The days are becoming shorter and the weather is becoming cooler; fall is right around the corner. Now is the perfect time to get a jump start on accomplishing a few house chores before the cold weather strikes and it is too late. A lot of things are overlooked by homeowners when making the change from summer to winter. So, here is a guide on Preparing Your Home for Fall to help you remember all of the important tasks to get done to guarantee a safe and warm home for the upcoming cold weather.
Clean Out Your Gutters
It is best to put this first on your list of things to accomplish. You will want to clean out your gutters during the last few days of summer or the first few days of fall. However the most ideal time for gutter cleaning is after the last heavy rain or thunderstorm. The rain will have washed away any debris that accumulated on your roof down into the gutters. You will want to start at the opposite end of the downspout and then work your way down the gutter. Once you reach the downspout, take a hose or a bucket of water to flush out the spout. If your downspout appears to be clogged, you will want to eliminate it with a plumber’s snake. Clogged gutters are prone to rust and corrosion, can lead to damaged exterior surfaces and to water in the basement. Stay ahead of the weather, have your gutters cleaned then covered with mesh guards to keep debris from returning.
Put Away Your Gardening Tools
Once you are finished with your gardening projects, you should properly clean your tools and store them away for winter. Thoroughly clean off all your spades, clippers, shovels, etc. and consider coating them with a thin layer of mineral oil to prevent having to replace them due to rusting over the winter months. After cleaning and coating your tools, make sure you put them in a safe spot like a garage or shed so they won’t be affected by the cold weather.
Check the Weather Stripping
Gaps around door frames and windows can account for roughly 10% of your heating bill, according to the U.S. Department of Energy. Don’t lose money by not checking for air leaks in your home. Weather-stripping is a cost-effective way to take control of your home’s heating and cooling costs. It is important to check this material periodically because it can deteriorate over time. If the weather stripping in your home appears to be questionable in certain areas, there are a few options for checking.
– Close the door or window on a piece of paper. If the paper slides easily or automatically falls, your weather stripping needs to be replaced.
– Or light a candle and trace the frame of the door or window. If the flame flickers at any spot along the frame, then there is an air leak.
You should also check for missing or damaged caulk areas around windows, door frames, and any other entry points (pipelines, electrical wiring). If there are any areas where air is leaking seal the gaps with caulk.
Driveways, Walkways and Steps
When any of these concrete areas are damaged it becomes a hazard year round, but the real danger arises when the weather turns icy. Fixing this type of problem in the fall is important in preventing a minor problem now from becoming an expensive headache down the road. Look for cracks, uneven sections, loose railings, crumbling of asphalt and loose-filled pathways. The majority of the cracks you will encounter will be within the ability to do-it-yourself.
Inspect your Fireplace
No matter how often you use your fireplace, it is important to check it annually for damages and hazards.
- Flue: Check your flue (chimney) for creosote. Creosote is a flammable by-product of burning wood. If accumulation occurs, the result poses great danger to your home.
Therefore you should consider having your chimney inspected annually. For most people, the best option is to have the entire chimney system inspected by a chimney sweep. Once you know what to look for, you can perform an inspection yourself by shining a flashlight up the flue. Look for deposits approaching 1/8inch in thickness. If you suspect any deposits, then it is highly advised to have the deposits cleaned by an experienced chimney sweep.
- Look for flue blockages: Birds love to nest at the top of an unprotected flue. A chimney cap can prevent this from happening. If you don’t have a cap, look up the flu to ensure that there are no obstructions.
- Exercise the damper: The damper is the metal plate that opens and closes the flu just above the firebox. Move it to the open and closed positions to ensure that it is working properly.
Check Your Smoke Alarm Batteries
A lot of local fire departments will run campaigns urging you to change your fire alarm batteries during Daylight Savings time changes. Take this into account. Always be sure to check that any alarms you have that run on batteries, or ones that are connected to your home’s electrical system to ensure that they’re working.
Change Your Heat Filters
If your home has a forced air centralized heating system, you need to replace your air filters. Whether they have been running continuously all year, or if your heater has been turned off all summer, you need to change them regardless. They will either be dirty from running all year, or they will be stale and possibly growing mold or mildew due to inactivity. Luckily, filters are cheap and easy to replace. When you’ve decided on a time to replace your filters, set aside a day to turn on your heating system for a few hours so it can blow out all the dust that built up over the summer months. A good time to do this would be when you’re going to be away from the home for awhile so you don’t have to endure a heated house, and the smell of burnt dust, when it’s still warm outside. Once you’ve had the heating system on for a few hours or more, turn it off and let your home air out.
Preparing your home for the fall can sometimes be a tedious job, but you’ll be thankful once the winter weather arrives. Whether you just moved into your new home or are planning on selling in the near future, stay one step ahead by preventing minor problems from escalating, while also saving money.