November brings cooler weather and fills yards with fallen leaves. Along with this comes the start of the holiday season. People will soon be busy shopping for gifts, planning (socially-distant) gatherings, and decorating their homes. While the anticipation of the holidays is exciting, it is vital not to forget about home maintenance. Responsible homeowners know that there are lots of seasonal duties you must take care of each year so that your home remains in top condition.
Fall presents the perfect time for this, as the impending cold weather brings several risks for homes if not properly maintained. Don’t be overwhelmed – most items can be handled relatively quickly and without in-depth knowledge. However, there may be a few for which it is best to call a professional. To make things easy, we’ve gathered some tips for fall home maintenance and created a checklist that is sure to prepare your home for the winter season.
Preparing Your Home’s Exterior for Colder Weather
The exterior of your home continuously exposes itself to harsh weather throughout the winter months. Heating, air-conditioning, and plumbing systems all have external elements and are therefore at risk in the cold. The following list includes steps to take to keep these systems protected.
- Clean The Gutters: Fall months often leave behind leaves, sticks, and other debris in your home’s gutters and drainpipes. Check for any accumulation and clear it by brushing it away. You can also use a spray nozzle attached to a hose if anything remains.
- Clear All Outdoor Drains: It may be common sense, but the first step in doing this is simply by being proactive when it comes to raking leaves. Doing so regularly helps to limit the amount of debris that gathers in drains. Scheduling a drain-clearing also helps prevent leaves, mud, and other debris from entering your plumbing system and wreaking havoc.
- Sprinkler System: Irrigation systems often get overlooked once summer ends. But, proper winterization of them can keep them functioning for many years. To do so, shut the backflow valve(s) on the unit and open the manual drain valve. This releases most water left in the system to flow out. From there, you can blow out the remaining water using an air compressor to ensure no water is left to freeze over winter and cause potential damages to the system.
- Shut Down and Inspect AC Units: Once you’ve turned off the AC for the year, go ahead and shut off the outdoor switch as well. This prevents the system from switching on throughout the winter. The next step is to clean around each unit (and vent) and inspect them for any damage that needs addressing. Lastly, an AC Unit cover is a great idea to protect outdoor units from winter precipitation.
- Schedule a Chimney Cleaning: If you plan to use your fireplace this winter, a chimney cleaning is essential. Homeowners can choose to attempt this themselves, but a professional can often identify any areas of deterioration or other issues that may affect ventilation and cause safety concerns.
- Clear the Area Surrounding the Heat Pump: While some frost is bound to occur during the coldest months, it is crucial to prevent accumulation. One way to do so is by maintaining airflow and keeping the area around the heat pump (approximately a 3- feet radius) free from vegetation and debris.
Interior Preparation for Colder Weather
While winter weather generally affects the exterior of your home first, it is important not to neglect internal preventative maintenance as well.
- Change the Alarm Batteries: Both smoke alarms and carbon monoxide alarms should be tested regularly for functionality. Also, the FTPA recommends changing the batteries in these alarms every six months (entire alarms should also be swapped out every 10 years).
- Replace your Filters: Air filters should be replaced quarterly, and fall is the perfect time to do so before the cold weather. Regular filter replacements mean your heating and AC systems don’t have to work as hard. This in turn prolongs the life of them while also reducing your energy costs.
- Clean your Registers: It is important to keep registers clean throughout the cold months. Try to avoid blocking them with any furniture as this prevents heat from distributing throughout the home and causes the heating system to have to work overtime.
- Maintain Your Humidifier: A few simple steps keep your humidifier functioning at its best and prevent the air in your home from getting too dry over the winter. Replacing the filter and changing out the water panel are both important preventative actions to take in the fall.
- Turn on Each Heater/Furnace: Rather than waiting for cold weather to turn on the heat, do so now to check functionality. Often, any existing problems will make themselves known right away. This will save you from discovering these issues in much colder temperatures.
- Check Pipe Insulation: Gaps will occur in walls over time, causing cold air to encroach on your plumbing system. It is vital to seal these gaps as you notice them. Ensuring all gaps are sealed and adequate installation is in place helps prevent frozen pipes and expensive repairs down the road.
- Change the Direction of Ceiling Fans: Set the direction of your ceiling fan blades to clockwise for the winter. This allows for the redistribution of warm air and in turn, makes the room warmer without needing to immediately raise the heat.
Professional Plumbing and HVAC Maintenance from Flotechs
Most of what we’ve included are items that homeowners can handle themselves. However, to keep these systems in premium working order, it is important to schedule annual preventative maintenance from a professional before each winter.
Flotechs Plumbing and Heating offers a variety of maintenance services depending on your need. Each maintenance service begins with a thorough inspection, where our professionals will look for signs of damage or other safety concerns. We then provide you with a detailed report of the findings as well as custom solutions to any trouble areas. The goal of preventative maintenance is to catch issues before they become serious, thus protecting your home and family this winter and for years to come.
Flotechs Plumbing and Heating is proud to serve those in Westchester County for all their plumbing and HVAC needs. Contact us today to schedule your heating maintenance service and head into the holidays with peace of mind and a safe home.