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The calendar says that winter is more than a month away, but dipping temperatures and snow in parts of the country indicate that winter is already knocking loudly on the door. Make sure your home and property are ready to greet this annual visitor. Complete these tasks soon to protect your investment and reduce the risk of loss.

Service the Furnace

Make sure you not only stay warm this winter, but also stay safe. Gas- and oil-burning furnaces produce carbon monoxide. If this odorless gas builds up in your home, it can make you sick—or worse. Have the furnace inspected by a qualified technician to make sure it is working properly. While you are at it, change the air filter and test your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors.

Clean the Chimney

If you use a wood-burning stove or fireplace, have a qualified inspector examine your chimney annually to make sure it is clean and safe for use. Over time creosote, a tarry byproduct of burning wood, can build up in the chimney if not addressed. The substance is highly flammable and poses a serious fire risk. A chimney fire can soon become a house fire, so don’t risk it.

Clear the Gutters

Remove leaves and other debris from your eaves troughs and downspouts so that water can be safely diverted from your home and its foundation. Debris-filled gutters can lead to ice damming, where water freezes and backs up under the roof shingles. This can lead to insulation, ceiling and wall damage. A little work now can save a lot of work later.

Protect the Plumbing

A little crack can cause a lot of damage. Before the cold really sets in, make sure exposed pipes (e.g., in crawl spaces, near outside walls, etc.) are insulated. Consider wrapping them with UL-approved heat tape. Also shut off water to outside spigots and drain the pipes to prevent them from freezing and bursting. Disconnect garden hoses as well.

Trim the Trees

Nothing is as pretty as a sparkling snow-covered tree … unless it lands on your home or vehicle. Cut down dead trees that could fall and damage your property or hurt people. Remove dead branches and limbs. Trim branches that are touching your home or could rub against it once coated with ice. Also keep trees trimmed enough so that branches don’t provide pathways for wildlife looking for a cozy spot to spend the winter, like your attic.

Prepare Yourself

Preparing your home now will help you reduce your risk of property damage during the coming winter months. For suggestions on how to prepare yourself and the people in your life for severe winter weather, see the tips on the website.

As always, you are invited to contact Hylant to discuss your personal insurance needs or review your homeowners policy.

The above information does not constitute advice. Always contact your insurance broker or trusted adviser for insurance-related questions.

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