This article comes from Better Homes & Gardens
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.
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.
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.
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.)
Furnace filters trap dust that would otherwise be distributed throughout your home. Clogged filters make it harder to keep your home at a comfortable temperature, thus increasing your utility bills. Simple monthly cleaning is all it takes to keep these filters free of debris. Disposable filters can be vacuumed once before replacement. Foam filters can also be vacuumed, but they don’t need to be replaced unless they are damaged. Use a soft brush on a vacuum cleaner. If the filter is metal or electrostatic, remove and wash it with a firm water spray.
Once a year, it’s a good idea to have your heating system inspected by a professional. To avoid the last-minute rush, consider scheduling this task in early fall before the heating season begins.
Even if you use your fireplace only occasionally, you should check it annually for damage and hazards. First, inspect the flue for creosote, a flammable by-product of burning wood. Too much accumulation in a flue or chimney can result in a devastating fire. Get your chimney inspected annually for creosote buildup. If you use a fireplace or wood stove frequently, have the flue inspected after each cord of wood burned.
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