It’s that time of the year. Fall is here and before we know it, winter will be knocking on our doors.
Living in West Hartford, the Farmington Valley or any of the other Hartford area towns, we know we need to protect our properties from the pretty brutal winters we can have.
Now is the time to prepare your home for the upcoming season. Most of these Fall maintenance tips you can do yourself. Following these steps can help you lower your utility bills and protect your home.
FALL MAINTENANCE CHECKLIST
1. Prepare your lawn mower for storage – If you use fuel stabilizer, add it to the remaining gas in your gas can. This will prevent the gas from deteriorating over the winter. Fill the gas tank of your mower to the top with the stabilized fuel and run the engine for a few minutes (outside of course!) to allow the fuel to circulate. The other options it to run the lawn mower dry before you stow it away for the winter.
2. Turn off all exterior faucets – Disconnect all of your hoses and store them in the garage or shed. Turn off the shut off valves inside the home and drain any remaining water in the faucets. If you are have a newer home (less than 15 years old) you may have frost-proof faucets eliminating the need to turn them off inside the home.
3. Drain and turn off irrigation system – This one I would recommend you hire a professional to do for a cost of $75-$150 depending on the size of your yard. You don’t want to chance frozen pipes that can burst or broken sprinkler heads!
If you choose to do it yourself, then follow these steps:
- Turn off the water to the system at the main valve.
- Shut off the automatic controller.
- Open drain valves to remove water from the system.
- Remove any above-ground sprinkler heads, shake the water out of them and put them back on.
4. Clean out your gutters– Make sure your gutters are cleaned out thoroughly of any debris such as leaves or branches to prevent possible leaks or ice dams. Repair any loose or missing gutters.
5. Redirect downspouts – Downspouts should extend 3-5 feet away from the foundation. First prepare soil so that it slopes away from the house. Important – the soil should not touch the siding on the home. Then add downspout extensions as needed to prevent water entry into the basement or cracked foundations. Downspout extensions are relatively inexpensive and sold at home improvement stores.
6. Prune trees and shrubs – Once the summer growth cycle is over, it’s time to start pruning. Make sure limbs and branches are at least three feet away from the home. If you have limbs close to power lines, it is advisable you hire an arborist to trim these branches. Many horticulturalists advise waiting until later winter to prune most plants once they are fully dormant. Consult a master gardener for advice on when to prune specific plants.
7. Visually inspect roof, chimney and siding – Look for damaged, loose or missing shingles. Call a handyman or roofer to make necessary repairs in order to prevent leaks. Check the flashing around the chimney to make sure it is sealed properly (have your roofer or handyman do this). Also, check for any missing mortar on the chimney and call a chimney repair company to repoint as necessary. Water that builds up inside the bricks will cause them to crack and they may even fall out. If not properly maintained, a chimney can be a very expensive item to fix or rebuild. Also, if you do not have a chimney cap on your chimney, get one. Animals can fall into the chimney and water can leak inside. Walk around your home and check your siding for any loose or missing material and repair as necessary.
8. Call a chimney sweep – Call a licensed chimney sweep to clean your chimney and flue(s) and make any necessary repairs. This will help prevent chimney fires and carbon monoxide from entering into your home. Make sure your damper door opens and closes properly and that there are no cracks in the firebox.
9. Have your furnace or boiler serviced – If you heat your home with oil, you should do this once per year. If you heat with gas, you do not have to do it as often as gas burns cleaner but it’s always a good idea to have an annual inspection of your heating system to make sure it will function properly in the cold days to come. If you heat with gas, you can get an annual service and inspection contract from CNG for $237/year. They only do inspections from May-October. You could get just a service contract for $171/year and a service contract for your water heater for $54/year.
10. Caulk around windows and doors – Look for any gaps between siding and your windows or door frames and caulk where necessary. Use Silicone caulk if using it on the exterior in order to prevent shrinkage and it is waterproof. Don’t forget to seal around any pipes going into the home. Check the windows and exterior doors from the inside of the home also. Caulk any gaps you find and use window glazing putty, if needed, to seal glass into the window frame. If you have areas around the windows or doors that are drafty, add weather-stripping to keep the heat in.
11. Inspect and test sump pump – of you have a sump pump, pour several gallons of water into the sump pit to make sure the pump turns on. Install a back up, battery operated pump if you do not already have one. If the power goes out, your sump pump will not work. In order to prevent water intrusion in the basement, a battery operated back up is a relatively inexpensive remedy to prevent water intrusion in your basement.
12. Restock on winter essentials – Stock up now on ice salts or ice melt, shovels, scrapers and a roof rake. Get fuel for your snow blower and test it to make sure it is working properly.
Some additional winter tips and information:
If you have ceiling fans in your home, reverse the switch so the blades turn in a clockwise direction. This will create an updraft thus allowing the warm air on the ceiling to push down. Remember, hot air rises. This is especially helpful in rooms with very high ceilings. You will save yourself a few dollars!
Have a home energy audit done for $75.00. The contractor will check for and fix any air leaks, check for proper insulation and recommend improved insulation in the attic in order to prevent ice dams, install energy-efficient compact fluorescent light bulbs and make other energy saving recommendations. You can call Home Energy Solutions at 1-877-947-3873 for more information and for a list of contractors in your area. This is a program is administered by CNG and CL&P.
If you are thinking of buying your or selling, lets talk! Call me for a free consultation – 860-578-2623