When summer is drawing to a close, it’s a great time to tackle some home maintenance.
By staying on top of upkeep you can avoid costly repairs. Follow this task list for your most important items to tend to before cold weather arrives.
Maintenance To-Do List
Heating system: Replace air filters
Replacing the air filters in your heating system keeps your furnace running efficiently. It also keeps the air in your home cleaner by removing pollutants and allergens. Consumer Reports recommends replacing air filters every few months. Here is how:
- Determine what kind of filter you have and how it inserts into your furnace. Remove and examine the filter. Find the arrow on the filter. The arrow shows the direction of airflow within the unit. Using a permanent marker note the direction of the arrow on the exterior of your furnace.
- Purchase a replacement filter. Be sure you get the exact same size as the air filter you removed. You can buy filters at hardware stores and at home improvement centers.
- Install the new filter. Make sure you match the arrow on the filter with the arrow you drew on your furnace.
Hot tip: If your air filter has a plastic frame, it’s reusable. Vacuum it and clean it with water, then allow it to dry and then reinstall it.
Water pipes: Prevent freezing
Frozen pipes can lead to costly damage in your home. Take these measures of prevention recommended by experts:
Insulate – Exposed faucets and pipes can benefit from added insulation. This would include water lines in unheated areas such as attics, basements, and garages. Insulation options include materials such as newspapers or rags. Cover the insulating material with plastic and secure it with string or wire.
Outside spigots – Disconnect garden hoses and drain them. Drain and shut off your spigots as well, then attach a winter cover to protect them from dropping temps.
Trickle water – Allow interior faucets to drip when the temperature plummets to help prevent frozen water lines. Make sure the stream is small but steady, about the size of a pencil lead.
Cold air leaking on a pipe could cause freezing, and some experts recommend inspecting your home and sealing any cracks or holes near pipes. It’s also important to leave faucets running overnight when the temperatures get low. But if you’re worried about higher water bills, consider adding insulation around your pipes.
Safety: Check smoke and carbon monoxide detectors
Staying on top of the maintenance of your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors in your home can save your life.
Smoke detectors: Some studies show that fires kill 3,000 people in the U.S. every year. Forty percent of those deaths occur in homes with no working smoke alarms. Properly maintaining smoke detectors is easy to do and can prevent tragedy.
Some experts advise following these simple steps to keep your smoke detectors working properly:
- Test the alarm once every month by pressing the “test” button until you hear the beep.
- Change the batteries once every year.
- Replace the units every 10 years.
- Clean smoke detectors once every three months. Use the hose soft brush attachment of your vacuum cleaner.
Carbon monoxide detectors: Carbon monoxide is often referred to as the invisible killer because it’s odorless, colorless and poisonous. Keeping your detectors in good working order can save your life. According to the National Fire Protection Association, you should follow these steps to maintain your carbon monoxide detector:
- Test the detectors once per month.
- Check the batteries if the alarm sounds. If the batteries are low, replace them.
- If the alarm continues to sound, move to a location with fresh air and call the fire department.
- Replace carbon monoxide detectors in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions.
Your task list is prepared!
It doesn’t take much to prepare your home for cooler weather and to avoid costly repairs. Replace air filters in your heating system, prevent your home’s pipes from freezing, and check your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors to keep everyone in your home safe. Grab your toolbox now and follow these home maintenance steps before cooler weather hits.