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Living in Northern California, and particularly in the Bay Area, we don’t have to do a whole lot to winterize our homes—no screens to take down or storm windows to install. Still, there are a few important tasks you’ll want to take care of as the weather begins to change.
* Have your roof checked, particularly around chimneys, skylights and vents. Now is the time to find and fix leaks, before the rains start.
* Clean your gutters, downspouts and drainpipes before leaves and other debris come down in heavy winds. Full gutters and drainpipes can result in a water overflow where you least want it.
* Have chimneys professionally cleaned. A buildup of creosote—the by-product of wood combustion—can result in a chimney fire. (Learn more about keeping your chimneys safe and clean at the Chimney Safety Institute of America’s website.)
* Check your smoke detectors and replace batteries if needed. (Check smoke detector batteries twice a year, when you change your clocks in the spring and fall.)
* Check your heating system. Replace filters if needed—a dirty filter makes the furnace work harder and can spread allergens. (PG&E offers a 10-point furnace safety and efficiency checklist and free furnace safety inspections.)
* Replace damaged or missing weatherstripping around windows and doors to stay warm and conserve energy. (The U.S. Department of Energy provides online instructions for the do-it-yourselfer.)