This article originally appeared in the November 2014 issue of Flagstaff Business News.

Winterizing- Easy as ABC, 123

Fall has officially hit Flagstaff, which means the colder weather of winter is just around the corner. It’s time to prep your homes for what the weather could be gearing up to throw at us. From getting your fireplaces and chimneys cleaned and ready, your doors and windows insulated and sealed, checking your roof and gutters, prepping your pipes, and tuning up your furnace, to those odds-n-end last minute items. The list seems long, but we promise it’s as easy as ABC, 123.

One: fireplaces and chimneys. Ensure they’re clean of excess soot and creosote to prevent chimney fires. It’s best to hire a chimney sweeper for the best results. It’s a good idea to put a cap or screen top on your chimney opening, keeping rodents or birds from getting stuck in your chimney or fireplace. Lastly, check your fireplace damper for proper opening and closing. To maintain your fireplace, you’ll need a chimney brush, ash bucket and shovel.

Two: inspecting your doors and windows. This is important in preventing cold air from creeping into your home, and keeping the warm air in. If they’re not sealed correctly cold air comes in, warm air goes out. When checking your doors and windows look for any cracks or gaps in the caulking. If the space between doors/windows and the frame are greater than the width of a nickel, re-caulk that door or window. Use weather stripping to seal gaps, or consider adding extra insulation to your windows. These tips can save you 10-15% on your energy bills.

Three: gutters and roofing. After the leaves fall, but before the snow falls; this is the key on when to clean your gutters. Don’t do it too early, because then you’ll just have to do it again. Don’t do it late, because then everything is already frozen. After gathering the dead, fallen leaves from the gutters, spray water to rinse everything out. This is important because if your gutters clog, water will back up, which will then damage your roof and siding resulting in leaks and ice dams. Installing roof & gutter de-icing kits help keep your gutters flowing. Adding extensions to your downspouts diverts snow melt 3-4 feet away from your foundation. After cleaning your gutters check your roof for any loose, worn out, or missing shingles. Replace ones that are worn out or missing, and use shingle cement to reseal loose ones.

A: pipes. Frozen pipes are a surprise you don’t want to wake up to this winter. To prevent your pipes from freezing disconnect hoses and drain remaining water from the faucets. If you’re leaving for an extended period of time, keep thermostats at 55 degrees and open cabinet doors to allow heat circulation. Buy pipe heating cable to wrap around exposed pipes or add pipe insulating polyethylene tubes. These will protect your pipes to -50 degrees. Don’t forget faucet covers to protect outdoor faucets.

B: furnaces. It’s vital to check your furnaces. You’ll want to inspect and clean out the ducts to ensure there is no dust buildup. Remember to change your air filters monthly.

C: odds-n-ends. It’s recommended checking alarms twice a year. Now is the time to make sure your smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors are working properly and have fresh batteries. Replace old thermostats with ones that are programmable to keep your home at the right temperature. It’s smart to wrap your water heater in an insulation blanket saving energy and improving efficiency.

Living in Flagstaff we’re lucky to experience all four beautiful seasons. With that, it’s crucial that we care and prep our homes to withstand what each season brings. Begin marking these items off your checklist. Once you’re house is prepped that leaves you ready to enjoy the next beautiful Northern Arizona season we love.

Your locally owned and operated HomCo Lumber & Hardware is Northern Arizona’s leading authority on the home improvement industry. Mike Brackin continues to carry on a legacy of expert knowledge, outstanding customer service and specialized services and departments. From professional contractor sales to retail products and services, HomCo Lumber & Hardware has the solutions for your homebuilding, remodeling and repair needs. We’re located at 1763 E. Butler Ave., in Flagstaff. For more information, call (928) 779 6111