As a homeowner, summer’s end generally marks the beginning for winter preparation. It’s the perfect time to wrap up outdoor projects and take care of routine maintenance work. More importantly, it’s also an opportunity to avoid costly repairs that may otherwise surface during the colder weather. As you prepare for winter, here are some important end-of-summer maintenance tips to include, so that your home is ready.
Get Rid of Dead Wood
Whether it’s branches or twigs, it’s imperative to remove decaying wood prior to winter. It can cause damage by falling on your house or vehicle during storms with high winds or heavy snowfall and ice. Unless you’re familiar with items like a pruner or chain saw, the safest option is to hire a professional to complete the task at hand.
Clear Clogged Gutters
When gutters are properly functioning, they do three things: Prevent water damage to your roof; keep water from collecting around your home’s foundation and entering through the basement (providing you have those); and deter rodents and other vermin from lingering around. Clearing gutters is as easy as stepping on a ladder and using a garden trowel; however, if you’re afraid of heights or you’re a novice ladder user, contacting a professional is probably the best call.
Should you choose to do it yourself, ladder safety is a must. In 2015, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission estimated that 256,000 injuries involving ladders and stools were treated in emergency departments across the nation. Whenever you decide to tackle this project, ask someone to join you by holding the ladder. Also, avoid performing any work during wind and rain, and make sure your ladder setup is correctly.
Check Safety Devices
Inspect your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors by performing tests and replacing batteries. Also, locate your fire extinguishers and confirm they haven’t expired.
Replace Air Filter
Air filters for your heating and air system can generally last anywhere from a month to six months. When you purchase the air filter, there’s usually a recommended time for use; however, if you or someone else in your home has allergies, it should be changed more often. The same applies if you have a pet or multiple pets in the home. Changing the filter at the end of summer guarantees cleaner air and better airflow, which can save you money on your energy bills and overall expenses related to your heating and cooling system.
Schedule a Furnace Inspection
Furnaces usually fail during the coldest days of winter – the worst time to find out your furnace has an issue. A simple way to avoid running into this problem is to have your furnace checked by a professional every August before temperatures get cooler. Another reason to have it checked during this timeframe: HVAC companies usually offer pre-winter specials for maintenance visits.
Frozen pipes are another problem you don’t want to encounter mid-winter. The Red Cross suggests adding insulation to places like attics, basements and crawlspaces, as well as other areas where water supply lines are located. These may be under kitchen and bathroom cabinets or in your garage. It’s important to note that it doesn’t matter if they’re hot or cold pipes, both kinds should be insulated. Should you have exposed pipes (those that run against exterior walls), it’s recommended to insulate those as well by using products like a pipe sleeve, heat tape, heat cable or even newspaper.
While these end-of-summer recommendations may take some time and money to address now, these preventative steps are worth taking to avoid costly repairs down the road. They’ll also better ensure your safety and warmth during the time you need it the most.
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