Even if you’re not a Game of Thrones fan, you’ve likely heard the phrase “Winter is Coming”. In the series, it serves as a family motto and whether we like it or not it will be here soon. The question is are you prepared? You may not be ready to turn the heat up but now is the ideal time to do some home maintenance in preparation for the cold weather. Below is a handy checklist so you can make the most of fall and go into winter knowing your home is ready to battle out the cold.
Put the Backyard to Bed
Prepare the lawn. Either rake up the leaves to ensure they don’t create a blanket that kills the grass and inhibits spring growth or mulch the leaves with the mower every few days to help feed your soil over the winter. Fall is also an ideal time to aerate, fertilize and, if needed, overseed for a more lush lawn next spring.
Clean your yard equipment and prepare it for storage by draining fuel from any gas-operated equipment such as lawn mowers, leaf blowers, or chain saws. Drain the garden hoses and store indoors to prevent warping and cracking. Also let the exterior water valves “bleed” any remaining water left inside before shutting them off. Doing so will help prevent any frozen pipes and leaks that could occur.
Clean Out the Gutters and Downspouts
After most of your leaves have fallen, clean out your gutters and downspouts. If left full of debris, clogged gutters and drains can form ice dams that prevent your drainage systems from working properly. This can lead to water seeping into your home, which can lead to all sorts of issues and extra energy costs. Save yourself the hassle of repairing a leak by simply cleaning your gutters and drains now. When you do, run water through the gutters to check for misalignments that could also cause water damage.
Inspect the Roof
The changing temperatures and ice, rain, snow, and wind can take a toll on your roof during the cooler months. Make sure the roof is in good shape. Check the roof flashings. They’re constructed either of galvanized metal or aluminum and strategically placed along areas where the roof intersects, such as joints, where a chimney interconnects, or along the edges of skylights. Flashing is an extra-protective mechanism designed to direct water to run off the slope of the roof. When flashing is missing or corroded, serious water damage can result. Gusts of high wind or freezing rains can cause flashing to uplift, loosen or tear. Be sure to check the flashing for any signs of tearing or loosening. If you notice any flaws, replace the flashing. Replacing flashing is a small cost compared to replacing the entire roof or fixing the subsequent interior damage due to a winter roof leak.
If you notice any loose or missing shingles, replace them before the winter. How can you tell if a shingle is faulty? Asphalt shingles show signs of damage when the grit along the shingles falls into your gutters or if tabs are lost. You can also tell your roof’s shingles need replacement when you discover twigs, leaves or other debris lodged underneath them. Shingles are a central element in keeping your home dry. Regular maintenance of the shingles on your roof is an inexpensive way to protect against the harsh elements.
Also check for granules in your gutters, this is a sign that your roof’s coating is coming off which could lead to more problems.
Get Your Heating System Serviced
Before cranking up the heat, hire a technician to inspect your furnace and heat pump. This ensures your heating system works at the recommended efficiency and that carbon monoxide leaks are prevented. During the winter try to change your filter regularly; a dirty filter will decrease air flow and energy-efficiency. And if your furnace is ready to be replaced, buy an energy-efficient model. It will save you money and energy each month.
Ready the Fireplace
If you have a woodstove or fireplace, make sure they’re in working order before firing them up again. A regularly used fireplace should also have an annual cleaning to prevent chimney fires. Professional chimney cleaners will perform the kind of detailed inspection that you may not have the time or tools to do on your own. Their work helps keep your fireplace chimney free of buildup or debris that can impair its most critical functions – channeling smoke, carbon monoxide and airborne ash away from your home. Small maintenance items like this will keep your home both cozy and safe.
Get the Snow Equipment Up and Running
It’s a good idea to pre-check your winter equipment to see if it’s still working and usable. Are your snow blower and shovels ready for another bout with winter? Do you have sidewalk salt or equivalent? Store your garden hoses, lawn mowers, and hedge trimmers towards the back of your shed or basement and move your snow equipment out to an easily accessible indoor area. It may sound overly proactive, but you don’t want to find out the snow blower won’t start when there’s 6 inches of snow on the ground.
If you do find something that needs replacement or repair as you work through this checklist, call Xtreme Home Improvement and get the necessary work done before more costly damages occur.