September 1, 2018
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The changing of the seasons makes an ideal time for homeowners to do some scheduled fall maintenance and prepare for the cooler winter months. Here’s a list of key home items which we recommend checking before winter’s arrival. Some are incredibly simple while others may require professional assistance.
Windows and Doors: Windows and doors are used daily and will show wear and tear over time. These are prime points for heat to escape your home and care should be given to check their performance. Check the weatherstrip seals around the perimeter of the window sash and door panels where they meet the frame for gaps and repair if necessary. Use a vacuum to remove any debris which may hamper the operation or prevent the weatherstripping from performing.
Over time, caulking used around windows and doors can become brittle or develop gaps. These make for an easy point of entry for air and water infiltration. If you need to reapply caulk, remove the old caulk with utility knife before putting the new caulk around the window. If done right, this will help eliminate the amount of cold air that gets through window and door frames.
Use a multipurpose spray lubricant, such as WD-40, to ensure hinges, rollers and locks throughout your home operate smoothly and quietly.
For patio doors, you may need to readjust the operable panels to ensure they are closing and sealing properly. Most patio doors come with adjustable hinges and rollers which allow for easy panel adjustment with the door frame.
Much like spring, the fall is a good time to clean any screens on your windows and doors. Use either an upholstery brush attachment with your vacuum cleaner or mild soap and water with a soft brush to remove dust and debris. Screens should be dry before being reinstalled or before being put into storage for the winter. Also clean window glass.
Window and patio door replacements may be an option if existing products are unable to be repaired.
Safety Equipment: Periodically using the ‘test’ buttons on smoke and carbon monoxide detectors is recommended throughout the year to ensure the alarms are working. Removing excess dust and replacing the batteries should be done at least in the spring and fall as part of your standard maintenance routine. Check fire extinguishers.
Gutters and Downspouts: When gutters are filled with debris, water can back up and cause damage to trim, siding and your roof. Make sure gutters and downspouts are clean and ensure that water is being diverted away from the foundation. Check that all support brackets are securely in place.
Filters and Vents: Clean or replace the air filter on your furnace. This may need to be repeated monthly as the furnace is used over the winter. Check and clean the dryer vent, stove hood and room fans. Vacuum heating ducts, grills and registers and clean refrigerator coils. Keep vents clean and free from furniture and draperies.
Ceiling Fans: Clean ceiling fan blades and reverse to a clockwise spin to push warm air down from ceiling.
Heating System: Clean or replace the filter. Have your heating system tuned up by a professional. Clean heating ducts to improve your heating system’s efficiency and reduce household dust. Check your thermostat to make sure it is working properly. If you don’t already have one, consider replacing with a programmable thermostat.
Plumbing: To avoid water leaks from frozen pipes, drain all outside faucets. Also drain lawn irrigation and pool systems. Check all indoor faucets for leaks and drains for clogs. Replace washers and filters if necessary. Make sure pipes are properly insulated.
Fireplace and Chimney: Professionally inspected and cleaned to avoid chimney fires. Test the fireplace flue for a tight seal when closed.
Roof: A visual inspection of the roof is recommended to check for loose flashing and damaged or missing shingles that need repair. Pay special attention to areas that are most likely to leak on your roof, chimneys and vent pipes. A trip into the attic space may be needed to see if any water is getting into the home through these areas.
Water Heater: Fall is a great time to drain the water heater tank and remove any sediment that may have accumulated. Check for leaks or any other problems with the operation. If your water tank doesn’t have a high R-Value, you may wish to add insulation to save on heating costs. Adding insulation can reduce standby heat losses by 25%–45%. This will save you around 4%–9% in water heating costs.
Attic: While checking the attic for possible leak points, you may want to check the insulation in the attic for coverage. Proper insulation in a home is of utmost importance to save on heating costs in the winter months. Different levels are recommended depending on your geographic location. You may need to contact a professional to see how much insulation is correct for your home. Make sure attic vents are free from debris or insulation.
These are just a few ideas to help protect your home’s value and save on heating costs. Simple routine scheduled maintenance for your home is one of the smartest ways to keep it looking and performing as well as possible. When problems are found, early diagnoses help to keep repair costs at a minimum.