A few nights of frost have already descended on the region, and for homeowners that means taking a look at what needs to be done to prepare for the winter.

Those tasks can be broken down into different sections, including inside the home, the home’s exterior and what can be done to help a flower or vegetable garden better weather the winter while helping homeowners get a jump start on the spring.

Following is a list of recommendations from specialists in Grand Forks to help homeowners get through the coldest months in safe and efficient way.

Inside the house

Making sure the furnace is in top working order should be a priority for homeowners, and that means checking and changing its air filters. Dirty air filters mean a furnace might not get enough airflow while its burners are on, which could trip a high limit switch and shut it down, according to Paul Plutowski, at C.L. Linfoot.

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“That’s probably one of the top things,” said Plutowski.

Furnaces and fireplaces can also be inspected annually to ensure they are functioning efficiently.

Checking and replacing batteries for smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors is important to make sure those devices are working properly. This also includes digital thermostats, “so you don't wake up at two o'clock in the morning to find out the thermostat is off and you're cold,” said Brent Gilles, owner of Viking Electric. Gilles added that people who have generators should make sure they are in good working order.

Reversing the direction of a ceiling fan, so that it runs clockwise, will also help to pull up cool air from the floor and disperse warm air that collects near the ceiling.

Help control energy costs by installing storm doors and windows. The extra barrier prevents cold air from entering, and heat from escaping, the home.

Outside the house

According to Stacy Hanson, executive officer of Forx Builders Association, cleaning debris from gutters can help prevent ice dams. Installing gutter guards is one way to help keep them clean. Hanson also says it’s necessary to protect exterior pipes from freezing temperatures, either by insulating them, or draining water from them. Doing so will help prevent those pipes from bursting and causing water damage.

Outdoor furniture and grills can be brought into a basement or garage to protect them from winter weather, but care is needed for propane tanks.

“If you have a propane grill, be sure to disconnect propane tanks first before storing the grill, as propane tanks should be stored outside,” Hanson told the Herald.

Gardens

Potted and tropical plants can be brought inside for the winter, but a systemic pesticide should be applied two weeks before doing so, so pests and bugs don’t come in with the plant. Recent colder nights should also help with this. Repotting those plants can be done in the spring.

As for perennials, they can be cut down, but leave 4 inches of stalk so they can collect snow. That will act as a layer of insulation to protect those plants.

“Perennials are susceptible to the hot and cold freeze and thaw of early and late seasons, so extra snow and extra insulation is always good for them,” said Jan Heitmann, at All Seasons Garden Center.

Flower and vegetable gardens can be fertilized later in October, to get the soil ready for spring Heitmann said. Once spring rolls around and the garden has been tilled and planted, wait for the plants to come up and germinate before fertilizing again.