It's about that time of year again! Right before the holidays, and right after a busy summer of vacationers experiencing your beautiful short term rental home. It comes with the territory that certain wear and tear and preventative maintenance may be needed to keep your home refreshed, of quality, and ready for the winter wonderland abyss as the year ends. Here is a checklist and tips on keeping your home top tier.
Clean your gutters. Your roof's drainage system annually diverts thousands of gallons of water from your house's exterior and foundation walls, so it's vital to keep this system flowing smoothly. Clogged gutters can lead to damaged exterior surfaces and water in your basement. They are also more prone to rust and corrosion. Before the leaves fly this fall, clean your gutters, then cover them with mesh gutter guards to keep debris from returning.
Seal up air leaks. A home with air leaks around windows and doors is like a coat left unbuttoned. Gaps in caulk and weatherstripping let cold/hot air into your warm home, and sealing up a drafty house can save up to 20% on your heating bills, according to the U.S. Department of Energy.
Weatherstripping is easily the most cost-effective way to rein in heating and cooling costs. This humble material also reduces drafts and keeps your home more comfortable year-round. Because weatherstripping can deteriorate over time, it is important to inspect it periodically. If you suspect a problem with your weatherstripping, try closing a door or window on a strip of paper. If the paper slides easily, your weatherstripping isn't properly sealing the opening. Alternatively, close the door or window and hold a lighted candle near the frame. (Don't let the flame get near anything flammable!) If the flame flickers at any spot along the frame, you have an air leak.
In addition to inspecting weatherstripping, check for missing or damaged caulk around windows, doors, and entry points for electrical, cable, phone, and gas. Seal any gaps with a suitable caulk. If drafts around windows persist, consider getting your windows replaced. Glass with multiple panes, spacers, or filler gasses (such as argon or krypton) will likely solve these problems. A professional can swap out your problem windows with more efficient models that will increase your level of comfort while decreasing your heating bills.
Inspect your roof. Few homeowner problems are more vexing than a leaky roof. Once the dripping starts, finding the source of the problem can be time-consuming. Stop problems this fall before hurricane winds turn them from annoyances into disasters.
Start by inspecting your roof from top to bottom, using binoculars if necessary. Check ridge shingles for cracks and wind damage. Look for damage to metal flashing in valleys and around vents and chimneys. Scan the entire roof for missing, curled, or damaged shingles. Look in your gutters for large accumulations of granules, a sign that your roof is losing its coating, which can portend larger problems. Finally, make sure your gutters are flowing freely.
Repair walkways. Damaged walkways, drives, and steps are a hazard year-round. Fixing issues in the fall is also critical to preventing little cracks from becoming expensive headaches. Look for cracks more than 1/8-inch wide, uneven sections, and loose railings on steps. Check for disintegration of asphalt or washed-out materials on loose-fill paths. Most small jobs are well within the ability of a DIYer, but save major repairs for experienced hands.
Review safety features. At least once a year, do a top-to-bottom review of your home's safety features. This is also a good time to review your fire evacuation plan. Use these steps to complete a home safety check:
Prep your lawn for winter. To ensure your lawn's health and beauty come spring, there are several important yard work projects to complete in the fall. Raking leaves and aerating will prevent your lawn and garden beds from suffocating. Fertilizing and winterizing grass, trees, and shrubs will allow your greenery to enter its winter slumber comfortably and properly nourished. Professional lawn care services will make quick work of these projects.
Touch up exterior paint. Fall offers plenty of days that are cool enough to work with exterior paint, and a touch-up can help prolong the life of your siding and trim. A fresh coat of paint or sealer on any surface, such as porch stairs or wood floors, also is a wise idea. Sooner is better to contact a local painter or attempt the project yourself, as many paints aren't recommended for application on days when the temperatures are too hot, and even too cold.
Fall HVAC Maintenance. Chances are your cooling unit has worked hard through the summer, while your heating unit has been sitting dormant since last winter. Before you need your heat this winter, schedule professional HVAC maintenance to help protect your unit for the extra work this winter. Scheduling HVAC maintenance now can help improve heating and cooling outputs, which reduces your electric bill and saves on electricity. That’s good for the environment and for your pocket!
Some other tips include replacing your outside bulbs with LEDs to save on electricity, reversing your ceiling fans when it gets cold, checking your dryer vents, checking your hurricane windows and doors, and maintaining your disaster supply kit.
Stay tuned next month for more tips.
SOURCES: CIANNI CONSTRUCTION | BETTER HOMES AND GARDENS COPYRIGHT 2022
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