Winter is coming. Don't be fooled by this mild fall weather! This means cooler temperatures are coming soon and lots of left over debris from trees and bushes need to be cleaned up before they go dormant. To help prepare your home for the winter, here are some common tips you can start now before it gets too late!
1. Tune up your heating systems. For about $80 to $100, a technician will inspect your furnace or heat pump to be sure the system is clean and in good repair, and that it can achieve its manufacturer-rated efficiency. The inspection also measures carbon-monoxide leakage. If you act soon, you'll minimize the chance of being 200th in line for repairs on the coldest day of the year.
2. Reverse your ceiling fans. If your ceiling fan has a reverse switch, use it to run the fan's blades in a clockwise direction after you turn on your heat. Energy Star says the fan will produce an updraft and push down into the room heated air from the ceiling (remember, hot air rises). This is especially helpful in rooms with high ceilings -- and it might even allow you to turn down your thermostat by a degree or two for greater energy savings.
3. Prevent Ice Dams. If your home had lots of icicles last winter -- or worse, ice dams, which can cause melt-water to back up and flow into your house -- take steps to prevent potential damage this year. A home-energy auditor or weatherization contractor can identify and fix air leaks and inadequate insulation in your home's attic that can lead to ice dams. If you have the work done before December 31, 2013, you can claim the federal energy-efficiency tax credit for 10 percent of the cost (excluding installation), up to $500. Your state or utility may offer a rebate, too.
Clean the Gutters. If your gutters are full of detritus, water can back up against the house and damage roofing, siding and wood trim -- plus cause leaks and ice dams. You'll typically pay $70 to $225 to clean gutters on a single-story house, depending on its size. Also look for missing or damaged gutters and fascia boards and repair them.
4. Turn off exterior faucets. Undrained water in pipes can freeze, which will cause pipes to burst as the ice expands. Start by disconnecting all garden hoses and draining the water that remains in faucets. If you don’t have frost-proof faucets (homes more than ten to 15 years old typically do not), turn off the shut-off valve inside your home.
Mulch leaves when you mow. Mow your leaves instead of raking them, according to studies at the University of Michigan and Purdue. The trick is to cut the leaves, while dry, into dime-sized pieces that will fall among the grass blades, where they will decompose and nourish your lawn over the winter.
5. Call a chimney sweep. Before you burn the Yule log, make sure your fireplace (or any heating appliance burning gas, oil, wood or coal), chimney and vents are clean and in good repair. That will prevent chimney fires and prevent carbon monoxide from creeping into your home.
As I have said before, please call a local Realtor for all your real estate needs no matter how big or small. We are trained professionals here to make your life easier. It's best to surround yourself with the right team of professionals that can continuously give you the right advice for all your circumstances.
Lisa DiBiase is a Broker/Owner. She and her company represent buyers and sellers in the Greater Portland area. For all your real estate needs contact firstname.lastname@example.org