Realty Executives Midwest
Serving Darien, IL
Realty Executives Midwest
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It's time to prepare your home to withstand winter weather. Follow our fall checklist for must-do repairs and other seasonal maintenance tips.
As the season begins to change, it's time to prep your home for falling leaves, cooler weather, and, eventually, winter storms. Tackling a few fall home maintenance tasks now can help ward off issues later in the season, so you can enjoy everything you love about autumn worry-free. Most of the tasks listed below are well within the average homeowner's ability. But even if you'd rather hire a professional to handle them, it can be well worth the expense. You'll save money in the long run by preventing costly (and potentially dangerous) damage to your home. Follow this fall maintenance checklist and learn essential tips for cleaning gutters, roofs, fireplaces, and more.
Your roof's drainage system annually diverts thousands of gallons of water from your house's exterior and foundation walls, so it's vital to keep this system flowing smoothly. Clogged gutters can lead to damaged exterior surfaces and water in your basement. They are also more prone to rust and corrosion. Before the leaves fly this fall, clean your gutters, then cover them with mesh gutter guards to keep debris from returning.
A home with air leaks around windows and doors is like a coat left unbuttoned. Gaps in caulk and weatherstripping let cold air into your warm home, and sealing up a drafty house can save up to 20% on your heating bills, according to the U.S. Department of Energy.
Weatherstripping is easily the most cost-effective way to rein in heating and cooling costs. This humble material also reduces drafts and keeps your home more comfortable year-round. Because weatherstripping can deteriorate over time, it is important to inspect it periodically. If you suspect a problem with your weatherstripping, try closing a door or window on a strip of paper. If the paper slides easily, your weatherstripping isn't properly sealing the opening. Alternatively, close the door or window and hold a lighted candle near the frame. (Don't let the flame get near anything flammable!) If the flame flickers at any spot along the frame, you have an air leak.
In addition to inspecting weatherstripping, check for missing or damaged caulk around windows, doors, and entry points for electrical, cable, phone, and gas. Seal any gaps with a suitable caulk. If drafts around windows persist, consider getting your windows replaced. Glass with multiple panes, spacers, or filler gasses (such as argon or krypton) will likely solve these problems. A professional can swap out your problem windows with more efficient models that will increase your level of comfort while decreasing your heating bills.
Few homeowner problems are more vexing than a leaky roof. Once the dripping starts, finding the source of the problem can be time-consuming. Stop problems this fall before ice and winter winds turn them from annoyances into disasters.
Start by inspecting your roof from top to bottom, using binoculars if necessary. Check ridge shingles for cracks and wind damage. Look for damage to metal flashing in valleys and around vents and chimneys. Scan the entire roof for missing, curled, or damaged shingles. Look in your gutters for large accumulations of granules, a sign that your roof is losing its coating, which can portend larger problems. Finally, make sure your gutters are flowing freely.
Editor's Tip: Roof-mounted television antennas, even if they aren't in use, may have guy wires holding them in place. Look for loose or missing guy wires. If you see some, and your antenna is no longer being used, consider having it removed altogether.
If you live in an area with freezing weather, take steps to ensure that outside faucets (also called sill cocks) and in-ground irrigation systems don't freeze and burst. First, close any shut-off valves serving outside faucets, then open the outside faucet to drain the line. (There may be a small cap on the faucet you can loosen to facilitate this draining.) If you don't have shut-off valves, and your faucets are not "freeze-proof " types, you might benefit from styrofoam faucet covers ($6, Walmart), which are sold at many home centers.
To freezeproof an in-ground irrigation system, follow the manufacturer's procedure for draining it and protecting it from winter damage.