Home Maintenance Tips
GUTTERS AND DOWNSPOUTS
Clean gutters and downspouts frequently throughout fall to prevent build up of leaves and other debris.
Neglected gutters can lead to wood rot problems, pest infestations, wet basements, foundation damage and many other expensive complications.
Be sure water is not coming down behind gutters and that all support brackets are securely in place.
Check to ensure water drains properly. This can cause damage to foundations, driveways and walkways.
WINDOWS AND DOORS
Change summer screens to cool weather storm windows and doors.
Inspect and repair any loose or damaged window locks, latches or door frames.
Install weather stripping or caulking around windows and doors to prevent drafts and lower heating bills.
Check the condition of the putty around the window panes. If chunks are falling off, it’s time to have fresh putty installed.
Clean and lubricate garage door hinges, rollers and tracks. Make sure all screws are tight.
Replace the filter in your furnace. Consider having a heating professional check your heating system to ensure optimal performance and discover minor problems before they turn into costly major repairs.
Clean your ducts to better your heating system’s efficiency as well as to reduce household dust and provide relief to those with respiratory problems.
Check for leaks around the joints.
Clean your thermostat’s heat sensor and contact points.
Check accuracy and replace if necessary.
Lubricate your hot water heater’s pump and motor.
To prevent pipes from freezing and bursting, ensure that the pipes, as well as the wall cavities where they reside, are well insulated.
Be sure that you know how to locate and turn off the water shut-off valve in case pipes do freeze.
CHIMNEY AND FIREPLACE
Call a professional to inspect and clean your chimney. Fireplaces that are regularly used during the season should have an annual cleaning to prevent dangerous chimney fires.
Test your fireplace flue for a tight seal when closed, preventing a breeze.
Be sure attic insulation doesn’t cover ventilation vents to prevent winter ice dams on the roof. Also, make sure vents are free of plants and debris.
Check bird and rodent screens for attic vents to prevent any pests.
Check attic for evidence of leaks or condensation.
PREVENTING FROZEN PIPES
Insulate exposed pipes in the garage, attic, crawl spaces, outside walls and laundry room. You can buy ‘pipe sleeves’ at the hardware store or choose UL-listed heat tape for those close to a power source.
Disconnect your garden hose and wrap the faucet or protect it with a foam cover.
For vacant, unheated buildings, turn off the main water valve, water heater and other water-using appliances. (Never turn off the main valve while leaving the water heater on!)
Open indoor/outdoor faucets to drain pipes and flush the toilet until empty.
Drain underground sprinkler lines. For minimal cost a landscaping company can put you on its winterization schedule and ‘blow out’ your system each fall.
Once the cold weather hits…. Let one indoor faucet drip cold water, particularly overnight. Choose the faucet farthest from where the water enters your home to keep it moving through the entire house.
Open cabinet doors under sinks to let the warm air circulate.
Keep your thermostat set at 55 degrees or above, even if you’re out of town.
GENERAL HOME TIPS
Change the batteries in all the smoke and carbon monoxide detectors.
Check memory on carbon monoxide alarms for peak levels.
Clean exhaust fans and vents in the bathrooms and kitchen.
Inspect interior and exterior of house for signs of moisture intrusion.
Close outside hose spigot valve (usually in basement).
Repair broken stairs, banisters and porches as the weather gets wet and slippery.
Inspect your roof and look for damaged or loose shingles, gaps in the flashing and damaged mortar around the chimney.
Check all your faucets for leaks and repair any you find. Replace the washers if necessary