It's that time of year ... before we know it the beautiful colors of red, orange, and gold will be blanketing the ground of the Fox Valley area and the temperatures will be dipping lower. That means we need to get in gear and get our homes ready to handle the demands of the upcoming winter season. Below is a checklist of the most common Home Maintenance items that need to be done in the fall. The great news is that you can easily get them done on a weekend....and you'll be able to save a little money over the winter by tackling them now.
1. Paging Dr Heat!........It's time to get your furnace a physical. Each year you need to clean and /or replace furnace filters and wipe down any dust that has accumulated around the unit. If you hear any screeching or whines, or unusual noises with the system, you should call in to have a service technician come out and check the unit before winter season sets in.
2. Time To Get Your Mind In The Gutters! Inspect your gutters and downspouts for any clogs, and clean out the path thoroughly. Make sure this is done once the leaves are completely down from the trees at the end of the season as well. Keeping the gutters cleaned ensures that your home will not incur exterior damage to foundation walls or water in the basement. You may want to invest in mesh coverings for your gutters that will prevent any leaves or other debri from collecting in them in the future.
3. Get Yourself A View From The Top! Now that we're already talking about the top of the house we might as well stay there. It's very important to check your roof for damaged shingles before entering the winter season. Nothing is worse for a homeowner than a small drip that turns into a full blown disaster by the time they realize it's a hole in the roof! So take the time to scan the entire roof, top to bottom, looking for cracks, wind damage, curling of shingles, ones completely gone, damage to the metal flashing, etc. Once you have done your evaluation, have it repaired as soon as possible.
4. Walk the Walk Baby! You really need to take a walk around your home, inspection every walkway surface. Damaged walkways are a hazard everyday, but bad weather makes them even more dangerous. Look for large cracks, uneven payment, loose bricks or pavers, loose railings, etc. Once you've made your list head over to your local home improvement store and get to work. The little time it takes to fix could potentially save you thousands in bills later on.
5. CHILL OUT.....or maybe we should just say FREEZE! Make sure to shut off all your exterior irrigation systems and drain the lines of the systems and hoses. Make sure to use a styrofoam faucet cover for your outdoor faucets and make sure all valves are in the closed and off position.
6. Gather 'Round the Fire. Fall and Winter are great for having fires in the fireplace, but making sure you have cleaned out the soot and creosote buildup is critical. It is also important to clean out any cobwebs and check for any bird nests or any other unwanted pests. We'd recommend calling in a professional if you have any questions at all.
7. Keeping the OTHER Wood fires Burning. Woodburning stoves have made a huge comeback over the past couple years, but just like fireplaces, they also need to be inspected to run efficiently and safely. Be sure to read and operate by the instructions and follow the maintenance as required.
8. I'm Sealing Away.... This can be a big job, but a very necessary one that can help save some green on the heating bills for the year! Walk through your home and seal any gaps and cracks around windows and doors with weather-stripping or caulk. If you are going to be using caulk- especially in places like joints, corners, places protruding from the wall- this will need to be done before the temperatures get too cool.
9. Keep it Humming! With winters dry air many of us keep the humidifier going on a constant rotation. To ensure efficient operation make sure to clean the plates or pads every 60 days or as recommended by the manufacturer.
10. Ready....Stop, now Reverse. Help with your heating bills by changing the direction of your ceiling fans. Reverse the direction of the fans and create an upward draft that redistributes the warm air from the ceiling. Also make sure to clean the blades of the fan regularly with a soapy water mixture. Dust and bacteria builds up on the blades daily and regular use also moves that through the air as well.
11. It's a Safety Dance. Make sure your family is safe. A home safety check is a ritual that should be done twice annually in every household. Test your Smoke Detectors & CO Monitors, Inspect or Install Fire Extinguishers, Review or Make a Fire Escape Plan for your Family and rid your home of any fire hazards.
12. A Few Final Notes...... Make sure to embrace the season! Put up a great fall wreath on the front door, buy a few Mums from a local store. Visit a local orchard and pick some apples for baking a yummy Apple Pie and get ready for the pumpkins!
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