Monday, September 8, 2014

Get Your Home Fall Ready

Hello Everyone! I hope you have had a wonderful week. It is sad to say but with the chill in the air it is becoming apparent fall is around the corner. Fall is my favorite time of year (so maybe it is not so sad). 

There are a lot of similarities between fall and spring in my opinion. There are so many opportunities to get a head start on next years planting and get necessary maintenance on your home done before the snow flies. This week I wanted to share with you some basic tips on how to get your home fall ready inside and out. 

1. Test your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors. Replace batteries. It is a good idea to get in the habit of replacing batteries on an interval you can remember. Maybe the first day of Fall could be an easy date for you to remember, or daylight savings? Just make it something you can remember

2. Inspect water heater. This could be the time for you to perform maintenance that is often neglected like draining the tank and washing out sediment etc. I wont even go into this because this is definitely not my line of expertise. There are multiple articles and videos online, or you could always hire a professional and know it is getting done right. There is probably never a good time for you water heater to go out, nobody that I know enjoys a freezing cold shower....but when it is 10 degrees outside it is a little less enjoyable than the heat of summer.

3. Consider contacting an HVAC Pro to clean and tune up your furnace. As with  most things maintenance extends the life of so many expensive household appliances like your furnace. Nobody wants their furnace going out on them in the middle of winter, so this could be a good time to prevent a future headache.

4. Replace your furnace filter. You may have done this recently but changing furnace filter can extend the life of your furnace and lead to better air quality in your home. 

During the winter months you are probably going to spend even more time indoors, much of that time your furnace will be running. Your furnace working constantly means a lot of air is being circulated and that furnace filter is being tasked with removing a lot of the junk that is in our air. To make sure that air is a little more junk free replace your furnace filter, it will lead to improved air quality and less strain on your furnace itself if you have a clean air filter. 

5. Check the caulk around your window. If there are any gaps re-caulk the window. It is also a good idea to put weather -strip around windows and doors to make them as tight as possible. This is obviously a good idea for the summer too....but if it didn't get done earlier in the year take this opportunity to save yourself some money this winter.

6. Look for any additional air leaks and get them sealed. Additional opportunities for increased insulation can be: outlets, switches, recessed lighting, the strip along door bottoms, behind cupboards etc. 

Along with a regular energy audit from a professional there are at home methods to find these air leaks or opportunities to save you some money. 

A tool you can find pretty inexpensively that has fairly good review is the Black & Decker TLD100 Thermal Leak Detector there is a link there for Amazon. I haven't personally used this but will likely be purchasing one and doing a review in the future. Give it a shot if you want to see the air leaks and opportunities in your home. 

7. Reassess your programming on your programmable thermostat. Get ready for colder temperatures and consider letting your house get a little chillier at night time to save on heating costs and possibly let you sleep better. 

8. If you have a fireplace close your damper and only open it when you are going to be burning a fire. This is a large area to lose heat if the damper is left open and no fire is burning. 

9. Clean your air registers. Particularly those on the floor, you may not need to hire a professional to clean your ducts but at least check for debris and dust that could be blocking the flow of air through your home. 

10. Change the direction of your ceiling fan to push the warm air down from the ceiling. In the winter that would be clockwise and at a low speed for the best air circulation. 

11. As it gets closer to no longer needing to use your hose drain your outdoor faucets and store hoses. If you are in an area with a particularly cold climate you also might consider getting an insulated faucet cover to protect your outside faucet from freezing. Yet another lesson I've learned the hard way. 

Gratuitous leaf picture...just because I felt like it.
12. Clean your window wells out. Leaves and other fall debris can impede drainage in your window wells and put you at risk for a basement flood. Not to mention its a lot more enjoyable crawling in those sometimes scary window wells when you are regularly cleaning and maintaining them rather than waiting until it is a spider palace and you have to Godzilla their life crawling in there...just do it! 

13. Clean gutters in order to prevent ice dams. This could save you a major headache if you do this ahead of time rather than when there is a problem and temperatures are in the negative and you're trying to climb up a ladder. It doesn't sound fun to me.

14. Check your water drainage, make sure water is flowing away from your foundation. This one is clearly related to the gutters but along with the gutters check your downspouts specifically.  Make sure downspouts are not clogged with debris and are in working order. If you don't have proper drainage both off of your house AND away from the foundation solve the problem right now. You can get flexible tubing and almost any home improvement store that slips on the end of your down spout and will guide water away from your home. 

I have personally seen the mad rush to a home improvement store after a heavy rain from people trying to get flexible tubing to get the water away from their house. This is a little nerve racking when your basement is possibly filling up with water so just plan ahead and install them before there is an emergency...and laugh at your neighbors as they run around in a storm....JUST your neighbors, yes that's it help your neighbors! 

Are we getting the theme? Save yourself a freezing cold headache with a little preventative maintenance. 

15. Inspect your roof and chimney for cracks or damage. If you don't feel comfortable hire a professional and by all means if there is an issue that needs to be resolved find a way to work it in your home maintenance schedule.

16. Rake leaves off of lawn, mulch them into the lawn, do something with them so they aren't always sitting on your lawn all winter. 

If you don't want to mulch them and just want them out of your life you can take them to a local landfill green waste deposit center. 

Personally I think mulching them into your lawn is the best option. I don't like to just leave them on the lawn as is but I think there are many benefits to mulching them into your lawn before the snow flies and it saves you a trip to the landfill or having to bag them up constantly.

17. Cover your central air conditioning unit and or winterize and cover your swamp cooler. If you have window units remove them and get them stored safely for winter. 

18. Clean and store your garden tools. This is a big one. How many times are tools left out to rust or not maintained through easy oiling and come spring you are purchasing the same tools you had last year. This can easily save you hundreds of dollars a year just planning ahead. 

Also get out that snow shovel or have it handy. We all have seen the mad rush at the first snow storm to Walmart,  Home Depot or Lowes. Who wants to race to the store in the first snowstorm, plan ahead and have your winter items ready to go. 

19. Prepare your flower beds for winter. Remove dead annual plants or mulch them back into the soil if you are feeling extra motivated. If you have any young plants or trees you could use some of the leaves and debris as insulation around the root base to help protect the roots from freezing during the winter months. 

Well that is all I have for you guys for now. I hope something here was helpful to you. Thank you for taking the time to read and visit the little blog.

Until the next time...

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