It's hard to believe fall is already here. That means it's time to make an inspection of your house for any hidden defects that might morph into major problems.
An ounce of prevention early on can stave off major repair bills later. Here's our list of must-do inspection items before the temperature drops and the rain falls.
1. Check the roof. Clean out the gutters and take note of any missing shingles. Pay special attention to split wood shingles or bare patches on asphalt shingles. Such damage indicates the roof is on its last legs and is due for replacement. Make sure everything is sealed and tight around the chimney and vents. If you have a problem with algae and fungus on wood shakes and asphalt shingles, control it by installing zinc control strips.
2. Poke your head in the attic. Be on the lookout for water stains or mold. Water stains may indicate a leaky roof or inadequate ventilation. Mold is caused by condensation resulting from inadequate air flow. Make sure soffit vents are unobstructed by insulation to ensure proper ventilation in the attic.
3. Keep things tight. Inspect caulking and weatherstripping around doors and windows. Re-caulk and weather strip as needed.
4. Fireplace fitness: The National Fire Protection Agency recommends that you have your fireplace and chimney inspected every year although we believe light users can get by with every two years. At the very least, make sure your chimney is capped, and check for bird's nests or other obstructions.
5. Check the grade at the foundation. There should be at least six inches from the ground to the bottom of the siding, and the ground should slope away from the foundation. Cut back any shrubs away from the side of the house to prevent moisture retention, the cause of mold or dry rot. Make sure all downspouts direct water at least 10 feet from the foundation.
6. Be safe. Test all smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors.
7. Laundry room. A dysfunctional washer and dryer can lead to water damage, energy waste and a possible fire. Exchange rubber supply hoses for stainless steel to prevent bursting. Empty the lint trap in the dryer regularly (a good practice any time of year). Disconnect the dryer vent line and look at the vent pipe outlet to make sure there are no obstructions.
8. Electrical system. Electric systems in your home can cause a major fire disaster and possible electrocution. In order to prevent electrical fires, make sure light bulbs are completely screwed in and flip the circuit breaker at least once a year to prevent corrosion. Also test all GFCI receptacles (plugs that have a built-in circuit breaker) to make sure they are operating properly.
9. HVAC (heating, ventilating and air conditioning). Have the system inspected by a professional annually to maintain the warranty on the system. If you don't keep up regular maintenance with your heating and cooling system, mold can grow in your house, it can cause a fire, and the performance will be inefficient leading to higher energy costs. Replace filters once at least every six months. Drain the water heater annually.
Here's wishing you a cozy, safe fall and winter.
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