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Fall Maintenance Tips For Homeowners

It’s been said that Maine has but two seasons: Winter and Getting Ready For Winter.

Now that the leaves are turning color and the night air is a bit crisper, it’s that time again for homeowners to prep for the oncoming snow and ensure a more satisfying Spring.

Here are some tips to help get your  home ready for winter:

Check windows and doors for air seal leaks

Inspect your windows and doors for cracks and air leaks that could be coming from the window sills and door frames. Pick up a couple tubes of exterior caulking and fill in gaps around pipes and basement windows to create a tighter seal.

Clean out your gutters

Inspect your gutters for leaves, sticks and debris that can clog drainage and cause ice dams. Replace any gutters or downspouts that look worn, warped or damaged. Your downspouts should extend at least five feet away from your home’s foundation to help prevent future problems.

Inspect your roof

You don’t have to get on the roof to inspect it. Be safe and inspect it from the group. Using a ladder and binoculars, you can seek out loose or missing shingles or holes that may appear in the roof. If you see bunches of moss, it could signal of some rot or decay that may need to be reviewed in greater detail.

Have your furnace as well as any heating and air conditioning cleaned

If you haven’t already, schedule an appointment to have your heating and AC components cleaned and maintained. A good tune up for the heating season is an easy way to reduce mishaps come the middle of the Maine winter heating season.

Clean your water heater

Any buildup that occurs in your water heater can reduce its performance and cause maintenance issues over time. Draining the water heater is a good way to clear out any sediment that may have built up and prep it for the heavier use Maine’s winter season brings.

Check your fireplace

If your home uses wood, pellets or gas fireplaces in the winter, a visual inspection is a good idea. Review pipes and connections as well as test the devices out early to ensure you find any issues that may exist before you need it most. Scheduling a chimney cleaning will help prevent against creosote buildup that can cause safety issues during the heating season.

Drain and protect your hose

Be sure to drain your hose completely and disconnect it from the spigot. Storing inside or under cover can also help prevent it from cracking over the winter.

Clean the mower and test out the snow blower

Adding fuel stabilizer to your mower’s tank can help it from degrading and keep your gas ready for spring use when it’s needed again. Now is also the time to bring the snow blower out, change the oil and test the electric start, pull start and any broken pins that may be present. That first storm is not the best time to find out it needs a little work.

HUNKERING DOWN: Do’s and Don’ts for Winter ~ By Bob Hardina

Do’s & Don’t for Winter – For many years we would get together for the last visit of the summer to my grandparent’s home in Wallingford, Vermont. As that final weekend drew to a close we would begin the annual ritual of “Hunkering Down.”  We would close down the second floor of the house, bank the perimeter of the house with hay and plastic and get the last load of wood into the basement.  The storm windows would be hung and the parlor would be closed off for the winter. Doors would be closed and the space under the doors sealed with draft dodgers, those fabric strips filled with sand.  For the winter, grandma and grandpa would occupy their bedroom and bathroom, the dining room and the kitchen.  If we returned for Christmas the second floor of the house would be opened again for kids to sleep, dormitory style under piles of blankets and quilts.  By this time we hope that you have performed your own “hunkering down” ritual. If not, we suggest the following.

Perform a windy day “walk around” to check around baseboards and windows for air leaks.  Seal them up.

Ignore the public service announcement to leave a faucet dripping on cold nights.  Dripping faucets may keep water lines from freezing but you run the risk of freezing the drain line.  To keep water lines from freezing eliminate any drafts that may blow on them.  Keep kitchen cabinet doors open to allow air to circulate.  Don’t put a light bulb under the kitchen sink.  It’s better to take the fan you use during the summer and direct the air flow to the piping under the kitchen sink or bathroom vanity.   If you prefer to burn wood, resist the temptation on the coldest of days.  Wood stoves and fireplaces will prevent your boiler from running leading to potential freeze ups.  On those bone chilling days, let your heating system do what it should and run.

Air leaks where vertical walls meet the floor are common in older houses.  If you finally get tired of winter and opt for a week or two in a warmer climate, turn the heat in your house down slowly, especially if you have a hot water baseboard heating system.  If you pack the car and turn the heat down when you leave, no water will circulate in the baseboard heating units.  The wind will blow and the baseboard piping will develop an ice block.  It only takes a few minutes for the ice to block the flow of water. On a cold windy day, your heat distribution system could be frozen before you get to the end of the turnpike in Kittery.   We’ve seen it happen more than once. There is a lot of excellent information available on the internet.  Search for, “Make your Home Winter Ready.”  You’ll find a wealth of information.

Hunkering down is a great way of experiencing the “Three C’s” of winter: Enhance your comfort, save your cash and avoid a catastrophe.

Winter well friends.