Each year, after homeowners cover their pools and shut off their sprinkler systems, there’s a window of time during the fall when the weather is pleasant enough to get a head start on home maintenance. Winter’s harsh temperatures involve additional heating costs, and can bring the risk of damages that require costly repairs. This can all ramp up stress levels during the holidays.
But taking some preventative actions now can pay dividends later when it comes to reducing the risk of issues that can become expensive insurance claims if left unchecked. Here is a brief list of quick and affordable maintenance must-dos homeowners can tackle indoors and out this autumn.
Rake and re-use leaves
The kids might really enjoy jumping in piles of leaves, but if those piles stay in the same spot through fall and winter, they can do noticeable damage to an otherwise attractive lawn. Without sunlight filtering through, grass is more likely to die and leave unsightly brown spots. When leaves get wet and lie stagnant, they can attract insects and develop an icky snow mold that will kill patches of grass beneath them.
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Instead of stuffing excess leaves in plastic bags to be dumped in a landfill, homeowners can protect their lawns and help the environment by using leaves to insulate perennials and create mulch, since fall is an ideal time to fertilize the lawn.
Check out these other clever ways to re-use leaves:
• Compost them
• Burn them
• Mulch leaves into the lawn
Clean gunk from gutters
Oh, the peaceful feeling of watching colorful autumn leaves fall off trees and be carried by the wind!
Unfortunately, these tranquil moments often end with leaves catching in gutters. Left unattended, they can build up with standing water, creating clogged gutters and a pretty unpleasant smell. When winter arrives, these clogged gutters can cause water to freeze and back up, causing structural damage to roofs, not to mention water that can form dangerous-looking icicles. Here’s how to properly maintain gutters:
• Clean leaves and sticks
• Check for damaged joints and segments
• Extend downspouts to avoid buildup
• Install mesh leaf guards
• Make sure downspouts drain away from the house to avoid water in the foundation
Ready the roof
If ice and snow gather on a roof that has improper gutters or is riddled with leaks, it’s only a matter of time before the shingles fall off and the roof buckles under the extra weight. A collapsed roof can force a homeowner to incur unanticipated costs and file an insurance claim for repairs in the middle of winter. Follow these steps to prepare your roof for a harsh winter:
• Inspect it for leaks and other structural problems
• Check skylights and chimneys for leaks and cracks
• Repair cracks
• Waterproof shingles
Insulate the interior
Decreasing temperatures can often create sudden chills in the home’s interior if it is a drafty older house or isn’t properly insulated ahead of time. Depending on the type of system that heats the property, there are a few steps that can help keep bedrooms and kitchens warm until spring arrives.
First, homeowners should check places that cold air can get in and seal them in some manner. This helps keep mice and other small creatures looking for a warm place to nest, as well as cold weather out of the house.
Next, it’s crucial to make sure heating systems are performing properly and aren’t posing any safety concerns. This list is a handy reference for keeping a home’s interior toasty this winter:
• Caulk windows and doors
• Replace furnace filters
• Clean and inspect chimneys
• Check carbon monoxide detectors
• Clean humidifiers
Winter-proof the garage
There’s one important item not to overlook on the fall maintenance checklist — the garage. It’s here that frigid air can creep in beneath a garage door, or through barely noticeable structural holes to cause slow damage to expensive tools and vehicles. Planning for these problems will help prevent avoidable insurance claims. If the garage is a popular place to watch sports or have a couple beers in the winter, it may be beneficial to invest in a heating system. A few quick, small jobs can keep a garage problem-free all winter:
• Weather seal the door
• Remove insects and leaves
• Put in vents to let out extra moisture
These easy-to-follow home maintenance tips involve minimal time and cost, but can prevent insurance claims and costly repair services in the future. Take a few minutes each week to focus on outdoor maintenance, and then address outdoor heating and cooling. Homeowners can rest easy when frosty weather hits as they kick up their feet and sip cocoa in a home that’s safe and warm.
Compliments of PropertyCasualty360