Fall and Winter Home Maintenance Tips

Southern homeowners should follow a season’s maintenance plan to ensure that their homes stay in tiptop cognition. These tasks are not too time consuming or expensive. They will preserve energy in your home, prevent structural damage and protect the home’s systems. Follow these recommendations below in the fall and winter so that small problems don’t lead to surprising and often expensive repairs!

1. Inspect the heating system
Contact a HVAC service professional to thoroughly inspect your furnace including the fan belt that runs the blower. The service should include a vacuuming of all the dust and debris as well as oiling the bearings if needed. The filters should be changed regularly, about once a month in the winter due to constant use of the system. Many companies offer service plans, which include inspections twice a year. These services make sure that your heating system is operating at its maximum efficiency and will help to spot those minor undetected problems that could major damage later on. Also, consider purchasing a programmable thermostat that will save on heating and cooling costs each year.

2. Check smoke and carbon monoxide detectors
Replace your smoke detector batteries twice a year and if any detectors are five years or older consider replacing them. Both carbon monoxide and smoke detectors should be placed high on the wall and on every floor. Note: do not install them within 15 feet of gas appliances, furnaces or fireplaces as they give of small amounts of carbon monoxide when first turned on and can trigger false alarms.

3. Clean and inspect chimneys or gas fireplaces
Whether it is a chimney or gas fireplace make sure to have it properly cleaned and inspected. To prevent chimney fires make sure that the gases from burning wood that can accumulated and form highly flammable creosote are not allowed to build up nd are removed. Make sure the damper is operating properly and there are no holes in the chimney cap.

4. Ceiling fans
Redirect ceiling fans so they are running clockwise at this time of year. The clockwise rotation of the blades forces the rising air to move downward keep the room warm.

5. Seal windows and install storm windows
To eliminate air leaks caulk around the window frames and apply weather-stripping between the window frames and sash. The U.S. Department of Energy claims that windows not properly insulated can cause 10% of leaks exiting from the house. Adding storm windows will also lessen air leakage year round and are easy to install.

6. Inspect the furnace
Contact a HVAC to thoroughly inspect your furnace including the fan belt that runs the blower. The service should include a vacuuming of all the dust nd debris as well as oiling the bearings if needed. The filters must e changed regularly, about once a month in the winter due to constraint use of the system. Consider purchasing a programmable thermostat to further save on your annual heating and cooling costs.

6. Plug hidden leaks
Take a close look at pipes, vents and electrical conduits that run throughout your house via the walls ceiling and colors. Also check under the kitchen and bathroom sink. Fill in the gaps around these pipes with and insulating foam sealant. Caulk can be used to fill in smaller gaps.

7. Protect pipes
It’s no fun when your pipes freeze and then burst. So protect them by wrapping each pipe in a foam tube with slits on the sides. Simply cut the length of the tubes to fit the pipe. Duct tape can be used if there is no self-adhesive to keep them in place.

8. If needed, add insulation
As a rule of thumb, look cross your attic floor and if you can see where your insulation comes up to the joist then you need to add more insulation. If the ceiling joists are covered there is no real benefit to adding more. The recommended amount can vary in the south generally with an R Value of around 38. R Values are the measurements of insulation and it should be 10-14 inches in thickness. Check with Energy Star if you need help.

9. Clean gutters
Twice a year carefully examines your gutters. They should not be pulled out from the roof but fit snugly against the house. Flush them out thoroughly while looking for areas that are dented or cracked. All of these problems can be easily fixed and should not be too costly. Remember the downspouts and make sure that the water is properly draining away from the house. This is a perfect time to check and replace if needed, any exterior lights around your home.

10. Prune and cut vegetation
Fall and winter are good seasons to trim and prune your trees and shrubs. Take a special look at trees near your home for limbs growing over the roof. Make sure to trim back shrubs that are near your home to protect siding. Winter is also a good time to trim shrubs and trees because it’s easy to identify what needs to be done, plus tree services are not as busy in these months. Also homes with overgrown vegetation are prime targets for thieves can they can easily hide while attempting to break in your home!

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