From a couple week stretch of 100 + degrees (a whole month of 90 + degrees) to low 70’s daytime/40’s at night with light rain basically overnight is a real eye opener and a mind jogger that summer is over and winter is just around the corner. So there it is staring you right in the face…the kids are back in school, the days are getting shorter and that pesky ‘Ol list of things that need to be done before fall remains right there in front of you with none of the chores/projects lined out/completed as of yet. What to do, what to do? Well, don’t sit there…let’s jump up, roll up our sleeves and get going before it’s too late! Maybe we ought to prioritize things…first things first. In case we have an early, heavy rainstorm, why don’t we make sure the leaves and tree debris are swept off of the roof and the roof rain gutters are cleaned out? While you are up on the roof, check the roof covering material and flashings for any kind of wear or damage, and if there are issues, either repair and seal them or contact a Roofing Contractor right away to avoid water damage to the interior of the house and inevitable wait to get a Roofer because of the backlog of calls that always occur after the first rains occur. Then, let’s take a quick walk around the house and double check all the drainage areas where that rain water is going to run to and let’s make sure that the water isn’t going to run towards the house foundations and collect there. It wouldn’t hurt to walk the yard also to make sure that there won’t be areas that standing water can occur and create a nuisance or worse. If you have trees on your property, giving them a visual once over wouldn’t be a bad idea to see if there are any branches that have either grown to a point that they may be a hazard if they broke off from high winds or a heavy snow load, or they have died and need to be removed before Mother Nature does it for you. Probably taking a second slow lap around the house is in order, but this time will be to really take a close look at the siding, windows, doors and trim to determine if they are all in decent condition, looking sealed and secure and ready to fend off another winter season. Re-nail or screw down any loose or warped siding and trim, and, caulk and seal any gaps and cracks where needed and seal with a coat of paint. While you are at it, now is the time to check the fit of the doors and windows into their frames and to make sure that the weather stripping is intact to prevent heat loss and drafts. If you have an evaporative cooler (swamp cooler), now is the time to turn the water off to it, drain the water supply lines and the base pan of the cooler itself. If you have time, servicing the cooler would be a could way to have the unit ready to go for next season, but if not, then at least covering the cooler with an appropriate canvass cover will help protect the unit from the ravages of winter. Finally, it’s time to think about the heating systems that will be keeping you and your family warm during those cold winter months. If you have a gas fired forced air furnace or heat pump system, it probably is safest and most cost effective to have a licensed HVAC Contractor clean, service and inspect the entire system to make sure every thing is safe and operable for the heating season. You could change out the air filter and vacuum the accessible portions of the heating unit and the registers, but this basically just scratches the surface of what should be done. If you have a wood burning appliance (wood stove, insert, pellet stove) or a fireplace, checking these is really important not just from the need for them to provide heat this winter, but for safety reasons as they can pose a real fire hazard if they are not functioning properly or if they or their flue/chimney systems are in poor condition. Again, you can clean the units and their related equipment and inspect them yourself, but you really need to know what to look for and know what to do if something is out of order. Having a qualified Chimney Sweep perform this cleaning and inspection is usually a much better, cleaner and safer way to go, which usually is actually very reasonable in cost. OK, good job! Now you can go inside and relax as you should be pretty much ready for ‘Ol Man Winter to show up.