As the summer heat fades into cool, crisp fall weather, it’s time to start thinking about preparing your home for the winter months. Colder, wet weather can take its toll on your home, and the cost of repairs can mount quickly if you don’t take the time to guard against it. Truly, an ounce of prevention can be worth several pounds of cure when it comes to prepping your home in October.
In addition to home maintenance, autumn offers an excellent time to review some key home safety items and ways to save on heating costs, as well. Let’s take a look at what you can do now to help give you some peace of mind for the winter ahead.
Makes sure your home properly drains.
If your gutters get clogged and pool up with water, you could suffer costly roof damage. Clean your rain gutters completely with a scraper or trowel, and then rinse them out with a hose to ensure the gutters and the downspouts freely drain. Also, tend to your yard’s drainage. Ensure your yard provides proper grading around the entire perimeter of your home so that water can’t collect around your foundation.
Prepare your yard.
While you’re in the yard, clean your patio furniture and either store or cover it. Don’t forget to turn off the water leading to outside water spigots, including sprinklers, and switch off any electronic sprinkler controllers, as well. Also, remove and store any hoses connected to spigots.
Tend to your garage door.
Inspect your garage door for any loose hinges and hardware. Lubricate them along with the rollers using a good penetrating oil. If you find any major repairs, especially those involving the springs, leave them to the professionals. If your garage door is wood, determine whether or not it needs a fresh coat of paint to protect it from the cold and wet ahead.
Check your doors and windows.
The seams and weather stripping around your doors and windows can leak hot air, and drive up costs. To check them turn on any exhaust fans in your home (such as bathroom fans or oven hoods), and then carefully move a lit candle or lit incense around the seams of your doors and windows. If the flame flickers or the smoke shifts, then you know air is leaking in (or out) at that point. Also, if you have screen doors or window covers that you typically remove before winter, now is the time to do it.
Keep your water heater clean and cozy.
If you have a gas-fired hot water heater, cut heating costs by insulating the tank so it keeps water warmer longer. These insulating wraps are available at most home stores, and provide installation instructions. While you’re at it, turn off the heater and water, release the pressure valve and drain out a bucket or two of water from the tank. Focus on fire safety. More home fires occur in winter than any other time of year. So, replace the batteries in all your smoke detectors, and test them to ensure they work properly. Also, create a family fire evacuation plan and meeting point and practice it. Map out escape routes for each room, and determine if you will need portable fire ladders. Place easily accessible fire extinguishers in key areas, and make sure they are charged.
By tackling these few simple chores, you’ll make winter more pleasant and prevent some nasty surprises next spring!