Fall is officially here! This means cooler temperatures, rainier weather and lots of debris from trees and bushes going dormant. We want you and your home to be well prepared all the way through winter, so we’re here to share some tips and tricks you can start crossing off your list now before it’s too late! These steps, most of which you can do yourself, will ultimately lower your utility bills and protect your investment.
1.) Examine your roof/gutters/downspouts for debris: Your roof is often forgotten about because it is not at eye level to give you a subtle reminder every time you walk past it. Clear leaves, dirt, and sticks from gutters and examine downspouts for damage or loose pieces. Look for damaged, loose or missing shingles that may leak during winter’s storms. Check the flashing around your chimney and any openings in the roof, such as skylights for leaking problems.
2.) Tune Up Your Heating System: For about $80 to $100, a technician will inspect your furnace or heat pump to be sure the system is clean and in good repair, and that it can achieve its manufacturer-rated efficiency. The inspection also measures carbon-monoxide leakage.
3.) Reverse Your Ceiling Fan: If your ceiling fan has a reverse switch, use it to run the fan’s blades in a clockwise direction after you turn on your heat. Energy Star says the fan will produce an updraft and push down into the room heated air from the ceiling (remember, hot air rises). This is especially helpful in rooms with high ceilings — and it might even allow you to turn down your thermostat by a degree or two for greater energy savings.
4.) Repair Leaky Faucets: Before the temperatures start to dip low, examine leaky faucets in the kitchen, bathrooms, and utility room locations. Most likely the time and money spent now to fix will be less than a broken pipe in the dead of winter!
5.) Prepare your fireplace: For some people they use their fireplace more than their central heater in the fall and winter months. Discard old ashes and ensure the damper is open to allow air to freely move through the chimney. Check the damper handle and springs to ensure the flue is operating correctly. Hire a professional chimney sweep if needed.
6.) Drain your hot water heater:If your live in an area with hard water extra amounts of sediments could be building up in your tank. Now is a perfect time to drain and make sure rust is not developing in your tank as well. If your hot water heater is extremely old or is rusting considering a new one that will be more cost effective and energy efficient.
7.) Check windows and doors for drafts: The majority of conditioned air in your home is lost through the windows and doors. Go through your home and open windows to ensure the seal and caulking around the window frame is in good condition. Think of adding heavier drapery around windows that are extra drafty, to help block some air infiltration.
8.) Take care of your irrigation/lawn needs: Undrained water in pipes can freeze, which will cause pipes to burst as the ice expands. Start by disconnecting all garden hoses and draining the water that remains in faucets. Consider having an irrigation service professional fix broken heads before the cold weather sets in. If you want to prevent spring weeds and winter lawn damage, don’t forget to fertilize. Visit your local garden center to find out information on what type of fertilizer to use and when to spread it.
9.) Mulch Leaves When You Mow: Mow your leaves instead of raking them. The trick is to cut the leaves, while dry, into dime-sized pieces that will fall among the grass blades, where they will decompose and nourish your lawn over the winter. Use your lawn mower without its bag, and optionally swap the cutting blade for a mulching blade.
10.) Storage and Tool Maintenance: Power wash outdoor furniture and cushions. Once dry, store cushions in dry area to prevent cracking, and fading over the fall and winter months. Once your grass begins to enter the dormant stage, take your lawnmower, trimmer, and other tools to get their blades sharpened and fluids recapped off. Fuel remaining in your mower’s engine will decompose, “varnishing” the carburetor and causing difficulty when you try to start the engine in the spring. If you’ve added stabilizer to your fuel to keep it fresh longer, then fill the gas tank to the top with more stabilized fuel and run the engine briefly to allow it to circulate. If not, wait until the tank is nearly empty from use and run the engine (outdoors) to use up the remaining fuel.Tips and Tricks Courtesy of: freshhome.com and kiplinger.com