Autumn is a season full of traditions that celebrate the harvest and the coming of winter. The weather is cooler and sometimes even cold. The wind is more noticeable and leaves blow around like colourful confetti. It’s also a time when your home needs one last inspection before the snow (or West Coast rain) arrives.
After the leaves have fallen from the trees, it’s time to clean gutters. Rain gutters collect and remove water from the perimeter of the house by channeling it into storm sewers or into the garden. To do this effectively, they need to be clear of leaves and debris so water can run freely along their lengths to the downspouts.
Clogged gutters can result in curtains of overflowing water which can soak the occupants as they come and go. More important, water that falls at the base of the foundation can infiltrate the foundation in some circumstances. Consider using a gutter filtration system of screens or other guards that deflect leaves and debris. These set-and-forget systems are a boon to homeowners who dislike climbing ladders or would like to save money instead of hiring someone to do it for them.
Weatherstripping and sealants should be applied before the weather gets too cold. The adhesive formulas will cure more thoroughly at moderate temperatures. Gaps in caulking and missing or worn weatherstripping can let cold air in and warm air out. It’s one of the most cost-effective things you can do to save money and energy. Check government websites for grants or links to incentives to help winterize your home.
Inspect the roof for damaged or missing shingles. If you’re not sure what to look for, call in a professional roofer or home inspector. They’ll inspect the shingles and flashing for wind damage and wear. A good inspector will have a look in the attic as well for signs of leaks and other water infiltration. If the consensus is to replace the roof in the spring, get some quotes and make an appointment so you’re first in line.
If you didn’t do a furnace checkup in the spring, it should be done before heating season. Items like uneven burners or a noisy fan motor are early warning signs. This is a job for a professional. They will inspect and tune the furnace to ensure it’s running at its highest possible efficiency. If you have concerns about cold rooms or other heating issues, mention it. The fix might be as simple as an inline booster fan or an additional duct. Consider installing an aftermarket furnace humidifier if you don’t already have one. These can actually save money because moist air feels warmer than dry air.
Have your wood-burning appliance checked for safety and compliance. It should be cleaned regularly to avoid soot build-up which can cause a fire. Even if you don’t heat with wood, buy enough split hardwood to last several weeks in case there is a power outage. A cord of wood is a cheap insurance against frozen pipes.
Have your carpets cleaned by a professional. The method endorsed, and sometimes required, by carpet manufacturers is the hot water extraction method or steam cleaning. It involves pre-treating the carpet with a mild detergent solution, using a power agitator to loosen soil, a rinse with very hot water. The advantage of this system is that no soap or sticky residue is left in the carpet to attract dirt. It’s very similar to laundering clothes. The result is a fresh-smelling carpet that will stay cleaner, longer.
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