Winter is coming....
Despite it being 60 degrees during the third week of November in Westchester County, history has shown winter will eventually make its presence felt. Are you itching for work to do during your weekends off from work? Do you need an excuse to avoid going Christmas shopping on Saturday? Would you literally rather do ANYTHING else than give little Jimmy his driving lesson? Here are some home maintenance items you can use as an excuse!
Clean your gutters
Any home inspector will tell you gutters are the first line of defense against water damage around your foundation and basement. Debris such as leaves and twigs can accumulate in the gutters, blocking them and causing water to overflow. If you feel comfortable climbing a ladder, you can put some heavy-duty gloves on and get up near the downspout to grab the bigger pieces of debris. Then take a hose and wash out the remaining smaller pieces. Take this opportunity to also do a gutter inspection of your own. Check to make sure they're all connected and operating as intended. You may notice damage to your fascia boards that wasn't visible from the ground.
Hire a chimney sweep
Whenever I inspect a home with a fireplace I recommend the buyer to bring in a chimney sweep prior to using it for the first time. The fact is some homeowners just aren't diligent about bringing in a chimney sweep on an annual basis. What better time to bring one in than before heating season. Water damage, soot build-up, and damaged vents can lead to many issues including carbon monoxide entering the home. There are some thing you can do yourself though. Grab a flashlight and look up inside the chimney (preferably without a fire going). Is anything blocking the airflow? Is the damper in good condition and operational? When’s the last time you cleaned out the ashes and dirt?
Have your heating system inspected
Many heating companies have service plans you can sign up for that will send someone to your house to inspect your boiler or furnace annually. The last thing you want is for your heating source to go in the dead of winter, and have to wait for a busy heating company to have an opening for you. By having someone come in just before winter you can confirm that all parts are operating as intended, and they usually check for any carbon monoxide leaks. As with the fireplace, though, there are somethings you can do yourself. If you have a forced air system you can easily replace the filter by following the manufacturer's instructions and using the recommended filter. A new filter not only improves air quality in the house but it also increases the efficiency of your system. Most heating companies will recommend changing filters bi-monthly during the winter. Another DIY maintenance item is removing the cover and making sure there is no excessive dirt inside. You can take this opportunity to check for rust or erosion also, just make sure you turn the unit off first!
Seal windows and doors
If you have gaps on your windows and/or doors you should seal them with some exterior caulking. These gaps allow the elements to get in and can affect the efficiency of your heating system, or worse cause water damage inside the framing. A simple silicon caulk works best and is something you can easily do yourself with a little practice.