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" Hi. Just bought my first house and am thinking about what needs to be done to prepare it for the cold new jersey winter. Because i'm a novice, i have no idea what one does to winterize a house. Here's my checklist so far:

- Clean gutters (to prevent ice dams)
- Have furnace serviced
- Insulate water pipe that leads to exterior faucet
- Buy salt, shovel and back brace
- Open blocked vent in attic for ventilation
- Buy firewood and candles

what am i missing?


First of all, congratulations on buying your first home!

Your winter checklist is excellent; sounds like you have a lot of common sense. Here are some additions you may want to consider for your list.

- Remove hoses from all exterior faucets to prevent pipes from bursting.

- When you have your furnace serviced, if you have a humidifier, have it serviced also. Or vacuum the motor on rotating pad humidifiers. Also if oil ports are visible you may need to add a couple of drops of three-in-one oil (use the blue and white can). Then clean or replace the filter. BTW, be sure to clean reusable filters or replace disposable furnace filters monthly.

- Check for gaps and cracks around windows and doors. Use weather stripping or caulk (before the weather gets cold) as needed.

- If you have a sump pump, be sure it is operational. Clean gutters will also help keep water away from the foundation - very important!

- Don't encase your air conditionner in a plastic cover. You'll trap moisture in it. If you have to do something with it, just put a board or cover on the top only.

- Remove window air conditionner units.

- Use a snow melting product other than rock salt on concrete surfaces. Excessive rock salt causes concrete deterioration on flat surfaces. Though I have no personal experience with it, I've heard of a product called Enviro-Met Deicer Pellets. It's apparently non corrosive, environmentally safe (biodegradable and has low toxicity to vegetation and aquatics).

- Have a professional also inspect you fireplace and flues for leaks and blockage by creosote and debris.

- Have at least one carbon monoxide detector in your home that meets current Underwriters Lab standards.

- If you use a kerosene heater, follow the safety instructions that came with it!

- Store some matches with the candles you mentionned.

In addition to preparing your home for winter, also remember winter driving safety tips. We just bought some sand bags for our son to store in the trunk of his Honda along with jumper cables, flashlight, etc. Here is a site with good information:

Also, don't forget the birds in winter! In addition to seed, suet, etc., they need a supply of fresh water.

When the first winter storm arrives, light up your fireplace and sit back and relax!

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