With the start of school, football season and cooler weather, fall is quickly approaching Pennsylvania. However, before it gets too cold outside it is important to start preparing your home by doing some preventative maintenance around the house. Getting your home ready for fall not only keeps it in good shape but it also reduces the risk of having a home insurance claim later down the road.
Roof, Gutters and Downspouts
– Scan your roof with binoculars. Look for damaged, loose or missing shingles that may leak from melting snow or ice dams.
– Check flashing seals around vent stacks and chimneys for cracks and repairs.
– Clean gutters and downspouts frequently throughout fall to prevent build-up of leaves, pine needles and other debris. Neglected gutters can lead to wood rot problems, pest infestations and ruined gutters.
– Be sure that all gutter support brackets are securely in place to reduce the risk of gutters collapsing due to the weight of ice and snow.
– Ensure that water drains properly and add extension to downspouts so water runs at least 3 to 4 feet from the home. Pooling water can cause damage to foundations, driveways, and walkways.
– Check basement walls and floor for dampness. Be sure to clean you dehumidifier regularly, if you have one.
Windows, Doors and Siding
– Change summer screens to cool weather storm windows and doors.
– Inspect and repair any loose or damaged window or door frames.
– Check window and door caulking for loose or missing compound. Repairing caulking around windows and doors can prevent drafts, which can lower heating bills and prevent water damage.
– Look for cracks and holes in house siding and repair with caulking.
– Replace the filter in your furnace and consider having a heating professional check your heating system to ensure optimal performance and to discover any minor problems before they turn into costly major repairs.
– Clean your ducts to better your heating system’s efficiency as well as to reduce household dust and to provide relief to those with respiratory problems.
– To prevent pipes freezing and bursting, ensure that the pipes are well insulated.
– Know how to locate and turn off the water shut-off valve in case pipes do freeze.
– Check for cracked or missing caulk around the base of your toilet, bath tub, and bathroom cabinets. Properly sealing gaps between your bathroom fixtures and flooring material can prevent damage.
– Drain hot water heater. Remove sediment from the bottom of the tank
Chimney and Fireplace
– Call a professional in to inspect and clean your chimney. Fireplaces that are regularly used during the season should have an annual cleaning. Soot and creosote, which build up inside the chimney, can ignite when a fire is lit in the fireplace.
– Test your fireplace flue for a tight seal when closed.
– Remove bird nests from chimney flues and outdoor electrical fixtures. Bird nests on top of light fixtures are a fire hazard. Bird nests in chimney flues can prevent a proper venting of combustion gases and can catch fire from sparks.
– Inspect and clean dust from the covers of your smoke and carbon monoxide alarms
– Be sure attic insulation doesn’t cover vents in the eaves in order to prevent winter ice dams on the roof.
– Be sure ridge vents and vents at eaves are free of plants and debris.
– Check bird and rodent screens in your attic vents to prevent any unwanted guests.
Landscape and Yardwork
– Clear the area of debris at least 1 foot away from exterior walls, and rake gunk out of corners and away from the foundation. Better ventilation can help dry out surfaces to help prevent decay and damage.
– Cut back tree limbs growing within about 5 feet of the house and roof. Also trim trees that are dangerously close to power lines. Heavy snow and ice can cause damage in the winter.