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All homeowners should know the drill by now: You end up waiting until the first autumn chill is in the air before you start making sure your house is ready for winter.

Sure, you might have put off these easy maintenance projects all summer, but now that Labor Day has come and gone, it’s time to prepare your place to be in peak condition—long before the cold weather arrives. Think of it as saving on your fuel bill and putting the money in the bank—or in your holiday fun fund.

It’s understandable why you might want to procrastinate when it’s hot outdoors. That’s natural. Or you might believe the tasks are just too demanding and complicated for the weekend warrior to tackle. That’s a mistake you don’t need to make. It’s much simpler than you think to follow these easy tips from Alure Home Improvements. If your house could speak, it’d probably thank you when you’re done.

First, check the outside of your house for cracks in the exposed foundation, especially where pipes or wires enter the house. Look around the windows and door frames for gaps that could prove costly when the winter energy bills are added up as your warm air inside starts flowing out. All you need to do is caulk and seal the openings with water-resistant material.

If you see any paint peeling off or blistering on the outside of your house, that’s a sign that the siding is losing protection. Left untreated, it will eventually deteriorate, and that will definitely be an expensive repair job. See if you can add another coat of a tough exterior paint to prevent that from happening.

Make sure your gutters and downspouts can do what they’re meant to do—before the heavy rains and winter snows come and it’s too late. Now is the time to remove all the leaves and debris. Flush the gutters with water from your garden hose to ensure that the downspouts aren’t clogged. A free-flowing downspout helps prevent ice dams from forming on your roof and damaging it. Replace your old and leaky gutters with new models that come with built-in leaf guards. Just be sure no yellow jackets or wasps have chosen to build their nests in there before you start repairing your gutters!

Now, take a good look at your roof. If shingles are loose or missing, bad weather could do some serious damage to your home. If the situation looks bad, you should have a licensed professional inspect the roof closer. Of course, Allure Home Improvements is always ready to help you.

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Here’s another tip. Make sure the gap where your garage door meets the ground isn’t large enough to allow in a small animal, or, worse, winter snow and ice. Add weather-stripping to the door and make the seal tight. Your job isn’t done until you’ve organized your garage and thrown out everything you no longer need. Then put your winter shovels and snow blowers where you can access them easily. If it’s been a while since you ran your blower, now’s the time to test it out.

Inspect your outdoor railings and your front and back outdoor steps. If the handrails remain loose, they won’t support someone coming up your stoop who is suddenly slipping on the ice and needs them for support. Also check your porches, patios and decks to make sure they’re in good shape. Store your outdoor furniture and cover your barbecue grill securely. Better yet: Move it into the garage.

Now, this is really important: Drain all your garden hoses and store them inside your garage so they won’t be exposed to the elements all winter. Shut off all your outdoor water valves before the first frost comes and drain any leftover water from them. If you don’t do that, the faucets could freeze and break the pipes.

As for your lawn, don’t think that because it’s autumn, you don’t have anything to do but rake the leaves. You should add fertilizer with a high phosphorous mix to make sure your grass is healthy once winter is over. Also, take the time to reseed those dry patches and plant flower bulbs that will bloom in the spring. You’ll be glad you did!

And that’s what it’s all about: keeping up with the seasons, rather than letting them beat you!

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