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It won’t be long before you have to close your windows or turn off your air conditioner to keep your house comfortable for winter. So it’s the perfect time to consider these five easy do-it-yourself tasks that can set you up for a warm, safe and pest-free holiday season.

Give a little love to your HVAC system

Heating and cooling systems need regular maintenance to operate at peak efficiency. Some tasks are best left to the pros, but there is plenty you can do on your own to minimize expenses and ensure your HVAC unit maintains its performance level. First, turn off the electrical breaker and, if your system is gas-fueled, also turn off the natural gas. Then wipe the exterior of your furnace with a damp rag. Then remove the access door and vacuum the elements and burners, base and blower compartment. Remove and clean the blower with a vacuum and small brush. Then for gas systems, use a drinking straw to blow dust off the pilot, and also inspect the flame sensor and drive belt. If the filter is dirty, replace it.

Seal drafty areas

The gaps around windows and door frames give unwanted air an open invitation into a home. However, you can quickly and easily block the flow of air for greater comfort and lower energy bills. If the doors and windows are already finished, start by removing the trim. Prep the area by removing dust and debris. Using a quality sealant, apply the foam to fill in about 50 percent of the gap around the window or door and framework, allowing room for the foam to expand. Wipe away imperfections and let sit 10 minutes to 15 minutes until it’s no longer tacky. Gently press the expanded foam into the gap using a putty knife.

Check for damage to hardscaping

Walkways, patios and decks are susceptible to wear that can lead to tripping hazards or allow rain and ice to seep in and create larger problems. Take time to assess these hardscape features thoroughly and identify issues like loose stones and cracks in concrete that need repairs. Securing materials, filling cracks and patching problem areas can help prevent further damage during the colder months while restoring aesthetic appeal.

Inspect your home’s exterior

Many elements of your home serve essential roles in protecting your safety, regulating your home’s efficiency and preventing damage. It’s important to regularly check your roof for signs it needs repaired, such as missing or cracked shingles or noticeable sagging. Gutters can also accumulate a great deal of debris from falling leaves. Clearing these before cooler temperatures set in can help to ensure rain has a clear path away from your home, protecting the walls and foundation. Also pay attention to other elements, such as paint that may require periodic updates to maintain its protective function.

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Eliminate entry points for pests

When temperatures start dropping, you’re likely to see some movement with creatures that want to enjoy the comfort of your home. Make it clear they’re not welcome by sealing up places they may be creeping in. Pest-blocking sealants let you fill gaps and openings with a quick bead of foam. If a rodent has an established pathway, try using a combination of steel wool and the foam to deter it from gnawing through the barrier. 

Find additional tips for seasonal home projects at

Family Features contributed to this story.

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