1. Turn off exterior faucets. Un-drained water in pipes can freeze easily, which will cause pipes to burst as the ice expands. Start by disconnecting all garden hoses and draining the water that remains in faucets. If you don’t have frost-proof faucets (homes more than 10 to 15 years old typically do not), turn off the shut-off valve inside your home.
2. Remove leaves around your outside unit. The HVAC unit is likely your home’s largest operating system. The compressor part of your air conditioner is located on the exterior of your home and can become inefficient with debris and leaves blocking it. You can even use a vacuum or your hands to remove the debris from the bottom for manual cleaning. Wear gloves if using your hands for manual cleaning and turn off your main breaker first to be safe.
3. Clean your gutters. Leaves clogging your gutters can cause big problems any time of the year. During cooler months, leaves can potentially cause water to backup into your attic and even your basement. Be sure to pay particular attention to gutters that have branches directly over them. Not all trees shed their leaves at the same time, so you may need to check the gutters in both the fall and early winter.
4. Schedule a furnace tune-up. A furnace tune-up not only includes cleaning that keeps your furnace running efficiently, but it also catches small problems before they turn into big problems. If you don’t have one already, install a quality carbon monoxide detector in your bedroom and the main area of your home. Be mindful these detectors typically need to be replaced every five to seven years. Batteries in all detectors, including smoke and fire, need to be replaced annually.