November is an excellent time to prepare your home for the winter season – before the rainy and cold weather set upon us. Not only will you stay more comfortable and save on energy costs in the upcoming months, but you’ll also safeguard your property from potential damage by keeping it well maintained. Take the following steps now to keep your home safe and its systems running smoothly throughout the winter months:
Unclog your gutters or get them professionally cleaned: Prevent water-related damage and infestations by clearing your gutters and downspouts of debris (e.g. leaves, twigs and shingle grit). If they’re difficult to access on your own, you can seek out a professional to clean them for around $125 to upwards of $350. Your gutter system plays a critical role in protecting your roof, walls, foundation and landscape by directing the flow of water away from your home. Clogged gutters can block this flow, causing a buildup of water and ice that can lead to a leaking roof and water damage. What’s more, they create a hospitable environment for mold, beehives and other unwelcome critters, including rodents. To get a price estimate for your home, visit http://bit.ly/GutterandDownspoutClearningCosts.
Prepare your chimney: As a 2016 report from the National Fire Protection Association indicates, a leading factor contributing to home fires is the failure to clean heating equipment like chimneys. Before you use your fireplace this season, get it inspected and cleaned by a CSIA Certified Chimney Sweep. This will increase its heating efficiency, but more importantly, prevent soot fires and carbon monoxide poisoning. Because chimney cleaning services often get busy as temperatures dip, it’s a good idea to contact them now to set an appointment. Find information on costs at http://bit.ly/AngiesListChimneySweepCosts.
Reduce drafts by sealing air leaks: According to the Department of Energy, heating is the largest energy expense for most homes in the U.S. In fact, heating and cooling account for about 48 percent of typical home energy usage. One of the quickest and most effective ways to save money in this area is to caulk or weather strip openings to the outdoors. As the weather starts to cool down in November, it will be easier to detect leaks around areas such as doors and window frames, baseboards, lighting, plumbing fixtures and more. For help in finding and fixing energy leaks in your home, visit http://bit.ly/DOEAirSealingYourHome. You may also want to consider having a qualified home energy auditor do a room-by-room examination and blower test to assess your home’s energy use.
Maintain your furnace: It’s a good idea to check your furnace and have a professional tune up every year before using it to heat your home. Like chimney sweep services, HVAC technicians often book up quickly during the winter, so it’s best to reach out to them early. When you first turn the furnace on, it’s normal to notice a short-lived, strong odor. But if it continues, be sure to turn it off until a technician has examined it. You should also check your air filter and clean or replace it if it appears dirty. This will improve your home’s air quality and allow your heating system to work more efficiently to save energy and money.
Examine your trees: Now is the time to inspect your landscape for any trees that could present a danger in a winter storm. Trim any limbs or weak branches away from your home and make sure that leaning trees are well supported and aren’t likely to fall when the ground becomes saturated. To protect your roof and siding, clear away any contact between them and your trees.
Consider energy-efficient windows: By replacing older, single-pane windows with dual-pane glass, you’ll get a more effective buffer against seasonal temperatures as well as noise. Tempered glass can also provide added protection in case of a disaster because it is heat-treated to minimize injuries when shattered. To learn more about the benefits of replacing your windows, visit http://bit.ly/WhyReplaceYourWindows.
Test Your Alarms: Fires remain a major hazard in winter months, when heating systems are highly utilized. In general, you should check your smoke alarms every month by pressing and holding the test button. If you don’t hear a loud sound after a few seconds, try replacing your batteries. For more help, visit http://bit.ly/HowtoTestaSmokeDetector.
Have a home in need of upgrades or routine maintenance to get it winter-ready but not sure where you’ll find the funds? SF Police Credit Union can help with a Home Equity Line of Credit! Find details and apply at http://bit.ly/HomeEquityLineofCreditSFPCU.