The transition from summer to fall is the perfect time to get your home ready for colder, wetter weather. The following essential tasks can save you from having to deal with much larger problems.
1. Inspect your roof for damage.
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.
2. Clean the gutters and downspouts.
The roof drainage system diverts thousands of gallons of roof run-off water away from the foundation. It is vital to keep this system flowing smoothly. Clogged gutters can lead to damaged exterior surfaces and can result in water intrusion into the home. They are also more prone to rust and corrosion. Remember to clean the gutters and any clogs in the downspouts. Install mesh gutter screens and downspout extensions as needed.
3. Seal air leaks.
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. According to the U.S. Department of energy, sealing a drafty house can save up to 20% on your heating bills.
Weather stripping and caulk can deteriorate over time. It is important to inspect them periodically. If you suspect a problem with your weatherstripping, look for daylight through the door or window. Try closing the door or window on a strip of paper. If the paper slides easily, your weatherstripping is not properly sealing the opening.
4. Winterize hose faucets and lawn irrigation systems to protect them from freezing temperatures.
Take steps to ensure that outside faucets and in-ground irrigation systems do not freeze and burst. Close any shut-off valves serving outside faucets, then open the outside faucet to drain the line. There may be a barrel adjuster cap on the shut-off valve to facilitate this draining. If you do not have shut-off valves, and the hose faucets are not frost-proof, Styrofoam faucet covers can be used.
Follow the manufacturer's procedure for winterizing and protecting lawn irrigation systems from winter damage, or hire a lawn irrigation system company to properly winterize the system.
5. Replace the HVAC filter.
HVAC filters trap dust that would otherwise be distributed throughout the home. Clogged filters affect system efficiency, can make it difficult to keep your home at a comfortable temperature, and can result in increased utility costs.
6. Service the heating system before the heating season.
It is a good idea to have your heating system inspected and serviced by an HVAC professional annually. To avoid the last-minute rush, consider scheduling this task in early fall before the heating season begins.
7. Have a certified chimney sweep inspect and clean any flues, chimneys, and fireplaces.
All flues, chimneys, and fireplaces should be inspected by a certified chimney sweep annually. Fall is a great time to have this done before the heating season begins. A certified chimney sweep can provide a determination of interior condition and can ensure that flues, chimneys, and fireplaces function properly and safely.
Call Stavlas Home Inspections at 410-428-5507 to schedule your next home inspection or schedule online at www.stavlasinspections.com.