Sandal and swim-suit season seems like only yesterday, but Old Man Winter’s right around the corner. You can procrastinate over digging out that fleece-lined parka and your fuzzy mittens, but, take it from the experts at Malcarne Contracting: No matter how difficult it is to say so long to summer, don’t put off getting your house ready for the upcoming season. The good news is, preparing your home for the winter and its icy temperatures means a series of small, inexpensive precautions that ultimately make a huge difference in the way your home handles the cold.

While you spend the summer keeping the air conditioner company, get to know your heating system – before you need to turn it on. Boilers – systems running on oil – should be serviced once a year, and their filters and nozzles changed every fall to prepare for winter. Furnaces also have filters – and most manufacturers recommend changing those every three months, in addition to being serviced by a professional every fall. Gas-fired units should receive a tune-up every two years.

Keeping these heating systems clean and running smoothly – what the professionals call “system efficiency” – is key. Also, making sure the distribution system, the duct work and piping that delivers the heat that is generated by your heating system, is working correctly is important, as a clogged filter, for example, may mean your furnace isn’t functioning properly. Or, a loose piece of ductwork, knocked out during your trek to the attic for vacation suitcases, may make one side of the house feel frosty, although the other end of the home is sweltering at 80. Keeping a balanced system means regular visits from a professional, but maintaining your heating unit is a small investment with a big return, ensuring optimal energy efficiency – and saving you money on that utility bill.

While these maintenance checks are important, they’re also pieces in the greater puzzle that is your abode. For example, a heating system is only as good as your home’s insulation, which ensures a comfortable, energy-efficient house, and should be checked regularly. Outdoor hoses connected to water spigots should be removed and taken inside in the fall, and the water turned off.
Avoid damage to your home’s exterior by inspecting your deck and siding once a year, replacing any cracked, splintered or rotting boards as soon as possible, and cleaning gutters and down spouts in the spring and fall. If you have a chimney, repair any cracks before the first frost: Ice in any cracks can damage it considerably. Keep seasonal pollen, dust and other allergens at bay by limiting the amount your doors and windows stay open, cleaning and vacuuming regularly, and making sure those heating filters are fresh.

Malcarne’s expert opinion? Whether it was built last year or last century, look at your home as a whole each fall. If you’re unsure of your home’s inner-workings or it’s been a while since it’s been professionally evaluated, the staff at Malcarne can make the process simple, checking your house’s insulation, heating and ventilation systems, window and door weather-stripping – everything you need to prepare for winter, from attic to basement.

As a general rule, Malcarne recommends giving your home that once-over early in the season, before the end of October. Thankfully, if you’re faithful with keeping up your home’s regular maintenance, preparing it for another Hudson Valley winter won’t empty your bank account. In fact, your family’s biggest winterizing investment may be those new boots your kids have been eyeing up. Your house? It’s all set for the snow.