Summer turning into fall means kids going back to school, family schedules becoming more hectic, and family budgets preparing for increased energy bills. One other thing ushered in by fall is the increasing need to complete home maintenance tasks to avoid costly repairs. A little bit of time and money spent during fall saves families a ton of time and money later when necessary systems fail because they were not maintained properly. We share the best ways for you to approach end-of-summer home maintenance to avoid costly repairs below.
1. Prevent Frozen Pipes
As the weather turns cooler, families that do not take steps to prevent frozen pipes are at risk of losing hot water and experiencing water damage. Be proactive and prevent expensive damage and potential flooding by keeping your basement at least 55 degrees Fahrenheit during cold snaps.
It’s also important to keep unused portions of your home at that temperature, at least, to prevent frozen pipes. During a cold snap, keep your interior doors and cabinet doors open so heat from the house can circulate and keep the pipes warm.
If you think a pipe will freeze, allow the faucet to drip to prevent pressure from building and bursting it. You also should inspect the areas around your pipes and apply caulk to holes and cracks near them on both interior and exterior walls. Consider applying electrical heating tape to pipes, but be sure to carefully follow the instructions to keep your home and family safe. Another option is insulating pipes to prevent them from freezing. Fit exposed pipes with foam rubber or fiberglass sleeves, and add insulation to walls and ceilings as needed to keep your pipes warm.
2. Replace Furnace Air Filters Before Winter
Home energy costs become costly, but you can keep costs down by replacing your furnace air filter before winter to help the system run more efficiently. Clogged or damaged air filters force your heating system to run much harder, which can cause it to break down; in fact, replacing air filters is one of the best ways to prolong the life of your home’s HVAC system. Smart homeowners replace furnace air filters in fall because the demand is not high enough for them to drive prices upwards.
3. Check Your Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Detectors
As people turn on their heat and keep their windows closed in winter, they put their families at greater risk of house fires and carbon monoxide poisoning. Because heat is necessary during winter, you need to keep your family safe from the potential hazards of heating your home by checking your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors before the first deep freeze sets in.
One smart way to keep on top of your detectors is to change the batteries when daylight savings time ends. When you make your clock fall back, install fresh batteries and test your detectors to ensure they are in working order. A few dollars for batteries and a few minutes of testing will give you peace of mind and help your alarms keep your family safe.
4. Repair Concrete
If you have noticed that you have sunken or uneven concrete in your driveway, sidewalk, patio, steps, or other areas around your home, you should contact a professional to correct the issue no later than autumn. You also should repair cracks of all sizes before winter approaches. Repairing concrete issues before winter is important because water works its way into the cracks, freezes, expands, and causes more damage to your concrete.
You can attempt to repair hairline cracks your concrete sidewalks and driveways yourself this fall. Begin by removing debris from the area by spraying water into it and using a stiff broom or brush. Then, apply a concrete mix to the damaged area or plugging the rack with a premixed filler.
If you use a premixed filler in a tube with a caulking gun, overfill the crack and scrape away excess. If you are uncomfortable repairing your concrete yourself, or if the cracks are in your foundation, you should contact a local professional to do the repairs for you before more damage occurs as the weather becomes cold.
Being proactive with home maintenance this fall is the best way to avoid costly repairs. You should take steps to prevent frozen pipes, replace furnace air filters before winter, check your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors, and repair concrete around your home.
Image via Flickr by Centre for Alternative Technology