With fall just around the corner, it is time to do some basic home maintenance. This is the perfect time of year to make sure your house is energy efficient and ready for the cold weather. Buttoning up your house to lower your winter heating bills, and maximizing the efficiency of your heating system will help you through the cold weather months. Read on for a list of fall home maintenance tips.
The first step to improving the energy efficiency of your home is to draftproof your house around windows and doors. Caulk cracks or install weather stripping around windows and doors, including the garage door. To seal gaps in the threshold at the bottom of doors, install a draft seal. Replace screens with storm windows and clean them if needed.
Home Heating Inspection
The best time to schedule a heating inspection is in early fall before cold weather arrives, since heating contractors are not as busy. During a heating inspection, a heating professional can:
- Replace the air filter
- Clean and inspect the blower
- Test the safety controls
- Inspect and adjust the burner
- Check the thermostat
- Test pressure switches
- Inspect the ductwork and repair any leaks
It is also important for the homeowner to continue to replace the furnace air filter every one to three months as needed during cold weather with a quality air filter.
Annually Have Your Oil Company:
1. Clean the furnace and repair or replace damaged parts. A well-maintained furnace means lower fuel bills and cleaner emissions.
2. Install an oil safety valve or replace the fuel delivery line with one encased in a protective sleeve. These are inexpensive upgrades.
3. Inspect the vent pipe to ensure that it is free of obstructions and that an audible signal (whistle) is on the vent. Oil company personnel listen for the whistle to help avoid overfills, a common source of spills.
It is a good idea to have the oil tank cleaned out every 10 years. Over time, water (from condensation) and sludge can cause corrosion resulting in leaks.
Have wood, pellet, and coal stoves and fireplaces inspected, cleaned and repaired to prevent chimney fires and carbon monoxide poisoning.
If you use a hot water system for heating, drain the expansion tank, check the water pressure, and bleed your radiators.
Weatherproof Your Pipes
Wrap water pipes that run along exterior walls with heating tape. It will save energy and prevent them from freezing.
Keep Pests Out
Pests love attics because they are full of nice warm insulation for nesting, and they offer easy access to the rest of the house. With gable vents that lead into the attic it is a good idea to install a screen behind them to keep those critters out. The first place to check for any unwanted guests is under the kitchen cupboards and appliances.
Check Carbon Monoxide Detectors and Smoke Alarms
Each fall, check carbon monoxide detectors and smoke alarms and put in fresh batteries. These are very important detectors to have in a home. A smoke alarm can save lives in a house fire. A carbon monoxide detector can also save lives if a home has oil or gas-burning appliances, like a furnace or water heater.
Outside the Home
- Regularly clean gutters and downspouts. Make sure all drainage areas are unblocked by leaves and debris.
- Check the wood trim around windows, doors, railings and decks. Use caulk to fill the holes or completely replace the wood.
- Cooler temperatures make fall a good time to paint the exterior of your home.
- Inspect your roof, or hire a licensed professional to examine your roof for wear and tear. Damage to the roof is one of the easiest ways for rain, snow and ice to find its way into your home.
If the shingles are curling, buckling or crackling, replace them. If you have a lot of damage, it’s time to replace the entire roof. Also, check the flashing around skylights, pipes and chimneys. If you have any leaks or gaps, heavy snow and ice will find its way in.
- To prevent exterior water pipes from bursting when the weather gets below freezing, turn off the valves to the exterior hose bibs. Run the water until the pipes are empty. Make sure all the water is drained from the pipes, if not; the water can freeze up and damage the pipes.