There are no active watches, warnings or advisories

It may not be winter yet, but do not wait for it to arrive to start getting the house ready for the coldest months of the year.

Preparing a home for winter will take time and should not be rushed. Neglecting certain projects or carelessly completing them can lead to major system failures, extensive damage and in extreme cases even health problems.

"Procrastinating can cost you when it comes to getting ready for winter," says Rhonda Hills, of "Systems that are not ready for heavy use can falter or even fail. This can be a recipe for disaster."

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The home experts at recommend the following actions to get the home ready for the cooler temperatures ahead.

Have the chimney inspected and cleaned - If you have a wood-burning fireplace, the inside of the chimney can be a dirty place, and this has the potential to cause some problems if not addressed. Over time a combustible material called creosote can build up on the inside of the chimney. If not regularly removed, this substance can catch fire, causing major damage to the home and resulting in serious injuries or even death. Chimneys should be inspected and cleaned by a professional at least once a year to ensure all creosote is removed and the chimney is ready for use.

Get the furnace serviced - Heating systems will be putting in a lot of overtime as the temperatures plummet, and it is important to have them serviced so they can handle the load. Well maintained systems will operate more efficiently, which lowers heating costs. They will have a longer lifespan too. During an inspection, the heating expert will evaluate and clean the heat exchanger, ensure the burners and pilots ignite properly, clean the system's blower and more.

Seal all air ducts - Air ducts can be punctured, torn or become disconnected, all of which will cause heated air to spew into the attic, basement or crawlspace before it reaches the home's interior. These leaks waste a lot of energy and can cause heating bills to be much higher than they should be. To ensure all of the heated and cooled air that is being paid for makes its way into the living space, patch and repair all ducts as soon as possible

Add insulation - According to the U.S. Department of Energy, 80 percent of homes built before 1980 are not well insulated, so chances are your home is not as insulated as it should be. Adding insulation is one of the fastest, cheapest ways to retain heat and save on heating bills. Insulation is available in a variety of materials and is rated by R-values, or how well the insulation resists the transfer of heat. Insulation needs will vary by region and are dependent on local climate conditions and heating costs.

Protect pipes and exterior faucets - Freezing temperatures can wreak havoc on pipes and exterior faucets. As water freezes, it expands and can burst plumbing lines and fixtures. These ruptures cause a great deal of damage to the home and leave homeowners with some very expensive repairs. Before cooler temperatures settle in, wrap all exposed plumbing in insulation to ensure the pipes are ready for the worst Old Man Winter can dish out.

Visit for more home improvement advice or find a highly rated professional in the Cape Cod area who can help you get your projects done.

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