Fall Home Maintenance
Since we’re thoroughly into fall now (though the 70° temps this past week in CT would say otherwise) it’s a good time to prep your house for the upcoming winter (which, of course, could be 70.. or -5. If you’re new to CT, welcome to our weather).
December 25 vs. December 26th, more or less
So what are some not-super-complicated to prep your home for the winter and the potentially cold and snowy months?
1. Prep your furnace
An easy thing you can do is replace your furnace filter to make sure it’s clean and ready to run. You can usually buy these in bulk as they’re good to change out every few months.
They slide out of your furnace – some are horizontal, some are vertical
Also a good idea to replace the air vent return filters as well, as often as the furnace filters. Sometimes they’re on a wall, other times on the ceiling like below:
Make sure your mouth is closed while doing this 🙂
It’s probably a good idea to also have a professional HVAC/furnace company come inspect your system prior to fall/winter use. They can run through the system and make sure everything is running smoothly. Have you used an HVAC company you love? Let me know your recommendations firstname.lastname@example.org ! My house doesn’t have a furnace (we have all electric utilities + baseboards) so I don’t need maintenance on this myself.
Here’s another place you also might want to call a fireplace company or chimney sweep to come take a look and clean things out. Before that, though, you can shine a flashlight up and see if there is any debris, any animals (I hope not but it’s definitely possible), or anything else blocking the chimney. Once you open the flue, debris could fall into your fireplace so be prepared.
You actually likely want to wait until the end of fall to do this since the goal here is to clean out all the leaves, twigs or other junk that’s accumulated. If your gutters are clogged, water from your roof (and therefore snow) won’t be able to get through and down your gutters. If they’re clogged and the water freezes, the gutters could crack and be ineffective.
If you have a ladder and are okay climbing, one way to clean gutters is to climb up, grab a pair of gloves, and pull out all the debris (throw it out though, don’t place it on your lawn). Another way which is much riskier is hopping on your roof with a leaf blower. It’s slightly more effective, 80% more dangerous and 100% sillier looking, so do it at your own risk. They also make attachments for snow blowers that can reach higher to blow out the gutters from the ground. As a default, sometimes easier to hire a gutter company to clean them out for you.
4. Dead Trees/Branches
I had no idea how many problems trees could cause before I bought a house. They look beautiful until a giant branch hits your house (true story!) About 3 months after we bought our house, there was a very strong windstorm (possibly small tornado) in our area and it knocked off a huge branch from our lone, beautiful backyard tree, smashing right into our deck. It sucked, though it was kind of awesome to see. (And thankfully it JUST missed hitting our house – just broke one panel of the deck, as you can see below).
Honey, can you let the tree in? I think it wants dinner.
Impressive! Now, I’m not telling you to go around chopping down all your trees so this doesn’t happen (although some days I’m REALLY tempted) but take a look at the trees around your property, see if any branches look like they’re dying/dead, see if any look like they’re bending, tilting, aimed suspiciously at your house. We had a few more large branches fall in the front yard in the last two years, thankfully falling across the yard, rather than into the house. Seriously, the wind has been kind of crazy in CT in the last few years.
5. Light/heating timers
Since it’s now getting dark at 5 pm (or earlier 😦 ), you may want to pick up a few light timers so that your lights turn on automatically before you get home. (Though, I assume many of you are also working at home for now). You can also pick up motion or dark-sensing lights for outdoor safety, too. Especially if you have neighbors like mine who like to make fun of me for leaving my outdoor lights on all day 😉
Good way to welcome guests to your front door
Also, if you have an electric thermostat or a Nest or something fancy, you can create a program so your heat goes down when you go to bed and warms up before you get up in the morning. Great way to keep your heat efficient. (I have electric baseboards and about 11 thermostats so I don’t know what this is like, but it sounds great!)
6. Sealing cracks and holes
Go around the inside and outside of your house around the foundation and windows and keep an eye out for any cracks or holes which you can fill with caulk. Pick up a tube at your local hardware place for just a few bucks. You can also pick up weatherstripping to put around doors if there are gaps (since caulking your door shut is probably not super helpful).
At least caulk yourself in, not out
Prep Prep Prep
It’s always better to take care of the items above BEFORE it gets cold and snowy. When do furnace problems seem to happen? When it’s -2° not when it’s 60. So make sure your furnace is in running order now! Also, if you have oil, make sure you have scheduled oil deliveries and that your supply is ready to go. If you have a wood burning fireplace, pick up some additional wood and if you have a pellet stove, pick up more pellets! (Also if you have a pellet stove, want to teach me how to use it?)
Hopefully these tips help keep you safe and warm for the upcoming months since we’ll probably all be spending a lottttt of time indoors. Stay sane!