Ah…can you feel it? Fall is in the air…and we’re loving it! Sure…we’re always a little sorry to see summer fade away…but fall brings with it a special crispness in the air and the promise of holiday fun on the way.
For most of us, it means cooler temperatures…time to get those sweaters and jackets out of the closet. The leaves are changing and beautiful autumn colors are replacing the greenery. Alas…the days are getting shorter, but the air is alive with the wonderful, pungent smell of fireplaces everywhere. (Yes…we even use fireplaces in California!)
As we prepare ourselves for cooler weather, it’s also time to prepare our homes. So grab a pen and paper (you might want to grab a sweater too) and let’s take a walk around the house – inside and out – to see what needs to be done.
- Make sure gutters are cleaned of all debris and that the downspouts are not clogged.
- Consider adding extensions to downspouts to take the water farther away from the house, discouraging mold and mildew growth.
Do you receive our weekly Home Repair Insider Tips via email? If not – a couple of weeks ago you missed out on a lot of information about how, when and why to maintain your gutters. What are you waiting for? Scroll down a little…look to your left…see that box that says “Home Repair Insider E-Newsletter”? Click on it and you’re on your way to weekly tips that are sure to help you maintain your home.
- Check/replace the furnace filter and the heating system – don’t wait.
Picture this…it’s the first cool night of the season…you turn on your heater, but nothing happens…that’s okay (you think)…it’s only the first night! So the next day, you call your local repairman…uh-oh…they’re booked solid for months! So you call another and another and get the same response. (At this point, it’s perfectly acceptable to smack yourself in the forehead for waiting this long to check your heating system.)
- Install a programmable thermostat…why waste expensive heat when you’re not at home? You can program it to come on in plenty of time to ensure that you walk into a warm, toasty house.
- Cover your air conditioner (shouldn’t be needing that for awhile).
- Make sure all lights are working both inside and outside the house.
- Consider adding motion-detecting lights outside if you don’t have them. The days are getting shorter and lighting is going to be in higher demand, so why wait?
- Talk a walk around the house and examine the trees – any dead tree limbs might be potential problems during inclement weather.
- If any branches are dangerously close to your roof or power lines, call a professional tree trimmer to come out and remove them before they become an even bigger problem.
- Have your flue inspected if you burn natural wood in your fireplace. Creosote buildup could be a potential fire hazard.
- Store firewood close to the home, but not directly next to or in the house, since insects (even termites) and other creatures may make their home in the woodpile.
- Close the flue when not using the fireplace – that costly heat you’re paying for will run right out your chimney!
- Install a chimney cap and spark arrestor to keep leaves and debris out and safeguard against flying sparks landing where they may start a fire. Have this done now! Remember: If you wait until it really gets cold to have this done, you could end up waiting weeks for service from a chimney sweep and paying more for the service when he finally gets there!
The same stuff that kept the heat out and the cool in…now needs to keep the heat in and the cold out!
- So check the sealing around your doors and windows. Caulk dries out over time, so it may need to be redone.
- Add or replace worn weather stripping. Replace old windows with newer energy efficient ones.
Did you know that if you added up all the cracks and gaps in your home, it would be equal to leaving one window open all winter long?? Sources report that homeowners spend an average of $1,300 a year on utility bills, most of which is wasted energy from poorly insulated windows and doors. Simple energy efficient improvements can save 10% – 50% on your energy bills.
Extra Tip: You can use caulking and weather stripping around entry points for your pipes and ducts that travel through an exterior wall.
- Replace all the batteries in your electrical devices such as smoke and carbon monoxide detectors.
- Make sure flashlights and weather radios are working properly.
- Do you have backup batteries in your clock radios?
There you have it…a head-start to getting your home ready for the cooler (& colder) weather. Now…with list in hand…why not give Handyman Network a call so our home repair and improvement specialists can get started on it? Check back in a couple of months for even more tips on keeping your home safe, warm and energy efficient this season. We’ll include some extra tips especially for you visitors in the colder (brrrrrrrrrrr!) regions and a special section on tips to keep your home safe through the holiday season.