It’s not too late to address a few home maintenance musts before winter fully sets in. Here’s a list of last-minute tasks to knock out before you go into hibernation mode.
1. Check and clean the gutters one last time. As the last leaves have fallen, take time now to make sure your gutters are completely cleared out. Blockages can create ice dams, which will damage your gutters and prevent proper drainage of water away from your foundation.
2. Check your furnace. If you have a furnace, replace your filter if you haven’t already, and commit to changing it once a month. A dirty filter will increase your heating costs and reduce the life of your equipment. Home heating systems that aren’t properly maintained may be less than 50 percent efficient. If you can spring for it this year, an inspection done by a licensed professional is always recommended.
3. Maintain your home’s exterior. Trim back trees and branches that are hanging too close to your home. Seal driveways, brick patios, and wood decks. Look for cracks and gaps around doors, windows, and eaves, and seal them.
4. Test smoke/carbon monoxide detectors. This one is easy to overlook, but takes only a couple seconds: hit the “test” button on your smoke/carbon monoxide detector. If the alarm sounds — you’re good to go. If not, replace the batteries and test again. Replace your smoke detector if fresh batteries don’t result in a proper test.
5. Consider an energy audit. An energy audit can show you how and where your home is using energy, so you can make simple updates to increase your home’s efficiency – saving you money. Home energy audits typically range in cost from $200-$400, and many energy companies offer rebates that make them even more affordable (or sometimes free).
Perform your own quick energy audit by following some of these tips from Energy.gov. Taking these steps will not only lower your utility costs, but they will protect your largest investment, your home, from the unexpected weather conditions ahead.