Crisp fall evenings snuggled up next to the fireplace will be even more satisfying if you know your house is ready for the winter months. Here are a few tips to get your house in tip top shape for the fall and winter months.
Speaking of fireplaces, let’s start there. Now is a great time to hire a chimney sweep to clean and inspect your chimney to make sure there’s not creosote build-up. Check to make sure there aren’t any creatures nesting in there, and check the damper to make sure it opens and closes properly. Finally, go outside and inspect the chimney for loose bricks, cracks in the mortar and to make sure the chimney cap is in place. If you have a woodpile, make sure it’s not stacked up against the house to prevent insects and other uninvited guests from making themselves at home.
Since heating your home is going to be important very soon, now is also a good time to have your furnace tuned up. Do this now before the season gets into full swing and the service companies get busy. Tune ups will clean off the dust and dirt from the air-shutter openings, exhaust vents, and the burner (if it’s a gas system) and ensure that everything is venting properly. You should also inspect the thermostat and replace filters at this time.
Now is also a great time to vacuum off carbon monoxide detectors and change the batteries in your smoke detectors. Remember that the sensors do wear out over time, so it’s important to test them. Replace whenever they don’t perform well in a test or if they are more than 10 years old. Also, fire extinguishers older than six years should be replaced.
Once the heat is turned on, remember to reverse your ceiling fans. Many fans have a reverse switch. Running the fan clockwise to produce an updraft will push heat down into the room, which may allow you to turn down the thermostat a degree or two.
Now check your windows and doors for air leaks. Caulk and weather stripping can deteriorate over time. If you close window or door on a piece of paper and it slides easily, the weather stripping isn’t blocking air from passing. You can also check for air leaks by holding a lighted candle around the door or window frame and watching for the flame to flicker, indicating air is passing through. Be careful not to do this near anything flammable, like curtains or blind cords. It’s a good idea to replace cracked or shrunken caulk around windows to prevent water penetration as well. It’s a good idea to go ahead and wash the windows now, too. Let the light in during the winter months.
Outside, start by cleaning the gutters to prevent clogs, damage to the exterior of the house and ice dams on the roof. Repair any damaged fascia or siding at this time. Also, make sure downspouts are able to carry water a few feet away from the foundation. While you’re up on the ladder, take a look at the roof. Check for any damaged, loose or missing shingles that may leak during winter’s storms or from melting ice. Check the flashing seals around vents and chimneys, too.
In the garden, prune dead branches or branches and limbs so they are not hanging over the roof or power lines. Cover delicate plants as the weather cools and plant spring bulbs, then refresh the mulch in flowerbeds and gardens. Drain hoses and store them in a covered place. Cover outside faucets to prevent freezing. If your sprinkler system does not have a rain/freeze sensor, consider having one installed. Prepare your mower for sitting idle during the winter by either draining the gas from the tank or adding a stabilizer to the tank and topping it off. This will protect the carburetor and make the motor easier to start in the spring.
For more tips on winterizing your home, ask your MetroTex Realtor. Visit the most trusted source for information on buying or selling a home, at www.dfwrealestate.com.