With Old Man Winter right around the corner, Haliburton County-based home inspector Mike Rahme is providing some helpful tips for easy-to-tackle jobs that will help prepare your home for the big freeze.

“There are many simple things you can do to prevent winter damage and keep your home warm and comfortable all season long,” said Rahme, who owns HomePro Inspections.

“Winterizing your home starts in the fall, before the weather starts cooling off dramatically.”

Roof inspections should be the number one job on a handyman’s to-do list. Check your roof to ensure your shingles are intact. Loose shingles will need to be refastened with galvanized or zinc coated nails to avoid any displacement, leaks or damage. While you’re up there, also make sure your gutters and downspouts are free and clear of leaves and branches.

It’s a good idea, too, to have a look at any trees on your property. If you notice any damage, or are unsure, it might be a good idea to call an arborist to provide a professional opinion. The last thing anyone wants is for a dead tree to come tumbling down and damage your roof in the depths of winter.

Another big one is making sure you’ve turned off all outside taps.

“Many cottages and homes today utilize frost proof hose bibs. The beauty of these is that when you shut them off, the remaining water in the pipe trickles out there by rendering the hose bib to not freeze vulnerable,” Rahme said. “On the other hand, if the hose bib is not frost proof, you will have to locate the shut off valve inside the house and turn it off, then go back outside to open the valve and allow the remaining water to drain out.”

Any gaps and cracks that might have appeared around windows and doors should be sealed with caulk. “Any gaps wider than the width of a nickel between your siding and window or door frames should be treated. This is essential to keeping your home warm and using less energy this winter.”

Rahme also recommends getting your chimney inspected and cleaned before lighting it for the first time. “This should be done even if wood is not your primary source of heat and you only use your fireplace for aesthetic purposes.”

He also suggests getting somebody in to service your HVAC unit.

“Regular maintenance can improve performance, increase the life of your unit and save you money,” he said. Some common signs of a unit requiring maintenance include leaking around the outside unit, inconsistent temperatures, or having your system constantly turning on and off. Air filters should be replaced on units every three months.

Finally, Rahme advises homeowners to keep their driveways clear and 911 sign easily visible. “This should be your new obsession. Should an emergency occur, our first responders can’t help you if they can’t get to you.”