Being a Happy Homeowner also means keeping your house happy, too!
With Fall in full swing, now is a great time to start thinking about prepping your home for the cold weather. The winter will bring along ice, cold air, and freezing temperatures that can all have an impact on your home (especially your roof, windows and doors). Take these preventive measures, most of which you can do yourself, to avoid costly cold weather disasters.
Inspect and protect your heating and air conditioning systems. Air conditioner wall units should be removed, or at least covered and sealed to prevent any cold air from coming in. If you have central air, you should have the outdoor unit inspected, cleaned, and covered for the winter. Inside, your heating system can benefit from a routine inspection and maintenance tune-up as well, along with checking for carbon-monoxide leakages. If you don’t have one already, signing up for an inexpensive annual maintenance agreement on your heating system can help prevent costly repairs down the line. You should also clean the heating vents and radiators to remove any blockages, and replace all your air filters.
Seal out the drafts and protect the exterior. Keeping the cold air out will help to keep the inside warm. Check for drafts around windows and doors by simply taking a lit candle and moving it around the frame. If you find any drafts, install weather-stripping if needed. You can also install a door sweep to stop drafts from exterior doors. While you are checking the outdoor windows, you should inspect the wood trim, and give it a coat of paint, some caulk and seal it, as it can deteriorate quickly if not protected. If the gaps between the siding and window or door frames are bigger than the width of a nickel, reapply the exterior caulk.
Clean gutters and check the roof. If your gutters are full of leaves and debris, water can get in and freeze, potentially causing damage to the house and roof. If you haven’t already, clean it out to prevent ice dams and icicles. While you are up there, repair any broken shingles that might lead to roof leaks. Back on the ground, check your drainage. Be sure the downspouts are properly attached to the house and can drain water away from it. Consider adding extensions so water runs 3-4 feet away from foundation.
Clean your chimney. If you have a fireplace, you should have a chimney sweep clean and inspect it. If the chimney itself needs to be fixed or repointed, this is the perfect time to do it. Ensuring the chimney is clear of obstruction makes for a safe home. If you have a fire burning fireplace or a wood burning stove, stock up on wood or pellets.
Test smoke and carbon monoxide detectors. Winter makes your home more susceptible to fire and carbon monoxide leaks, especially with the furnace blasting, building fires and keeping windows closed tight. Be sure that your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors are properly working, and replace the batteries if needed. If you don’t have a carbon monoxide detector, this is a great time to add one.
Reverse your ceiling fans. If your ceiling fans have a reverse switch, this means it will run the fan’s blades clockwise, producing an updraft and pushing down the heated air from the ceiling. Since heat rises, this can help circulate the warmer air.
Shut down any outdoor water sources. Close down the valves and drain your sprinklers and outside faucets. Drain, remove and store garden hoses. You can also consider insulating any exterior faucets so that they don’t freeze or get damaged.
Check your trees. Check any trees in your yard to make sure they are healthy and no branches are in danger of falling under the weight of the snow. Clearing the branches now can prevent damages to your home or your neighbor’s property.
Cover your patio furniture. Cover your furniture on a clear, warm day so you don’t trap moisture underneath it.
Get ready for snow removal. If you have a snowblower, check it out to ensure it is working properly. Store it in a place where you can easily get to it. You should also stock up on salt, and keep shovels handy for when the time comes.
Taking some preventive measures now can save you in the long run. Making these changes and being proactive means that you can sit back and enjoy winter without worrying about your home.
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South County Mortgage is a licensed mortgage brokerage providing better than bank service and better than bank rates to Rhode Island residents for over 20 years. Visit our website for more info, www.scmtg.net.