It’s hard to believe that we’re deep into autumn with the holidays soon upon us! It seems just last week I was watching bulbs push up through the ground, and the trees were beginning to leaf and so hopeful for warm weather.
But one look at the calendar (and with Halloween behind us) confirms that It’s about time to button up the home and batten down the hatches, so to speak.
For homeowners, fall is a particularly important time of year. Preparing your home for the ravages of our wet winter weather is something best tackled now – not in the middle of a weather crisis.
Follow the suggestions below, and your home should be in great shape for the coming winter.
- Fine-tune your furnace.
Your HVAC system should be cleaned and inspected every year. Fall is the perfect time for this! Tackle this now, and you’re far less likely to be in a long waiting list for repairs on the coldest day of the year.
- Review your roof.
Cracked or missing shingles can spell disaster for your roof – as can a build-up of moss or other debris. Having your roof cleaned annually is important, and a good roof cleaner can also add shingles as needed. While they’re on the roof, have them also check the flashing around your chimney.
- De-gunk your gutters.
Keeping your gutters clean could save you thousands of dollars. Without proper drainage, your gutters can back up … and if the water can’t drain through the gutters it can easily back flow into/against your home. Damage to your roof, siding, and trim can be substantial. And while cleaning gutters, don’t forget the downspouts! They also need to be clear, so they can move water away from your home.
- Prime your pump.
Many homes in the northwest have sump pumps due to our high water table. When is the last time you tested yours? Doing so before our typically wet winters is a smart move. A well-maintained sump pump should last you ten years. If you’re not having it tested and maintained you may get much less use from it.
- Clear the chimney.
There’s nothing like the romance of a wood-burning fire … and nothing worse than the damage from billowing smoke caused by a backed-up chimney (not to mention that carbon monoxide is poisonous). Chimney cleaning is a job best left to a professional.
- Put the pool to bed.
Are you one of the rare northwest homeowners who has a pool? Now is the time to drain and winterize your pool.
- Drain irrigation systems.
Even with our mild northwest winters, it’s best to drain your irrigation systems to avoid potential damage. This is a job best handled by professionals.
- Beef up caulking and weatherstripping.
Even small openings can let in the ugly winter weather. And often we’re not even aware of the fact that the house is leaking the cold in, and the warm out. Ensuring you have good seals around windows and doors will help. And adding fresh weather stripping every few years is a simple task.
- Winter-proof exterior faucets.
Undrained water in your pipes can freeze – and then burst later as the ice melts and expands. Unless you have frost-proof faucets (and if you home is more than ten years old you likely do not), you should take steps to eliminate this hazard. Disconnect all your garden hoses and drain any water that remains in faucets. An added safety step is to place insulated covers like these over your outdoor faucets.
- Reverse ceiling fans.
If you’ve had your ceiling fans set to blow cooling air on you in the warmer months, now is the time to make a change. Run the fan’s blades counterclockwise once you have turned on your heat for the year. This creates an updraft and will push down heated air that collects near the ceiling, helping to keep your room warmer. You may find you can save a few pennies by lowering your thermostat by a degree or two.
- Tool storage.
Even with our typically mild northwest winters you’re not likely to be using your gardening equipment much for the next couple of months. Storing it properly will help extend its life. When it comes to your mower, check your owner’s manual for details on how to over-winter this item. Small tools should be cleaned before storing for the winter, and blades should be sharpened so they are ready for spring. And ideally, small tools should have their blades stored in a bucket that’s filled with sand moistened with oil to prevent rusting.
- Restock essentials.
Every time we have an unexpected weather event, there’s a run on items at the hardware stores. Why not plan ahead this year? Do you have salt to de-ice walkways and driveways? A generator? A sturdy snow shovel or a snowblower? Extra candles or lanterns in the event of a power outage? Not only can these items be in demand when most needed, if the weather’s really awful you may not be able to get to the store to purchase them and/or they may not be deliverable to you. Plan now for your worst-case scenario.
As always, we’d love to hear your suggestions and comments. And if you need recommendations for service providers, please ask! We only work with the best and are happy to make suggestions based on your needs.