Angie’s List: Preparing your house for fall
Even if the heat still beats down outside, September has arrived. This means temperatures and tree leaves will fall before you know it. Start planning your fall maintenance tasks now. You’ll save time and effort by doing them ahead of schedule. You also might get a better rate and scheduling if you call in professionals before their busy season really gets underway.
WHAT SHOULD I CHECK AROUND MY EXTERIOR?
Foundation cracks can lead to moisture problems and more significant structural damage. Walk around your home’s exterior and look for cracks, usually formed in a stair-step pattern. Foundation repairs can often be done easily and for little cost — if the problem is addressed early on. Left to linger, structural repairs can become huge and expensive projects.
Have your garage door inspected before the cold weather hits. An inspection should include adjusting of springs and cables; lubricating of moving parts; tightening of all hardware, track and hinges; and inspecting the safety sensors and opener gears.
Hire a gutter cleaner to prevent water from rain and snowmelt from rolling off your roof and pooling around the foundation. Leaves and debris can clog gutters, and the resulting snow and ice buildup can cause major roof damage.
If you own a deck, gazebo or other outdoor wood structures, take the time now to inspect them, make needed repairs, and stain or reseal as needed. Completing deck maintenance now means the deck will be better prepared to weather winter temperatures and provide you with a head start to enjoy your deck again come spring. Clear away all debris and leaves to prevent moisture buildup. Wash away visible dirt and grime with a garden hose or pressure washer. Inspect the physical structure for split or decaying doors, popped nails and loose screws. Check all railings and banisters for sagging or wobbling. Professionals also recommend that you stain and reseal your deck every two to five years.
WHAT SHOULD I CHECK INSIDE MY HOUSE?
Change the air filter in your furnace, which will improve airflow, increase efficiency and prolong your unit’s life. Your furnace starts working overtime when temperatures plummet, so make sure you’re getting the best performance by keeping the filter up to date. Hire a professional to conduct an inspection and tuneup. This service will probably cost less than $100, and it keeps your system in top shape.
If you have a fireplace and chimney, get them inspected and swept to avoid potential fire hazards as a result of creosote buildup.
Consider an energy audit to determine where cold air is entering your home, and check your attic’s insulation levels to maximize the efficiency of your heating system. Even if you don’t hire an energy auditor, take steps to weather-proof your doors and windows. Caulk and seal any place where drafts are getting into your home. Sealing up those drafty areas is one of the cheapest and easiest ways to save on heating costs. If your windows are drafty, it’s a great time to buy new, energy-efficient models that will help lower your energy costs.
Drain and flush your water heater and insulate your water lines to prevent freezing. If you don’t already know where your main water and gas shutoff switches are located, find out now. This information will be very useful in the event of leaks.
Paul F. P. Pogue is a reporter for Angie’s List, a trusted provider of local consumer reviews and an online marketplace of services from top-rated providers. Visit AngiesList.com.