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End-of-Summer Home Maintenance Tips

The leaves are changing and the air is getting cool outside. It’s that time of year again. The kids are back in school. The season is in its annual transition from late summer to fall. It’s a great time to finish up some of those last minute home projects and get the house ready for winter. Here are a few tips on how prepare your home.


There are several things that should be done to get the house ready for the cold temperatures. The main winter weather hazards associated with freezing temperatures include ice and snow. If not properly maintained, these hazards can cause severe damage to your house along with serious damage to your wallet.


A good way to begin preparing for winter is to focus on the yard. Start by trimming and pruning trees and vegetation around your house. Heavy snow and ice can build up on branches making them heavy and causing them to break off. Use caution trimming branches that reach over or near your house and also near power lines. It might be a good idea to hire a professional tree trimmer. It may cost a little bit of money, but money spent now will prevent damage and even more expensive repairs later.


Another consideration is the roof and gutters. Make sure to clear all the leaves and other debris out of the gutters so that water doesn’t have a place to collect and freeze. As snow melts off the roof, the water will trickle down and need a place to go. You do not want that water to collect and weigh down your gutters or cause pools of water to accumulate on your roof. This could result in leaks.


Ice can also cause damage inside of your home. Water can freeze and expand in your water pipes causing them to burst. This can cause extensive water and flood damage. Fortunately, it’s easy to prevent. Start by leaving the heat on in your home even when you are not there. This will keep the water from freezing in pipes inside the home. Even though water freezing is more common during the nighttime hours, it can still freeze in the middle of the day too. Exterior exposed pipes can be wrapped in insulation to reduce this risk as well. If the heat does go out maybe due to a power outage or winter storm, allow your faucets to drip to relieve pressure inside the pipes, and keep the water moving.


The cost of heating your home can be greatly reduced by ensuring your home is well insulated. On the doors and windows, make sure the weather strips are in good shape and not overly worn. Their purpose is to reduce cold air from coming in and warm air from leaving. Even a tiny gap can make a big temperature and heating bill difference. Checking these will ensure a good seal. Check the insulation in the attic as well. Warm air can heat the snow on your roof until it melts and refreezes forming an ice dam. This causes water to pool and freeze and may weaken the roof structure. Check the insulation around chimneys or vents leading to the roof. If you use a window unit air conditioner, consider removing it for the winter months for better insulation.


Fireplaces and electric heat fans can be great for adding additional heat to an individual room or living space. If you have a particularly chilly room, it’s a great way to help warm it up more. These can also be an ignition source for a house fire. It’s important to not leave them unattended. Make sure they have an auto-off function if they get tipped over - some older heaters don’t have this feature. This safety feature can be a life saver during the cold months. That being said, even when following precautions, accidents can happen. This is a great time to replace batteries and test your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors. Sometimes we forget about these detectors because they stay quiet most of the time, but they are their to help save lives, and should be checked on from time to time.

 

While the weather is still above freezing, it’s prime time to ensure your house is prepared for winter. Doing these preventative tips will help keep everything in proper working order, and keep you warm and safe. Spending a little time and money now will ensure you are not spending a lot of money later on major repairs. Simple things like checking weather strips, examining the insulation in the attic, leaving the heat on, and checking your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors can all be done relatively easily. Make a checklist to make sure no item is missed. If the job is too big for you to do, like trimming trees over the roof or near power lines, don’t neglect it, just spend a little money and hire a professional to do it for you. After you review your list you will be on your way to a happy, warm, safe home.