Fall began Sept. 22, and if you haven’t begun your fall home maintenance tasks yet, it’s time to get started! To help, we’ve gathered some tips.
Smoke alarms save lives
Fall and winter see an increase in home fires, according to the American Red Cross, and faulty smoke alarms were to blame for more than 20 percent of home fire deaths. Sadly, nearly 40 percent of the deaths occurred in homes that didn’t have smoke alarms, according to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA).
If you have smoke alarms in the home, now is the time to check that they’re working properly. Change the batteries if you can’t remember when they were last changed.
Make sure that you have enough smoke alarms in the home. They should be installed outside of each bedroom and on all levels of the home.
“If you and your family sleep with the doors closed, install smoke alarms inside sleeping areas, too,” suggests the NFPA.
NFPA also suggests the following:
- Consider connecting your smoke alarms so that when one sounds, they all do.
- Replace all smoke alarms when they are 10 years old
- Use both ionization and photoelectric alarms throughout the home. The former detects flaming fires and the latter will warn you about smoldering fires.
Check the weather-stripping
Windows and doors are notoriously leaky, allowing our toasty indoor air out and that frosty stuff in. This is tough on your utility bills and uncomfortable for everyone in your home!
Weather-stripping is the way to stop the leaks, but it doesn’t last forever. Periodically, it needs to be replaced. How do you know? Try rattling your windows. If you’re successful, you probably need to replace the weather-stripping.
Doors have weather-stripping, too. If you can see daylight around the door frames you’ll need to strip there as well.
It’s an easy DIY project, and Sal Vaglica of This Old House offers a handy walkthrough of how to choose the right product. You can get tips on installing weather stripping from the U.S. Department of Energy.
Yes, it can be a time-consuming task, but it is one well worth performing. Replacing worn-out weather-stripping can save 10 to 15 percent on your energy bills this winter, according to the U.S. Department of Energy.
Get a tune up
If properly maintained, your HVAC system (heating, ventilation and air conditioning) should last 15 to 20 years. Components within the system, however, have shorter life spans, according to the experts at ThisOldHouse.com. The heat pump, for instance, will die about 16 years after installation.
Since we’re entering into that time of year when our heating systems will start getting heavy use, call in a professional to inspect yours.
If you have an oil heating system, inspect the entire system – tank, line, pipes, fittings, and valves – for leaks. The Massachusetts Environmental and Energy Affairs Department claims that the cost of cleaning up a heating oil leak averages between $20,000 and $50,000. Have your oil company service the furnace and replace any damaged parts.
Forced air systems require seasonal maintenance as well. At the very least, stock up on filters, and change them monthly during fall and winter.
Don’t forget the home’s exterior
Step outside and inspect the exterior of your home from top to bottom.
- Check the gutters. If they’re clogged, clean them out, and then check for leaks. Ensure that the downspouts are still directing water away from the home.
- If you have siding, check to see if it needs caulking.
- Check the exterior corners, where two walls meet. Caulk there as well, if needed. For answers to questions about what should and should not be caulked, head to ElegantPainting.com and read their guide.
- If you’ve been putting off blowing out the irrigation system, consider doing it soon and then wrap the pipes.
- Check trees around the house and trim back any branches that might break during heavy winds.
Of course, there’s lots more you can add to your fall honey-do list, but these tasks will get you started and ensure that your home is safe and sealed from the elements.
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