Just like a car, the least expensive way to operate a house in the long run is to properly maintain it. A small regular investment in maintenance will potentially save you a large future repair bill!
Here are some nifty DIY tips for giving your home a quick once-over this fall before the winter weather sets in:
- If you put screens on the windows for the spring and summer, it’s time to change them out in favor of the more insulating storm windows and doors.
- Repair or replace caulking and weather stripping around windows and doors to prevent drafts. If you can slip a dollar bill into the gap around your windows/doors, you know where your money is going.
- Service heating systems and replace filters. The fine print on most filters say they last up to 90 days, but it pays to change them far more often – even once a month – during the heating season. Use your monthly heating bill as a reminder to check or replace your filters.
- Inspect the basement for moisture. Tape a garbage bag to the basement floor and leave it there for about 24 hours. If you can see the outline of the bag when you remove it, then you have moisture coming through the concrete. The most likely culprit? Read on…
- Clogged gutters and downspouts can cause water to back up under the foundation and leak into the basement. Clean, inspect and repair gutters and downspouts and install a downspout extension if necessary to control and direct drainage.
- Prevent frozen pipes. Turn off water to exterior hose bibs and drain exterior hose bibs. Leave the bibs open and disconnect hoses.
- Check the attic and roof for water damage. After a big rain storm, grab a flashlight and inspect areas around chimneys and plumbing vent pipes on the roof. Instead of climbing up on the roof and risking a fall, pick up your binoculars and inspect the same spots from the outside, also scanning for missing shingles and loose flashing. When moisture is able to seep up and under loose or damaged shingles far more expensive damage can occur.
- Trim any tree limbs or branches in close proximity to power lines or the roof of your house. Heavy snow and ice can cause damage in the winter.
- Seal the driveway.
- Test carbon monoxide and smoke detectors and change batteries.
- Have your chimney cleaned, especially if you use a wood stove or fireplace a lot during the cold season.