Winter is just around the corner. Make sure your home is prepared to weather freezing temperatures by adding these two important tasks to your To Do list.

Have Your Furnace Checked

With the onset of chilly fall temperatures you’re sure to have already fired-up your furnace. If you haven’t kept up with having it regularly checked, however, you could run the risk of a malfunction as the fall season draws on and winter draws near.

It’s best to have your furnace cleaned and serviced by an HVAC pro on a biannual basis—ideally in the spring before you run your air conditioner, and in the fall before you turn on the heat. Giving your furnace the proper attention helps to extend its useful life, ensure that it operates efficiently, and helps maintain the air quality inside your home. If you haven’t had your furnace serviced for the season there’s no better time than the present.

Winterize Your Sprinkler System

As freezing temperatures set in it’s important to drain water from within your sprinkler system to help prevent damage caused by frozen pipes. You can drain your system in three ways: manually, automatically, or by using the blow-out method.

First, you should turn off the main water supply to your sprinkler system. Next, you’ll shut off your system’s controller or timer—or switch it to rain mode—to stop signals to the valves.

Here are the three ways to drain your system.

Drain Manually

To drain manually you should open all of your system’s manual valves, including ones near its manifold. Next, elevate all of the fittings so that water within drains out completely. If any water remains in the tubing and freezes the fittings can crack and damage your system.

Drain Automatically

There’s not very much to do using this method. If your system has flush valves installed at low points in the line then every time the system shuts off the valves will open and release water that’s in the lines. So after you shut off your system just verify that the valves work as they should.

Blow Out

You may find this method to be a little more involved than the others. It uses compressed air to blow water out of the lines of your system. You can do this using a basic home-size air compressor. Just be sure that the compressor has at least 50 psi of force (pounds per square inch).

First, remove all of the end fittings within your sprinkler system–if you don’t you’ll run the risk of damaging the system. You’ll then blow-out the manual drain valves. Remember to close the valves when you’re done.

If you feel that this method is a little too complicated to do yourself, consider hiring an irrigation specialist.

After You Drain the System

After you drain your sprinkler system make sure you remove any faucet assembly, like the timer, pressure regulator, and filter, and store them indoors so they’ll be protected from freezing temps. Seal-off the open faucet end of your sprinkler system using a female hose fitting, or simply cover it with some type of barrier that’s secured in place, to keep small animals from sheltering inside throughout the winter.