Your Home's Fall Checklist

  • Get your mind in the gutters. Inspect and clean gutters and downspouts.
  • Button up your overcoat. Seal gaps and cracks around windows and doors with weather-stripping and caulk.
  • Get on top of roof problems. Inspect your roof for damaged or curled shingles, corroded flashing, or leaky vents.
  • Walks the walks (and drives). Take steps to repair damaged sidewalks, driveways, and steps.
  • Chill out. Drain and winterize outdoor faucets and irrigation systems.
  • Freshen your filter. Clean or replace dirty furnace filters.
  • Give your furnace a physical. Have a professional inspect your heating system.
  • Gather round the hearth. Check fireplaces for soot or creosote build-up. Better yet, schedule a visit from a reputable chimney sweep.
  • Keep the humidifier humming. Clean the plates or pads to ensure efficient operation.
  • Head-off gas problems. If you have a gas-fired room heater, have it inspected by a pro. Also, perform any routine maintenance recommended by the maker.
  • Keep the wood fires burning brightly. Wood stoves are making a comeback. To avoid a deadly situation, be sure to inspect yours before firing it up.
  • Keep your family safe at home. A home safety check should be an annual ritual in every household. Test smoke and CO monitors, inspect (or install) fire extinguishers, review fire escape plans, and rid your home of old newspapers and other fire hazards.
 

Get your mind in the gutters. Your roof's drainage system annually diverts thousands of gallons of water from your house's exterior and foundation walls. That's why it is so important to keep this system flowing smoothly. Clogged gutters can lead to damaged exterior surfaces and to water in your basement. They are also more prone to rust and corrosion. Before the leaves fly this fall, have your gutters cleaned, then covered with mesh guards to keep debris from returning.

Step-by-step instructions for inspecting and cleaning gutters

Button up your overcoat. A home with air leaks around windows and doors is like a coat left unbuttoned. Gaps in caulk and weather-stripping can account for a 10% of your heating bills, according to the U.S. Department of Energy.

Weather-stripping is easily the most cost-effective way to rein in heating and cooling costs. This humble material also reduces drafts and keeps your home more comfortable year-round. Because weather stripping can deteriorate over time, it is important to inspect it periodically.

If you suspect a problem with weather stripping, you have several options for checking. Close a door or window on a strip of paper; if the paper slides easily, your weatherstripping isn't doing its job. Or, close the door or window and hold a lighted candle near the frame. (Don't let the flame get near anything flammable!) If the flame flickers at any spot along the frame, you have an air leak.

While you're at it, also check for missing or damaged caulk around windows, doors, and entry points for electrical, cable, phone, gas, and so. Seal any gaps with a suitable caulk.

 

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