If you find the best medicine for boredom is a healthy dose of outdoor home improvement, fall is probably the last season you can indulge this urge for a while. Fortunately, it's the perfect time to get your home ready for what could be a frigid season, as well as the one year anniversary inspection that may be on the horizon. Use these ideas to plan out a full season of maintenance and improvement.
Your roof does a lot to protect your home. Since much of it remains out of sight, basic care of your roof may be easily overlooked. Fall is cherished for its colorful leaves, but they can cause serious problems if left on your roof or in gutters and downspouts. U.S. News recommends you take the time to clear these areas at least a couple times during fall to ensure water has a clear path to flow from your roof to the ground. Water is often the unseen enemy of homes, and the damage it can inflict is slow but costly. If you're in an area that tends to receive snowfall, this is doubly crucial. Without a clear system in which to drain, water from melting ice and snow can accumulate on lead to leaks, mold and other damage that is costly to repair, not to mention enormously inconvenient.
Autumn and winter are also the best times to crank up the fireplace, but this of course requires some preparation. While cleaning your gutters and other areas of the roof, check your chimney and make sure it allows for the free flow of smoke. This is especially important if you are using a wood burning fireplace. Clear the opening of any debris and ensure the cap is intact to allow smoke to exit the chimney. Trim any branches that come close to the chimney in order to prevent their possible combustion. Birds and other animals like to nest in chimneys or at their openings, so check to be certain there are no signs of life there and that everything is sealed as well as possible. While you can perform these basic tasks safely and effectively as long as you can access your roof, it is recommended that you hire a professional for this project to ensure the highest degree of safety.
The change of the seasons is a good time to replace some crucial components of your house's ventilation system. Take this time to change your furnace filters if you haven't done so recently. The advice on how often to change home air filters is surprisingly conflicted. Some say that certain types of filters only need to be changed every three months, or possibly less. Others will tell you a monthly replacement is required. The Washington Post looked into the matter and concluded that it is indeed more complicated than one would think. Heating and air conditioning experts generally agree that a filter should at least be checked monthly, and replaced if it looks dark or clogged. People with pets, those who smoke inside or who live where there may be significant dust should plan on changing their filters monthly. Otherwise, it's probably safe to adhere to the manufacturer's suggestions, but there are several variables worth considering.
Homeowners should also take this opportunity to check smoke and carbon monoxide detectors and replace their batteries if needed. Between the cooking, heating and candle-lighting that usually occurs during the winter, these devices become even more crucial. Properly-functioning smoke and carbon monoxide detectors can save lives, and all it takes is a simple check. FEMA recommends testing smoke detectors once per month , while batteries generally need to be replaced twice per year. Many homeowners use the beginning and ending of daylight saving as reminders to do this. Carbon monoxide detectors also should generally be tested once monthly, and follow a similar strategy as smoke detectors for replacing their batteries.
Out with the cold
You could save a small fortune on heating costs by taking the necessary steps to ensure warm air can't escape your home. A good place to start is with your windows and doors. The caulk around your windows often wears away after only a few years, so inspect these areas thoroughly and seal them. This is a relatively easy task that most homeowners can perform themselves. Turning to the exterior doors in your home, a good weatherstripping can work wonders to eliminate drafts. A good way to check if this is needed is to gaze through the gap between the door and the frame. If you can see daylight, your weatherstripping needs replacing. The threshold, which is the name for the bottom of your door, also needs adequate protection. Lowes outlined the process in a simple online guide.
One final, yet essential, task to complete before the cold settles in is to insulate any exposed pipes. Frozen pipes can burst in very cold weather, creating a huge problem that is costly and time-consuming to fix. Take the time to insulate your pipes to avoid later regrets. When performed on hot water pipes, insulation can lead to significant energy savings as well, according to the U.S. Department of Energy. The process is fairly simple compared to how much it can end up saving down the road.