Gearing up for Fall - September 27th 2013
As we head into shorter days and cooler nights, it's an ideal time to do some preventative maintenance in and around the house. It doesn't have to take weeks or months and it doesn't have to cost a fortune. If you take care of the basics you'll 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 doesn't 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, another source of heat loss. Average homes should have between R-28 (8 inches) to R-40 (12 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.
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. 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.
7. Shut off outside faucets and drain back preventing frozen pipes.
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. Don't 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.
12. Shut off foundation vents in crawl spaces to prevent heat loss from your home.
13. Check your household smoke alarm, carbon monoxide alarm and add fresh batteries.
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 salt, snow shovels and windshield scrapers . These items are at a premium when that first unexpected snowfall hits.