As sure as summer follows spring, winter will follow the fall.

And when you live in a northern climate, you come to understand in a very fundamental way that you must prepare for the coming season.

Around the house, that means you must batten down the hatches. There will be cold, and there will be wetness, whether it is rain, slush or snow, and all these things can damage property and must be kept out of your house.

Ice, blowing winds and frigid temperatures have a way of making outdoor work nasty, so why not do the work now, while the conditions are still relatively pleasant?

To heat your house efficiently and keep the heat inside and the cold outside, here are some pointers that will help you keep snug:

• Clean and service your furnace and have your heating system checked out by a qualified HVAC professional.

• If you remember from last year that your home is cold in certain locations, use spray-in insulation foam to close any gaps between the floor and wall, for instance, or underneath windows.

• Check outside as well. If you have bricks that need repointing, or gaps between brick and the roof, for instance, now is a good time to repair cracked or missing mortar between bricks or to seal any gaps. At the same time, check any exhaust vents or any other “holes” in your wall and caulk around them if needed.

• Like a good hat on your head, extra insulation in the attic can do wonders to keep rising heat within the confines of your home.

At the same time, you must ensure good ventilation so that air quality is not compromised.

• Inspect all exhaust venting, whether it be from a stove, a furnace, a dryer, a bathroom or a tankless water heater. Remove any obstruction, such as bird or wasp nests or debris, which can block a vent and force exhaust gases back into your home. If you have a fireplace, check the chimney to make sure it’s clear.

Moisture and wetness in your home is a problem year-round, but in winter, the potential for damage increases, especially if it involves water.

• Before freezing temperatures hit, turn off outside water, and remove and store your garden hose indoors.

• Clean your eavestroughs so water will not freeze in the troughs or overflow and cause possible leakage through the foundations.

• Make sure the ground around the foundations slopes away from your house. If you have a driveway or walkway, ensure the gap beside the house and any cracks are sealed.

• Check your roof for any damaged shingles that may leak over the winter.

To protect other property from the elements, remember to store outdoor furniture and the barbecue out of the elements. At the very least, cover them with weather-resistant covers and park them where the wind cannot topple them.

Last but not least, put out a snow shovel and a de-icing agent, in preparation for what will come.

– Sylvia Putz is a journalist with an interest in decor and design. She’s written for the TV show Arresting Design; sputz@arrestingdesign.com.