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Protecting your home in wintertime

Tips for how to protect your house this wacky winter.

By Gerri Willis, CNN

NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) -- It's been such a mild winter that even flowers and cherry blossoms are confused. But it won't stay that way for much longer. Accuweather is predicting that old man winter is right around the corner. In today's top tips we'll tell you what you can do to protect your house from a wacky winter.

1: Keep your heat on

Don't let spring-like temperatures fool you. You should never turn the heat off in your house during the winter, no matter how warm it gets. That's because you want water to be constantly running through your pipes in your home, otherwise your pipes may freeze up.

Using a wood stove or a coal-burning stove will only heat some rooms in your home. "There are pipes that run through little nooks in your home that will freeze if water doesn't run through them," says Ed Del Grande of HGTVpro.com. If you lower your thermostat, make sure you turn it back up if you go away for the weekend. This kind of weather can really turn on a dime.

2: Think outside

Even though you may be tempted to do a bit of gardening to tend to those tulips that have prematurely sprouted, make sure after you use your garden hose that you drain outdoor faucets and cut off the water.

Make sure the line that is feeding the faucet is insulated and that it doesn't touch any cement. You'll also want to check your home's foundation for the right drainage. You can either spray with a hose, or watch closely during a rainstorm, to see if water runs away from the house.

Make sure the downspouts carry water at least three feet away from the house and onto ground that slopes and drains away from your home.

3: Protect your furniture

It's perfectly fine to leave your patio furniture outside. But make sure you bring in any cushions or foam. This will promote mold if its left outside with all the elements. If you have metal furniture you'll want to spray it down at the end of every season, with a lubricant like WD-40 -- its a water diverter, it will prevent the snow and rain from damaging those items.

4: Ignore the noises

If you're hearing a popping or cracking noises in your home at night, don't call ghostbusters just yet. When you go from a 70 degree day to a 30 degree night, your house is just expanding and contracting very rapidly, says Del Grande. And while it may sound like your house is falling down around you, it's really just a normal phenomenon.

When there is more temperate weather you probably wouldn't even notice it since your house would consistently expand in the summer and contract in the winter. But given the wild weather swings, the noise has just become more pronounced.

And a quick reminder to people who live in very cold areas - make sure you put in your driveway stakes so the plows will know the perimeters of your driveway.

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Market indexes are shown in real time, except for the DJIA, which is delayed by two minutes. All times are ET. Disclaimer Morningstar: © 2014 Morningstar, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Disclaimer The Dow Jones IndexesSM are proprietary to and distributed by Dow Jones & Company, Inc. and have been licensed for use. All content of the Dow Jones IndexesSM © 2014 is proprietary to Dow Jones & Company, Inc. Chicago Mercantile Association. The market data is the property of Chicago Mercantile Exchange Inc. and its licensors. All rights reserved. FactSet Research Systems Inc. 2014. All rights reserved. Most stock quote data provided by BATS.