It’s almost that time of year again. Cooler mornings are on the way and it’s time to start thinking about getting your home ready for cooler months. So, what are the most important areas to think about?
One important area is your gutters and downspouts. First, take some time to inspect your current gutters and downspouts for holes, loose connections, or debris. Make sure any leaves or debris are cleared out so water can run freely. If you don’t feel comfortable doing this on your own, there are gutter professionals out there who can help. They can also determine if you have any sections that need replacing. Once all the debris is cleared out, you may want to consider investing in leaf guards. Leaf guards can make a huge difference during cooler months when leaves are falling to prevent clogs or blockages. They help ensure that water can run freely and make gutter maintenance much easier. Another thing to consider regarding downspouts and drainage is adding downspout extensions and burying them to divert water away from your house. This is especially helpful if you have a crawlspace or basement to protect the integrity of your foundation and keep moisture out. If you decide to go this route, I recommend calling a landscape professional to help.
The next area to think about is your HVAC system. You want to make sure your system is running smoothly both to keep you comfortable as the weather starts changing and to keep your wallet happy, too. If your system is not working properly, that can have a big impact on your energy bills. First, check your air filter. An air filter should be changed anywhere from every couple of months to every six months depending on the type of unit and type of filter. If you haven’t changed yours in a while, now would be a great time. This will help with air flow in the unit and air quality throughout your home. If you haven’t changed your filter regularly and notice that you or your family’s allergies have gotten worse or your home has any odors, you might consider having your ductwork cleaned, as well. There are several companies out there that do this type of work. Finally, at the change of the season, it’s a great time to call a local HVAC company out to service your unit. They will make sure everything is running properly, which will in turn help prolong the life of your unit.
The next items to check are your windows and doors. When air escapes out of leaks or cracks, your heating system must work harder. If you want to prevent sky-high power bills this winter, you must ensure there is no unwanted air leakage in your home. Fixing this issue is fairly simple. Caulk can be used to seal openings around door frames, while weather stripping is best to use around windows. If you have an older home with single pane windows, consider replacing your windows with double-pane energy-efficient windows. This has a higher cost up-front but will pay off by saving you lots of money on your energy bills in the long run. You might also consider a home energy audit to better understand your home energy use and where other improvements can be made.
Finally, make sure your home is safe from potential fire hazards. Check your fireplace and chimney for built up soot or debris or have your fireplace cleaned and inspected by a professional. This will give you peace of mind while you cozy up by the fire as the weather gets colder. Also, inspect your carbon monoxide and smoke detectors. Make sure they have new batteries and test them to make sure they are working properly. In addition, keep a fire extinguisher in the home in case of emergencies. Another thing people don’t always think about that could be a fire hazard is their dryer vent. Make sure it is clear of lint and debris and make sure it is vented properly to outside. This will help with air and heat flow. Be sure to check the vent regularly because birds or other critters are more likely to build a nest in the vent for warmth if it’s not sealed properly.
These are just a few important items to consider in getting your home ready for cooler weather. Checking these things regularly will help keep you and your family safe and warm throughout the cooler months.
Photo: courtesy Tracy Tesmer Design/Remodeling