It's that time of year again. Fall and winter provide excellent opportunities to do some sprucing up and getting ready for the season ahead. So, once again, it's time for:
Specifically, the Fall/Winter Seasonal Chores List. You have to do it anyway, so this gift is for you.
It seems like every year I will be driving home and hear on the news that it will get below freezing during the night. That's the time I usually realize I have not gotten ready for fall or winter. My hose bibs immediately spring to mind. (It's good to be on top of things like I am...)
Note: Obviously this is long past true for some of the country. My list is pretty complete, though likely not totally complete. No one ever knows everything. But, I thought it would be helpful to share some of it with you.
* Winterize the exterior hose bib valves. Turn off the interior valves, open the exterior bibs and loose the little cap beside the interior valve to break the vacuum and let water drain out.
* Test your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors. Replace the batteries if that has not been done in a while. If your detectors are older than 10 years of age, replace the entire mechanism.
* Spruce up any disastrous exterior caulking. Be sure to use the right caulk for the right application! Caulking is the cheapest and easiest energy saver. Be sure the caulk is fully dried before it freezes at night. Never paint or apply caulk if the temperature is less than 50F.
* Boilers - check the safety relief valve.
* Steam Boilers - Each month, flush the blow-off valve on the low-water cutoff; test the water feed valves.
* Furnace - replace (or clean) the filters monthly; oil the fans or circulators; manipulate the duct dampers or register covers to divert more hot air downstairs and less up (do not close off air completely to any level or room). Oil furnaces should be checked for back puffing. Ideally, all furnaces should have annual maintenance examinations by a licensed professional.
* Clean moss on the roof - be sure to use something that does not kill the grass or garden shrubbery. I understand from northwesterners that after cleaning a pile of laundry detergent along the ridge of the roof will wash down during rains and help clean completely.
* Clean gutters of debris. If your house is near many trees, solid gutter covers are highly recommended. This is important not only in the fall, but the spring too.
* Place sticky cricket catchers in the basement and garage.
* Septic system - pump the tank if it is time. If you have two fields this is a good time to divert to the unused field.
* Check your chimneys for creosote and sweep if needed. Repair any damage.
* Improve foundation drainage as necessary.
* Test GFI outlets.
* Test AFCI breakers.
* Check the garage door reversing mechanism. Put your foot through the photo eye plane and see if the door reverses.
* Gas water heater - drain some water from the bottom valve to remove sediment.
* Open crawl space vents.
* Dryer - clean behind the dryer and the dryer mechanism itself, clean what is possible of the vent inside the wall and check the vent flap outside for lint.
* Private water system - pump air into the tank if the pump turns on often.
* Sprinkler system - if you cannot do it yourself, have your maintenance company by to blow the water out of the lines, disconnecting things where necessary, so that only air is left inside. You don't want your tubing breaking underground over the winter.
* Kitchen - clean dust from behind or under the fridge; clean the range hood fan and clean or replace vent screens; clean disposal (vinegar and baking soda work well, followed by lemon peels).
This is by no means a complete list, but it will serve you well. It works for me!
Preparation is everything. As a guy associated with the Boy Scouts for a long time, I can tell you it is good to "be prepared...!" That may be one of the best mottoes ever written.
My recommendation: Be regular and have foresight! Home maintenance, in the long run, costs about 1% of the value of a home per year. Pay attention to the small stuff, and the big things will take care of themselves.
Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC
Based in Bristow, serving all of Northern Virginia