temperature drops. If water inside pipes freezes, the pipes can burst and cause damage that’ll be expensive to repair.

Check your driveway for cracks. If water gets into a small crack, it can expand and eventually cause a large crack or pothole. Sealing cracks can prevent major damage in the winter.

Tackle Important Jobs Now
Preparing your home for winter can be time consuming, but taking care of these tasks now can save you a lot of time, money and headaches later. Divide up the chores with other family members and spread them out over several weeks so you can get everything done in time for winter without feeling overwhelmed.