Fall Fix Ups
By: Melanie Foley
Executive Vice President, Liberty Mutual Insurance Company
It’s time for fall maintenance on your home. Tackle any trouble spots outside before winter arrives. Start with outside jobs before it gets too cold and rainy. And some tasks, such as electrical or plumbing problems, are best left to the pros.
- Replace roof shingles if you’re only missing a few of them. You may want to hold off on a new roof until spring, since warm weather helps shingles seal properly. Ask a roofing expert what’s best for your region.
- Be an energy miser and caulk or weather-strip around window frames and door frames.
- Replace rotted wood (including fences) that can attract termites, carpenter ants and other pests.
- Clean gutters and downspouts to avoid overflow and basement flooding. Equip downspouts with extenders, if needed, to help keep water away from the foundation.
- Lubricate garage door hinges, rollers and tracks to avoid stress during frigid temperatures.
- Tune up your snowblower before the first flakes fall.
- Fill driveway and sidewalk cracks to prevent damage from freeze-and-thaw cycles.
- Prevent supply lines from bursting in cold climates by removing hoses from outside faucets, draining the faucets and turning off basement shut-off valves.
- Check the R-value (indicating effectiveness) of your attic insulation, then upgrade as needed. Visit www1.eere.energy.gov/consumer/tips/insulation.html for guidance.
- Test all ground fault circuit interrupter (GFCI) outlets.
- Paint interior walls if it’s still warm enough to open windows to ventilate fumes.
- Remove lint from your clothes dryer vent. According to the U.S. Fire Administration, clothes dryers cause 15,600 structural fires annually, and dirty vents are the leading culprits.
- Test smoke and carbon monoxide detectors and replace batteries twice a year.
- Make sure the fireplace flue damper opens and closes fully. Hire a pro to clean the chimney and inspect the firebox.
- Check for air leaks. Head for your basement on a sunny day, leave the lights off and look for sunlight filtering through foundation cracks.
- Give your emergency generator and sump pump a test run.
- Replace furnace filters regularly for peak heating-system operation.
- Set up a furnace/boiler inspection. Some contractors offer lower rates if you schedule early in the fall.
Liberty Mutual is a responsible company that delivers expert advice and caring service. For more information, please call 888-438-9083 or visit www.libertymutual.com/enews-virginiatech.
Reprinted with permission from Liberty Mutual. ©2012 Liberty Mutual Group. All rights reserved.