by Nate Ward
on Friday, September 22nd, 2017 at 11:52am.
The time for crisp cool temperatures and warm apple cider has come! Before you start putting out your pumpkins, here are the must-do fall maintenance tips to keep your house in tip-top shape and you cozy warm during the winter.
Inspect and clean gutters and downspouts: The drainage system on your roof diverts thousands of gallons of water from foundation walls and your home’s exterior. Clogged gutters can lead to damaged exterior surfaces, or even worse water in your basement. We recommend cleaning your gutters, then cover them with mesh guards before the leaves start falling.
Seal gaps and cracks around your windows and doors: According to the U.S. Department of Energy, gaps in caulk and weather-stripping can account for 10% of your heating bill. Weather stripping is the most cost effective way to reduce drafts and keep your home comfortable year-round. Remember weather stripping deteriorates over time so it’s important to inspect periodically.
Check your roof for damage: Look for missing, cracked or curled ridge shingles, damage to metal flashing around vents and chimneys, and wind damage. Keep an eye out for large amounts of granules in your gutter - this is a sign your roof is losing its coating and problems are soon to come.
Repair damaged sidewalks, driveways and steps: Look for loose railing on steps, cracks 1/7-inch wide and uneven sections. Prevent the little problems from becoming expensive headaches when they are compounded with icy weather.
Drain and winterize faucets and irrigation systems: Close any shut-off valves to outside faucets, then open the outside faucet to drain the line. If your faucets are not “freezeproof” types or don’t have shut-off valves you may benefit from styrofoam faucet covers sold. Follow the manufacturer’s procedure to freezeproof an in-ground irrigation system. You can also wrap water pipes that run along exterior walls with heating tape, this will save energy and prevent them from freezing.
Clean or replace dirty furnace filters: Furnace filters trap dust that would otherwise end up on your furniture or floors. Clogged filters make it harder to keep your home at the right temperature and can majorly increase your utility bills. Disposable filters should be vacuumed once before replacing, use a soft brush on your vacuum cleaner. Foam filters can be vacuumed too but they don’t need to be replaced unless there is damage to the filter. If your filter is metal or electrostatic, remove and wash with a firm water spray.
Have a professional inspect your heating system: It’s always a good idea to annually having your heating system inspected by a professional. If you start to hear noisy belts in the blower motor, notice poor performance in heating or erratic temperature behavior schedule an inspection sooner rather than later.
Check fireplaces for soot or build-up: Inspect your flue for creosote, a flammable byproduct of burning wood. Look for flue blockers, most chimney caps will prevent a bird from nesting or other obstructions. Make sure your damper, the metal plate that opens and closes the flu, is working properly. Inspect for any chimney damage - make sure the flue cap is on tight and double check for loose or broken joints. Your best option is to have your entire chimney inspected by a chimney sweep.
Keep your humidifier on: With winter comes dry weather, which is not only bad for your health but make wood more prone to cracking. Inspect your plates or pads. If necessary clean them in a concentrated detergent solution and scrub off mineral deposits with a wire brush or steel wool.
Be sure to inspect your wood-fire stove before firing it up: Cracks in stovepipes can release toxic fumes into your home. Do a 360 check for corrosion, holes cracks or loose joints.
Fire Escape Plans: A home safety check should be an annual practice in every household. Test or inspect smoke detectors, CO monitors, fire extinguishers and review fire escape plans.
General Cleanup: Rid your home of old newspaper and other fire hazards. Always keep a clear space around heaters, furnaces and heat-producing appliances. Trim dead branches from trees to prevent them from coming down and causing damage during a winter storm.