Time to get your home ready for fall and winter

Amber Baksik
Amber Baksik
Published on August 5, 2019

September 23 is the first day of fall for 2019, which doesn’t give us a whole lot of time to get our homes ready. But, if you do just one or two fall home maintenance tasks each weekend, you’ll have it done before you know it.

It’s home fire season

Almost 40 percent of deaths in home fires occur in homes without smoke alarms, according to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA). Having smoke alarms with dead batteries is just as bad, by the way, as not having them at all.

Make your first fall home maintenance task one that saves lives: Do a check of all the smoke alarms in your home.

Can’t remember when you last changed the batteries? Change of all them now.

Fire experts say that we need one smoke alarm outside of each bedroom and on all levels of the home. The exception to this rule comes into play if you sleep with your bedroom door closed. If so, experts suggest you install a smoke alarm inside the room as well.

If you don’t have enough alarms, or if any of them are 10 years of age or older, make it a point to buy and install more.

Did you know that there are two types of smoke alarms? The ionization alarm detects flaming fires while smoldering fires are picked up by a photoelectric alarm. The NFPA suggests you use both types within the home.

Keep the warm air in and the cold air out

Even newer homes can have leaky doors and windows. Trying to regulate the air in a home when the heat is escaping and the cold air is invading is tough on your HVAC system. It’s expensive as well.

If it’s been some time since you’ve checked the weather stripping around the doors and windows in your home, do so now, before the weather turns nippy.

The pros say that if you can rattle your windows, it’s time to head to the hardware store for weather stripping.

Then, stand back and look at the doors to the exterior of the home. If there’s daylight penetrating around the frames, you’ll want to weather strip the doors as well.

Need weather-stripping tips? Learn how to choose it at the U.S. Department of Energy’s website and how to install it at TodaysHomeowner.com.

Need some incentive? The Department of Energy calculates a 10 to 15 percent savings on your winter energy bill from just this one fall home maintenance task.

Tune up that workhorse

One of the most expensive-to-replace systems in the home is the heating, ventilation and air conditioning system (HVAC). The average lifespan of a system is between 15 and 20 years, if it is properly maintained.

Then there are all those smaller components that make up the system, each with its own lifespan. The HVAC system is the most used system in the home, making it the home’s workhorse. And, fall is the perfect time to have it tuned up so that it serves you well through the winter.

You’ll need to call in a pro for an inspection, but it’s well worth the money.

Oil heating systems often leak and the cost of cleaning up such a leak can run between $20,000 and $50,000.

Forced air HVAC systems require annual inspections as well and don’t forget to stop by the hardware or home improvement store for a supply of filters (they should be replaced monthly).

Inspect the home’s exterior

You want to keep all that wet, winter weather outside, right? Step outside and do a quick inspection of the home’s exterior to ensure it will shelter you from it.

  • Clean out clogged gutters and run water through them to ensure they don’t leak.
  • Are the downspouts taking water away from the home? Redirect them if they aren’t.
  • Check the siding for signs of wear. Add new caulking if necessary.
  • Wrap the home’s exterior water pipes and blow out the irrigation system.
  • Check the trees for cracked branches and trim them off.

Sure, there is a lot more fall home maintenance that you can do, but the basics will help you stay safe, warm, dry and save money.

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