Fall is a good time to prepare your home for the winter season. Here are a few things to check and think about with your home.
HVAC Maintenance: Contact a heating & cooling contractor to inspect your furnace. A dirty heat exchanger can hurt your furnaces efficiency resulting in higher fuel cost and possible carbon monoxide emissions. Change your furnace filters monthly to run more efficiently and increase air quality. Newer homes with indoor air ventilation systems should be checking their unit’s filters every six months.
Exterior Openings: Inspect doors and windows and if necessary, re-caulk and install new weather stripping.
Roof Maintenance: Check the roof for loose or missing slates and shingles. Inspect the chimney for loose bricks and failing mortar joints. Clean debris from gutters. Snow will enter these areas and with the freeze/thaw cycles can cause expensive water damage to the home.
Attics: Check your attic for insulation and ventilation. An attic should have at least an R-38 insulating value. Ventilation requirements vary with the type of soffits and attic design. Ventilation is important to the life span of your roof and makes your home more comfortable and energy efficient. Ventilation prevents heat & moisture build up and uneven roof temperatures with can cause ice dams which prevent water from properly draining off your roof.
Shut off and drain all exterior water valves: that are not designed against freezing temperatures. Frozen water pipes bursting in a wall can be an expensive fix even if detected early!
Clothes Dryer Fire Safety: Over 2,900 home clothes dryer fires are reported each year in the U.S. Failure to clean the dryer is the leading cause. More home clothes dryer fires occur in the fall and winter. Make sure the termination of the duct to the outside has no screen but a damper that opens and closes freely. This is a common spot for lint buildup as are elbows and bends in the duct run. Disconnect from the dryer and check the vent pipe every three months. Replace coiled wire foil or plastic venting with ridged, non-ribbed metal duct. Don’t forget to clean the back of the dryer where lint can build up. Clean the lent filter after every dryer load. Don’t leave a dryer running if you leave home or when you go to bed!
Smoke Detectors: Most home deaths happen between 10:00 PM and 6:00 AM. Many victims die because of smoke and toxic gases, not the fire itself. Install smoke detectors on every level of your home, including the basement, workshop, and especially bedrooms. Be sure to test batteries at least once a month and never remove batteries from a smoke detector except to replace them. Test your batteries monthly and replace them twice a year.
Carbon Monoxide Detector: Because CO is odorless, colorless, and tasteless, it often goes undetected. Any fuel burning appliance in your home is a potential CO source. Every home is required by state law to have at least one CO detector placed within 10 feet of any bedrooms. Be sure your detector displays the Underwriters Laboratories (UL 2034) label.
Fire Extinguisher: A multipurpose dry chemical Class ABC is the best choice for general home use. Mount the extinguisher on a bracket on the wall near an exit so that anyone using it can easily escape from the room if a fire spreads.
Planning ahead and taking precautions against winter hardships can help you weather the season in comfort and safety.
Source: City of Hastings, MN Website - https://www.hastingsmn.gov/residents/fall-home-maintenance-tips
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