Change is in the air and the Fall season is in full swing. Temperatures have mellowed and dropped from the hot days of Summer and Winter is just around the corner. With the holidays approaching and a few days off to get stuff done around the house, you may want to consider some “Fall Maintenance” to keep your home functioning and cutting down on the wear-n-tear on your home. Here are ten tips to help you save money and take care of your largest investment:
1. Clean your Gutters
The gutter system to a home is important in keeping your home in good working order. Clogged gutters can lead to roof damage or even basement moisture or flooding. When your gutters are functioning properly, water will drain away from the house rather than next to the foundation. Heavier rains could lead to more significant problems with your basement if your gutters are clogged. As the temperature plummets and Winter is in full swing, freezing water poses a new frustration and you end up with heavy ice dams on your roof due to a clogged gutter system. The weight and leaking water can also cause significant roof damage.
2. Repair Driveway and Sidewalk Cracks.
Living in an area where the temperature tends to fluctuate below freezing frequently in the Winter, you should look to repair cracks in cement or asphalt of your sidewalks and driveways to prevent further cracking. When water gets into these cracks and feezes, it expands and can only make the crack worse as well as produce more cracks. Your local hardware store can advise you on various sealers to apply to the cracks and it is usually a quick and cheap fix.
3. Inspect your Chimney.
If you have a wood stove or fireplace, it is a good idea to inspect it or have it inspected by a professional before using it this Winter. A clogged or dirty chimney or flue can be a dangerous situation. Hazardous gases can fill up your house and may have the potential of starting a fire.
4. Remove Hoses and clutter from your Yard.
Less time outside is the norm during the colder months of the year. Make sure your yard doesn’t have any surprises that will show themselves with the first hard freeze. Check all your outside faucets to make sure they are completely off and disconnect your hoses.This will ensure that you will not have to purchase a new hose or deal with a busted pipe due to freezing. Also, check the yard for fallen debris and retrieve any tools that may have been left outside accidentally.
5. Test Smoke Alarms and Carbon Monoxide Detectors.
This is a cheap but essential way you can keep your family safe while you are couped up during these colder months. Basic detectors are as little as $20 and worth the investment.
6. Clean out the dryer vent.
It is estimated that dirty dryer vents are responsible for at least 15000-16000 home fires each year, according to the US Fire Administration. Making sure the vent in the dryer as well as the venting system to the outside is free of debris, is another way you can ensure your family’s safety this season. While you are checking, make a note of the seal on the vented area that exits the house to see if there are any large gaps that need to be addressed…heat loss in these areas can be significantly reduced, thus making a difference in your heating bill.
7. Check and replace your furnace filters.
Regular inspections of your furnace filters will prolong the life of your furnace. Air flows less freely through dirty furnace filters, thus the efficacy of your furnace is compromised when the filters are not checked regularly. Take note of the kind of filter you have in your furnace. Some filters need to be changed monthly, some seasonally, and still others biannually. Seek a professional heating and cooling expert if you have any questions about your system.
8. Inspect and or Flush the Hot Water Heater.
Sediment collects in your water heater over time. This sediment forces your wter heater to work even harder and hinder its efficiency and lifespan. It is a good idea to drain it every so often.
9. Check the house for Energy Leaks.
When was the last time you peeked into your attic? Check the amount of insulation. Check the R-value and see if it is sufficient for your needs. Heat-loss through the roof of your home is the number one source of heat-loss and can be remedied easily. Check out www.energy.gov for the R-values most effective in your climate (http://www.energysavers.gov/your_home/insulation_airsealing/index.cfm/mytopic=11220). You may also want to inspect for air leaks around all doors and windows. Over time, weatherstripping can wear down and create gaps creating drafts.
10. Consider a Programmable Thermostat
Check out http://www.energysavers.gov/tips/thermostats.cfm for valuable information on how these thermostats can help save you money.