Take advantage of the moderate temperatures of early fall and prepare for the winter to help protect your largest asset and investment: Your property!
1. Rain Gutters: If you have been meaning to have these installed but have not yet then now is a great time to have that done. Diverting the flow of rain, melting snow and ice away from your home is really important and can help prevent rot and leaks in places you may never even suspect. If you already have gutters then near the end of fall, after most of the leaves have fallen, be sure to have leaves and other debris cleared out and rinsed with a hose. Doing this helps to prevent the much larger headaches of overflow and drainage issues during winter and spring.
2. Outdoor faucets: Be sure to drain garden hoses and pack them away and drain any outdoor shut off valves or faucets. Irrigation systems and outdoor sprinklers should also be properly drained and turned off to avoid freezing and bursting once the temperatures plummet.
3. Fire Safety: It is a good habit to always change the batteries in your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors twice a year, to coincide with the Daylight Savings Time changes. Winter also brings with it cozy candles, cooking and use of fireplace and woodstoves. It is important to have at least one working fire extinguisher located in or near your kitchen but many advise having one on each floor. Make sure fire extinguishers are charged and usable.
4. Have furnace checked: Have your furnace inspected now so that you can take care of any problems before you really need the heat. It is recommend that homeowners change the furnace filter every few years, but a regular maintenance program should also include checking the pilot light and thermostat, and opening heating vents to make sure everything is working safely and efficiently.
5. Chimneys and fireplaces: Chimneys and fireplaces should be evaluated by a licensed inspector to help avoid any accidents caused by creosote buildup, dirty flues, or other hidden dangers. Make sure to keep your dry wood in a place you will be easily able to access it and where it will stay dry.
6. Pack away outdoor furniture: You may be tempted to leave your patio or deck furniture outdoors during the all year but it will last much longer if it is stored indoors. Clean and allow completely dry then cover with blankets to prevent damage. Be sure to property cover your grill as well.
7. Yard: Have your lawn aerated and seed patchy areas of grass. Also fertilize with a high phosphorus mix to ensure healthy grass in the spring. Plant any new shrubs and bulbs for spring. Trim perennials back and if deer tend to feed on your plants or trees during winter months when food is scarce, be sure to cover plants with netting and chicken wire. Have branches hanging too low trimmed before they become weighed down with snow and ice.
8. Peeling paint: Check the exterior trim and siding for any peeling paint. When this happens the existing paint film is failing and can no longer protect the siding of the building. Left uncorrected, the siding itself will deteriorate, leading to expensive repairs in the future. The low humidity and temperatures of early fall create the perfect conditions for exterior painting to be done.
9. Inspect shingles & roof: Your roof is the first line of defense for protecting the entire home and you will want to confirm it is in good shape before winter to avoid discovering that you have a leaky roof during a snowstorm. Look for missing or loose shingles and have repaired or replaced. if the shingles appear to be curling up then it is time to make a plan to have the roof reshingled or have a new roof installed. Install heat tape in areas prone to ice dams or where the pitch isn’t steep enough to allow for snow to slide off.
10. Ceiling fans: Change the direction of your ceiling fans to create an upward draft which redistributes warm air from the ceiling down to the floor.
Nicole Foster is a Broker with Regency Realty specializing in new construction, single family and residential properties. She lives in Windham with her husband and four children.