Welcome Winter with These End-of-Summer Home Maintenance Tips
Whether the beginning of autumn in your region brings the first snow flurries or still means flip-flops and t-shirts, it’s important to winterize your home as summer winds down to an end. Eventually, the temperatures will drop in all areas, which can raise power bills. And no matter where you are, the leaves are falling, which can clog your gutters. Take the time now to handle end-of-summer maintenance projects to protect your home and your wallet.
Cleaning out the gutters is imperative if you want to prevent damage to your home. Clogged gutters and drains can cause water to leak into your home, leading to an array of issues and an increase in energy costs. While cleaning out your gutters, check for misalignments, which can also lead to water damage. You can opt to tackle the task yourself, or you can hire a professional.
All homeowners have the same goal of keeping inside air in and outside air out. Air leaks in your home make your HVAC system work harder than it needs to and makes it more difficult for you to be comfortable in your home. An overworked HVAC system can bump up energy costs and shorten the system’s life cycle. Use caulk to seal any cracks and openings around doorframes, and use weatherstripping to seal windows.
Since your furnace spent the last few months in hibernation, it needs to be checked out before you turn it on. At the onset of autumn, have your furnace cleaned and inspected by a professional. Sediment buildup can cause your system’s efficiency to decrease and could potentially lead to a fire. You should also change your furnace filter regularly, as a dirty filter decreases airflow and reduces efficiency.
Besides replacing air filters, there are other home maintenance tasks that are simple and easy that can help you avoid costly repairs. Regardless of the season, you should regularly check your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors. As the temperatures drop more and more, it becomes imperative that you try to prevent frozen pipes. Never set your thermostat lower than 55 degrees, even if you’re out of town. Add foam insulation to pipes, and wrap exposed pipes with electrical heat tape. On particularly colder nights, open under-sink cabinets to let warm air circulate around the pipes, and allow a few faucets to trickle, as moving water resists freezing.
Your home’s duct system is hidden away in the attic or underneath the home, so it’s easy to forget about it. However, a home with central heating can lose 20 to 30 percent of the air that moves through the duct system, substantially raising the energy bill. Therefore, it’s crucial to make sure your ducts are properly sealed and insulated.
As summer ends and fall takes over, the nights get longer. This often equates to outdoor lights being left on for longer periods of time. Consider switching to energy-efficient bulbs and products for outdoor pathway lights, porch lights, and floodlights. Look for LED lights that can tolerate snow and rain, and opt for ones with daylight shut-off and motion sensors. During the holidays, switching to LED decorative lights can further reduce energy costs.
When the leaves begin to change colors, it’s time to start preparing for winter. You don’t have to do it all in one weekend; break up the projects over a few weekends, or assign certain tasks to each family member. Following these tips will help protect your home from a costly repair, such as flooding from a busted pipe, and help you stay warm and cozy, while also decreasing energy use and your power bill.