No Time To Give Gutters A Pass

Avid gardeners know all about fall clean-up. When a perennial fails to bloom anymore, they cut it back. They clean up plant debris from beds and borders. Homeowners need to follow a similar fall checklist, to prepare for cool weather ahead.

For some homeowners, one of the best parts about fall is saying goodbye to the lawn mower for the season. A fuel stabilizer can be added to gasoline to keep it from deteriorating over the winter months. If not, a mower should be run dry before storing it.

No wonder everybody wants to steer clear of the gutter. It’s gross in there. And the leaves, twigs, and dirt that invariably clog gutters can cause problems with proper rain runoff. Once of twice a year, gutters need to be cleaned free of debris. If necessary, worn or damaged gutters and downspouts should be replaced. (Gutters should extend at least five feet from the house to help keep water away from the structure. Downspouts can be added for under $20 per spout.)

Trim trees and bushes to keep foliage about twelve inches away from the siding. If you do not have a regular pest control service plan for your home, you may need to have you home inspected for wood pests.

And who doesn’t love spending quality time with a caulk gun? Before cooler weather hits, sealing up cracks between trim and siding, around windows and doors, and at any pipe and wire openings help create a tighter building envelope. This will keep water out and warm air in. Caulk works best when temperatures are about 50 degrees. It is easy to find color-matched,exterior caulk at hardware stores for under $10.

To avoid problems with the venting for clothes dryer, make sure you disconnect, clean ,and inspect the dryer duct and venting every couple of years, or hire a professional company to clean the dryer components.

To make sure the indoor temperature remains balmy throughout winter, a checkup for the heating system is a good idea too. Such checkups are relatively inexpensive- usually under $200- and can provide reassurance or catch any problems early. It’s a good time to change furnace filters as well.

Smoke and CO detectors are key to indoor safety during months when homes are closed up tight. The batteries in each battery-operated smoke and carbon monoxide(CO) detector should be replaced at least yearly.  Detectors can be checked by pressing the test button or holding a smoke source( like a blown-out candle) near the unit. Smoke detectors should be placed on every floor of the home, and in every sleeping area. Older units should be replaced.

Homes should also be equipped with at least one fire extinguisher rated for all fire types (look for an A-B-C rating on the label). Since most home fires start in the kitchen, keeping one in or near the kitchen makes the most sense.

Finally, if the home has a fireplace, check on that unit as well. Just like gutters, a flue can become clogged by debris or even a birds’ nest or two. Opening the damper and taking a look can reveal any obstructions. When the damper is open, daylight should be visible at the top of the chimney . If any damage is visible, or if it has been a long time between inspections, ordering a professional fireplace and chimney inspection will run between $200 and $500.