It is time to start thinking about getting your home prepared for winter months. Fall is the perfect time to take care of the little things that can make a big difference for you and your home. Most of the tasks listed below are well within the average person’s ability. But even if you choose to have a professional handle them, it is worth the expense. These simple tasks will save money and possibly even your home.
First, be sure your gutters are clean and in good condition. Your roof’s drainage system annually diverts thousands of gallons of water from your house’s exterior and foundation walls. That is why it is so important to keep this system flowing smoothly. Clogged gutters can lead to damaged exterior surfaces and to water in your basement. They are also more prone to rust and corrosion. Clean your gutters after leaves have fallen. Installing leaf guards can keep the debris from trees from returning.
Be sure your home is not losing money around doors and windows. A home with air leaks around windows and doors is like a coat left unbuttoned. Gaps in caulk and weather-stripping can account for a good portion of your heating bills. Weather-stripping is one of the most cost-effective ways to lower heating and cooling costs. Weather stripping can deteriorate over time, it is important to inspect it periodically. There is a simple way to determine a problem with weather stripping. Close a door or window on a strip of paper; if the paper slides easily, your weather-stripping is not doing its job. This is also a good time to check for missing or damaged caulk around windows, doors, and entry points for electrical, cable, phone, gas. Seal any gaps with a suitable caulk.
Inspect your roof. Start by inspecting your roof from top to bottom, either from on the roof surface or by using binoculars if necessary. Check ridge shingles for cracks and wind damage. Look for damage to metal flashing in valleys and around vents and chimneys. Scan the entire roof for missing, curled, or damaged shingles. Look in your gutters for large accumulations of granules, a sign that your roof is losing its coating. If any of these troubling signs are present consult a roofing professional for advice.
You should also take steps to ensure that outside faucets (also called sill cocks) and in-ground irrigation systems do not freeze and burst.
Close any shut-off valves serving outside faucets, then open the outside faucet to drain the line. (There may be a small cap on the faucet you can loosen to facilitate this draining.) If you do not have shut-off valves, and your faucets are not “freeze-proof “ types, you may benefit from Styrofoam faucet covers sold at home centers. To freeze-proof an in-ground irrigation system, follow the manufacturer’s procedure for draining it and protecting it from winter damage.
Change your furnace filter. Furnace filters trap dust that would otherwise be deposited on your furniture, and throughout your house. Clogged filters make it harder to keep your home at a comfortable temperature and can increase your utility bills. Simple monthly cleaning is all it takes to keep these filters breathing free and clear. Disposable filters can be vacuumed once before replacement. Foam filters can also be vacuumed, but they do not need to be replaced unless they are damaged. Use a soft brush on a vacuum cleaner. If the filter is metal or electrostatic, remove and wash it with a firm water spray.
In Colorado humidifiers are a must in months where your furnace is in use. You may know that dry winter air is bad for your health, but did you also know it can make fine wood more prone to cracking? You and your home will feel more comfortable if you keep your central humidifier in tip-top shape during the months it is running. First, inspect the plates or pads, and if necessary, clean them in a strong laundry detergent solution. Rinse and scrape off mineral deposits with a wire brush or steel wool.
Following these few simple steps can keep you and your home safe and comfortable during the colder months of the year.