Owning a home can be a major financial commitment and to protect your investment, here are a few home maintenance tips that can be accomplished now that the weather is going to be somewhat cooler in the months ahead.
Roof and Exterior
A visual inspection of a home, from the chimney to the foundation, can help reveal vulnerabilities that lead to trouble when wind, freezing temperatures, snow or winter rains rule. Use a drone or binoculars to look for debris, which will need to be cleaned up, and missing or loose shingles, which should be fixed or replaced before they lead to leaks. Overhanging tree limbs should be trimmed, so they can’t come down, potentially puncturing the roof and causing leaks, water damage and mold.
Fall and winter are also prime time for rodents to come indoors for warmth, so it’s important to seal up even the smallest holes and gaps in the foundation, attic or crawl spaces. Firewood should not be stored against the house because it can cause a beetle and/or termite infestation.
To keep gutters running well, check them monthly for twigs, leaves and other debris. Plan bigger cleanings — including running water down all the downspouts — both before autumn leaves fall and again after trees are bare, to be sure fall and winter rain and snowmelt can flow down and away from the house — instead of into the walls, which can cause rot and mold and invite insects.
Clogged gutters, along with poorly ventilated roofs and under-insulated attics are also a common culprit for damaging ice dams. Ice dams form when rooftop snow melts and refreezes, building up thick layers of ice that eventually push into joints and cracks in the roof and cause leaks.
Some experts note that grass will fare better if it is fertilized after the hottest days of summer are over, when the fertilizer can encourage blade growth and strengthen the root system for winter. Rake off all leaves and give the lawn a final mowing once it stops growing. (A local garden center can guide you on fertilizer formulas suited to your climate and lawn.)
Fall is also a good time to cut dead branches off trees, according to the Arbor Day Foundation, but pruning for shape and size should wait for late winter or early spring.
Outdoor pipes and water sources
Sealing a deck can help prevent damage from rain and snow. That means repairing or replacing loose or cracked boards, washing off dirt and mildew, vacuuming and applying a wood sealer. If a path through the snow on a deck is needed, consider using a shovel with a plastic or rubber blade to avoid damaging the wood.
Umbrellas and furniture that could be blown over can be brought inside or stacked and weighted down, to reduce the risk of damage. Grills should be moved indoors and outdoor appliances such as mini fridges should be unplugged.
Doors, windows and other drafty spots
To keep houses warm without sending heating bills through the roof, and to save energy, the federal Environmental Protection Agency recommends sealing spots where cold air can sneak in, focusing on the attic, foundation and around windows and doors. Caulking, weather stripping and door draft guards can be inexpensive DIY fixes.
For single-pane windows, adding plastic film or storm windows reduces heat escape and cold penetration. Replacing them with insulating double-paned windows is a more expensive option.
Using a programmable thermostat or adjusting a manual thermostat before leaving the house or going to bed, can cut the heating bill by as much as 30 percent while still keeping a home cozy, according to the EPA. Consumers can find Wi-Fi-enabled thermostats, which can be managed remotely via smart phone, for about $100 to $300.
Of course, the big payoff is savings on repairs — and your peace of mind. <
This article was brought to you courtesy of Farmers Insurance agent, Jonathan Priest, with an office at 57 Tandberg Trail, Suite 7, Windham. Call him at 207-893-8184 or send him an email at email@example.com