Every four months, the calendar tells us the official start day of a new season but those changes usually are “cemented” in different ways. Memorial Day is every bit the first day of summer as Labor Day is the last day. Whenever there is that first “chill” in the air, you can declare, “Winter is coming.” Before it gets here, there are things you should do to get your home ready for the winter.

Step 1: Heating Check-up

Picture this scenario: The temperature drops to freezing. You fire up the heat for the first time this year and nothing happens. It’s not working. Time to call the HVAC guy. Guess what? There are probably dozens, if not hundreds of people, doing the exact same thing. Avoid the crush of that emergency call and have a tech come out to inspect your heating system before it gets too cold.

Step 2: Add an A/C Cover

As long as you’re dealing with the heater, you might want to button up the A/C unit. This is for homes with central air. Hose out the condensing unit of any leaves or debris. Then cover the unit to keep is protected from leaves, snow and ice.

Step 3: Fireplace Cleanout

If you have a working fireplace, then you’ll want to make sure it is working this winter. Like your HVAC, you’ll want to bring in a professional for a little chimney sweeping action. That includes cleaning the inside and outside. Every fireplace fire should be a safe one.

Step 4: Hot Water Heater Insulation

Separate from your home heating system is your hot water heater. You should get this inspected, too. If it is in working order, then you might want to wrap it up in an insulation blanket. These are pre-made and easy to install as a DIY project. This keeps the heat in the unit where it belongs as opposed to flowing through your basement where it is going to waste.

Step 5: Clean the Rain Gutters

This task might actually be a two-part job. First, you want to clear the rain gutters to make sure you won’t have issues with icicles or water backing up into your home. Second, hang the Christmas lights. As long as you’re busting out the ladder, you might as well get those lights up. That way on your next day off, your holiday decorating will already be done! Is your home ready for winter?