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    Tahoe real estate: 7 tips to prepare your mountain home for cold weather

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    Take advantage of our great weather and begin preparing your house for fall.

    It is smart practice to stay ahead of maintenance issues before they become serious repair problems. In fact, according to Houselogic.com, a home can lose 10 percent of its value if routine maintenance is neglected.

    If you are not sure where to begin, here are seven tasks to get you started:

    1. CHECK YOUR HEATING & AIR CONDITIONING SYSTEM

    Service your heating and air conditioning unit to make sure it is good to go for late fall and winter. Also, check heating vents to make sure they are not covered by furniture or carpet. And, be sure to change your air filter regularly.

    2. REPAIR CRACKS

    While the weather is still dry, caulk any cracks you find in the exterior trim and siding, and around the windows. Polyurethane is one of the better caulks because it is easier to use, can be painted over, and lasts longer than latex.

    3. DE-CLUTTER THE GUTTERS

    Thoroughly-clean gutters in order to allow the rainwater and snow melt to flow properly. After removing large pieces of debris, wash away what is left with a high-powered hose. Trouble often occurs when water backs up on your roof.

    4. CHECK THE ROOF

    While you have the ladder out for the gutters, look for missing or loose roof shingles and fix any problem areas. Cold temperatures combined with rain, ice, snow and wind can damage your roof and cause leaks inside the house as well.

    5. CLEAN THE CHIMNEY BEFORE LIGHTING UP YOUR FIREPLACE

    Fireplace chimneys should be inspected at least once a year and cleaned, if needed. Dirty chimneys are responsible for thousands of home fires every year. When hiring a chimney sweep, make sure he or she is certified by the Chimney Safety Institute of America (CSIA).

    6. REMOVE OUTSIDE CLUTTER

    Go through your yard and garage and donate or toss any items you do not want to keep. Removing clutter alleviates possible problems that often occur in winter months such as rodents, moisture rot, and mold.

    7. TEST CARBON MONOXIDE AND SMOKE DETECTORS

    About 170 people in the United States die every year from carbon monoxide poisoning by non-automotive consumer products, and thousands die from house fires. With proper maintenance of detectors, many of these deaths can be prevented.

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