The cooler days of Fall are a picture perfect time to prep one of your biggest investments for the Winter blues. Take ten minutes and review the items on this list. Ask yourself, “do I want to save money in the long term?”
Of course, you do, and investing in small maintenance items now add up to big savings in the future. You will thank yourself for having the foresight to pay attention and take action!
I. Seal Cracks and Gaps in foundation and walls. Remove shelved items from the walls and inspect the areas behind them. A St. Louis homeowner was recently shocked to find a large crack behind the neatly organized shelving system in his basement that not only started leaking, but also was potentially ready to shift the gas line entering the home! Fortunately the water in his basement was the worst of it, but he could have lost his life if the gas line had broken! Use a flashlight to highlight hairline cracks and use this inspection as an opportunity to clean cobwebs and check for rodents and inspects.
II. Add insulation and check for drafts. Checking for drafts is easy. Shut all windows, turn off anything that moves air, and light an incense stick. The sweet smelling smoke will curl and move if passed by a leaky spot. Be sure to check door frames, windows, electrical plates, light switches, vents and fireplace areas including the damper. Add insulation around water pipes, in crawl spaces, and check the attic for pests that could damage that insulation.
III. Clean and repair gutters. Add heat tape to you gutters to prevent ice from forming and damming. Tighten any loose gutters, clean and inspect the interior. A simple tip to extend the life of your gutters is to seal any leaky areas with new technology sealant that is water resistance.
IV. Make exterior home repairs and strengthen your home’s exterior with a fresh coat of paint. Inspect all exteriors and corners, water faucets, siding and chimney intersections, and exterior brick. Exterior paint application is viable until the overnight temperature dips below 50 degrees. There are new technology paints that are designed for cooler temperatures that are successfully applied in the Fall.
V. Change your furnace filter and check the efficiency of the HVAC system. Make sure your humidifier is operating correctly. Flip your cooling ducts to the heat position and check ducts for debris and dust. Call a professional once a year for the furnace inspection. According to Realtytimes.com, if you have “A particularly cold room in your well heated home,” there may be a leak. “With the heat on, every room in your house should be warm. If one room is cold, there may be leaks or holes in your insulation.”
VI. Conduct an Energy Audit. The United States Department of Energy suggests tips and best practices to determine where in your house that you are losing energy and money.
VII. Visually inspect your roof. In the Kansas City area, many have Cedar Shakes. These roofs need inspection at least every two years and repair as needed. Check for missing shingles and inspect the ridge line. This type of repair work is an art, so please be sure to find someone who will repair your roof correctly. Roofing companies make the most money by selling you a new roof, which, in the case of Shake shingles need not be the case if you pay attention to the condition of them.
VIII. Chimney cleaning and maintenance. Hire a chimney sweep before you light your fireplace for the first time when you move into a home. After that, follow a regular inspection schedule, especially if you use it consistently through out the winter. There are problems that can be avoided by noticing moisture leaks, deterioration, damage, cracks, or obstructions. A leak can be deadly if fire is able to penetrate outside of the flue.
IX. Winterize outdoor living components. Store lawn and patio furniture, remove items that freeze from your garage, and review your outdoor lighting. Winter daylight is brief and your exterior lighting needs to be refreshed with new bulbs or updated motion lighting. Timed light systems start at $15.00 and are easily installed. Dark homes invite crime and potentially set you up for a risk of someone falling on a dark, icy sidewalk.
X. Clean and stain your deck. Sweep, and remove obstructions between the boards. Inspect for deterioration of wood, loose nails and warping or split boards. Power-wash carefully as to not too damage the wood or use a stiff handled brush and hose to remove mold, dirt and buildup. A mild detergent or commercial product may be used. Staining is best tackled on a sunny day. If you don’t have the time, call a professional to address your deck needs. Brogan’s Home Painting stains decks. Call Ed for an estimate: 913-449-8468.