Gearing up for Fall - The Province, Sunday September 18, 2011
September 19, 2011
As we head into shorter days and cooler nights, it is an ideal time to do some preventative maintenance in and around the house. It does not have to take weeks or months and it does not have to cost a fortune. If you take care of the basics you will save yourself hundreds of dollars in costly repairs for such things as winter damage and heat loss. Most people can do their own work, and it does not need to be a back breaking regimen of chores.
1. Check and install weather-strip. Homeowners who - heat the neighborhood - because of poor or insufficient weather stripping waste hundreds of dollars on heating bills when $50 will cover the cost of weather stripping most homes.
2. Check attic insulation. Many homes have insufficient insulation and draft proofing; which are both sources of heat loss. Average homes should have between R-28 (8 inches) to R-50 (16.75 inches) of insulation in the attic, more in colder climates. New breakthroughs in insulation feature recycled glass as an environmental alternative.
3. Caulk any gaps on the exterior of your home and also around windows and doors, especially stucco homes with trimless windows.
4. Install storm windows if single pane glass or upgrade to new energy efficient windows.
5. Clean gutters and install gutter guards to protect from heavy rain damage and overflows from being plugged with leaves and needles.
6. Change your furnace filter at least 4 times each year. I prefer the pleated type furnace filters as opposed to the washable furnace filters. Look for the Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value (MERV) rating on the filter; the higher the MERV rating, the better the filtration. During the winter, when your furnace is working overtime, a clean filter will help keep your furnace operating as efficiently as possible. Furnace ducts should be cleaned every 3-5 years. Your furnace should be inspected by a licensed gas-fitter once a year. I would suggest having this done in the early fall to avoid the winter rush.
7. Shut off outside faucets and drain back preventing frozen pipes or install frost free hose bibs.
8. Dolomite lime your lawn and add some fall-winter fertilizer. This will keep it healthy during the winter.
9. Drain and store your garden hose. Do not leave it out all winter because the water within the hose will freeze and can crack the hose.
10. Check roof shingles, flashings and chimney bricks for leaks.
11. If you have a wood burning fireplace, have your chimney cleaned. Those fires from last winter have left a lot of creosote behind. Clean it out before you plan to start using the fireplace. Also consider a Draftstopper
, an inflatable polyurethane ‘pillow’ that is designed to seal the fireplace when it is not being used. It can reduce your heating and air conditioning costs by as much as 30 percent,
12. Shut off foundation vents in crawl spaces to prevent heat loss from your home by plugging the vents with rigid foam insulation.
13. Check your household smoke alarm, carbon monoxide alarm and add fresh batteries. Any alarm older than three years should be replaced.
14. Empty gas from lawnmower or put in gas additive for easier start-up.
15. Depending on where you live, you may wish to stock up on safety salt, snow shovels and windshield washer fluid, ice scrapers and antifreeze. These items are at a premium when that first unexpected snowfall hits.
16. Most importantly, we are getting older so let the young folks so all the heavy snow shovelling!
More to come next week. This article was published in The Province
newspaper, Sunday September 18th.