October means it’s about to get cold and brings with it lots of homeowner tasks. Among other things, remember to:
- Check the roof for loose, cracked or missing shingles.
- Trim tree limbs away from the roof and windows.
- Check weather stripping and caulking around doors and windows and repair or replace as necessary.
- Store paints, caulks and liquid materials in warmer areas or remove from unheated areas and sheds.
- Detach and store hoses.
- Clean gutters after most of the leaves have fallen and make sure downspouts and gutter extensions are in good repair.
- Set thermostats and automatic sprinklers for winter.
- Reverse fan blades for winter settings.
- Ensure that gauges on home fire extinguishers indicate a full charge. Replace if necessary.
If you don’t own the right tools for tackling a remodeling or maintenance project, you have the option of renting them or buying them outright. The decision is usually based on how often the tool will be used and its cost. If you need something like a drill, it makes more sense to buy one because it is a good basic tool that will be used over and over. If the project is a one-time occurrence, such as installing large porcelain tiles, you may want to rent a large tile saw instead of buying one. Here are some other projects for when rental tools can help make the job a success. Continue reading
Here are some great suggestions for September home maintenance tasks!
- Clean and vacuum dust from vents, baseboard heaters and cold-air returns.
- Check the heating system (include filters, pilot lights and burners) and have it serviced by a qualified professional.
- Inspect storm windows for deterioration and repair as necessary.
- While it’s still warm enough to leave the windows open, it’s a good time to paint indoor rooms and shampoo or replace carpets.
- If you have window air-conditioning units, remove and store them. If they are not removable, cover them to protect them over the winter.
- Check to make sure that soil around the foundation slopes four to six inches for a distance of three feet out from the foundation.
- There are often year-end close-out sales on lawn and garden equipment in the fall. Look for a few bargains.
If your roof isn’t too steeply pitched and has material that won’t be damaged by walking on it, AND you are mentally and physically fit to do so, carefully inspect it in good weather. Look for broken or missing shingles, missing or damaged flashing and seals around vent pipes and chimneys and damage to boards along the eaves. Shingle damage up-slope will often cause water damage far downhill. Check the chimney cap and screen and look down the flues for obstructions or animal nests. If you can’t or don’t want to get on the roof, you might want to use a ladder around the perimeter. Pay close attention to valleys and flashings; these are the primary leak-generators. Some simple, easy fixes now can prevent thousands of dollars of water damage later.
Selecting a new heating system can be complex. However, if you do your homework and talk to licensed heating/cooling professionals, a new system can make your home more comfortable and reduce energy costs.
- Usually it is more energy- and cost-efficient to replace systems older than about 15 years.
- The system you choose will depend on local climate, home size, amount of insulation, and the heating/cooling usage patterns.
- Look for an ENERGY STAR® label.
- Furnaces are rated by annual fuel-utilization efficiency (AFUE). High-efficiency units are rated above 90 percent.
- If choosing an air-source heat pump, look for one with a SEER of 13 or greater and a heating season performance factor (HSPF) of 7 or more.
The burners on an electric range get dirty with caked-on messes, often after a single use. The best way to keep your burners clean is to clean them after every use. Messes are much easier to remove when they are fresh. Make sure the burners have sufficiently cooled before attempting to clean. Use a kitchen towel to wipe the cool burners clean of any spills after use. Rubbing alcohol will remove caked-on messes and sanitize. For more difficult messes, soak a kitchen towel with rubbing alcohol and set it on top of the stain for an hour or two. This will soften the mess and make it easier to wipe away. For a detailed, soap-and-soda approach to clean the burners, see this Ehow article.
While you are going about your winter preparation tasks this September, you might be in the mood to tackle that big hole in the drywall that you haven’t gotten around to yet. The DIY Network has easy, step-by-step instructions on how to repair seriously damaged drywall that will show you how to: cut out the damaged area, cut out the patch, attach cleats to wall studs, fit the patch into cleats and studs, apply fiberglass tape to the seams and finish the wall surface.
Here’s some great information about Home Maintenance that can go a long way to ensuring a clean home inspection.
ManageMyLife.com has some suggestions for home maintenance:
- Kitchen, bathroom: Check under your sinks for signs of leaks from supply pipes and waste pipes. Also check for rust on the bottom of enameled steel sinks and water damage to the countertop.
- Structure and exterior: Check your home’s exterior wood for paint or wood stain needs.
- Vinyl siding: Assess vinyl siding for cleaning needs. It requires less maintenance than most other sidings, but it still needs occasional cleaning.
- Plumbing: Getting cold showers? The sediment in your water heater might be lowering your water temperature and the amount of available water. Flush sediment from your water heater.
- Electrical: Inspect your outdoor electric wiring. While you’re outdoors during warm weather, take a few moments to inspect your outdoor electric outlets, lighting and wiring.
- For more complete details and step-by-step guides see the article.
Colored granules on your roof coverings are what protect the roof coverings themselves from the elements. This is why it’s important to NOT pressure wash your roof as doing so can lead to granular loss and reduce the roof’s life expectancy. In fact, I’ve seen newer roofs completely destroyed by pressure washing (treatment with zinc granules is the most common way to keep moss off your roof). Pictured here is substantial granular loss and exposed underlying fiberglass underlayment. These roof coverings were in poor condition, clearly due for replacement. This was discovered at a recent home inspection on Orcas Island in the San Juan Islands.
We ask a lot of our bathroom sink drains. We pour toothpaste, soap, shaving cream, makeup and stray hair into them and expect them to work. Unfortunately, sometimes they don’t. A serious clog usually requires a chemical drain cleaner or a plumber’s snake. For a slow-moving drain, you might first try a plunger to dislodge the clog. It’s easy to use; be sure to use it carefully and avoid splashes. Before you begin, put a few inches of water in the sink to provide a good seal around the plunger. Next, stuff a wet rag into the overflow opening of the sink and seal it well. This air block greatly increases the effectiveness of the plunger. Then plunge away! You may have to refill the basin with water a few times to free a very stubborn clog.