Autumn is the time to start breaking out the sweaters, warm soups, and hot drinks. For homeowners, it’s also prime time for fall maintenance and to get your home winter-ready. Fall can bring a lot of rain and wind to Georgia and a lot of ice and snow to the Atlanta area. So, start preparing your home for the cold weather with these fall tips.
The gutters & downspouts
Before these important fixtures get clogged with leaves, debris, and possibly become iced over, make sure to:
- Clean out your gutters – Seriously. Gutter systems are meant to displace water away from your home to prevent rot and mold. Rot can not only start to eat away at your roof and sealants, but it can open the door to pests who are looking for warmth in the winter. So, keep your gutter clear and avoid paying for a new roof (home insurance usually doesn’t cover issues due to a lack of maintaining the home.)
- Check between the gutters and your home to make sure no water has seeped behind them.
- Remove water that has pooled on the ground, especially from the downspouts. – Again, if rainwater isn’t displaced, it could result in rot, cracks, and foundational issues later.
Windows & Doors
Windows and doors might add a nice aesthetic to both the inside and outside of your home, but they keep unwanted pests and debris out. So, before or during the Fall:
- Repair any cracks or holes in your doors and windows
- Make sure the area around the doors and windows is properly sealed. – This not only helps keep pests out, but it can also help you keep in heat, which can help you save money on your energy bill.
Your home’s exterior
Your home’s job, after all, is to protect you from the elements. Make sure that the outside of your home can do that by:
- Scheduling a roof inspection – You should have someone check your roof at least once a year. Fall can be the perfect time to schedule an inspection, right before potential hail and snow damage weighs and wears on your roof. Choose a reputable roofing company who will identify and report any potential problems you may see in the near future. Some companies even offer FREE inspections because it means you’re more likely to call them for a repair if needed. Beware, though. If someone offers you a free roof, it’s a scam.
- Visually inspecting the outside of your house. – Look for cracks in your foundation, mold growth, fallen siding, wood rot, or anything else that needs to be patched up before freezing becomes an issue.
- Sealing up any gaps. – Winter is an especially hard time for pests too. So, there will be a lot more of them trying to make a cozy home inside your humble abode. Don’t give them the chance! Close any holes that you see and block any potential entrances that bugs or rodents might use, big or small.
Additionally, check your walkways and steps for gaps that could trip you up. Snow and ice are already hard to navigate. Plus, if gaps are wide enough in these areas, water can seep in, freeze over, and cause even concrete to expand and crack.
- Checking your deck, porch, or patio. – Look for rusted bolts, rotting boards, etc. and replace them before the extra fall and winter water make the issues worse.
- Making sure your outdoor lights work. – This safety feature won’t do you any good if the lights themselves aren’t working. So, take a look at your outdoor lighting. Replace blown light bulbs, check motion sensors if you have them, and arrange to have any wiring issues repaired. Remember, it stays darker for longer in the winter, which means more time for burglars to hide in the dead of night. Maintaining your outdoor lighting can help you prevent burglary and help keep your home safe overall.
Depending on your preference, you may or may not get a lot of use out of your yard in the winter. However, the land is still important to maintain. Before they become larger issues, check on these items in your lawn:
- Long or fallen tree limbs – Trim down shrub and tree limbs that are too close to power lines or rotten enough to possibly fall on your roof or a neighbor’s property. Loose branches are no match for heavy winds, rains, and the weight of snow.
- Your sprinkler systems, hoses, and exterior fountains – Chances are, you won’t be watering your lawn much in the winter. If you don’t, drain and store your hoses and sprinkler system somewhere water-resistant. If you do still use an automatic sprinkler system, remember to lower the frequency or amount of water used. Doing so can help you save on water and energy bills as well.
- Your pool – If you have a pool, make sure you have it drained or covered before the weather gets too cold. Keeping water out in the open like that could create a hazard or throw off the pH balance when you are ready to swim.
- Fallen leaves – Even if you jump in them afterward, rake up your leaves and put them in large trash bags to be thrown out. If you leave them on the ground, water could get trapped underneath and rot not only the leaves, but your lawn.
- Outdoor furniture – Leaving your patio furniture outside year-round decreases its lifespan. So, wipe down and clean off any outdoor furniture and find a safe place to store it for the fall and winter seasons.
Your home’s interior
Making the inside of your home comfy and cozy means more than just turning your central air system from cool to heat. These items will need your attention now so that you can be safe and warm later:
- Having your chimney inspected – Before you light the first fire of the season, open your flue and clean your chimney. Have a professional come and inspect the system before winter weather officially comes. There’s a higher demand for chimney inspections as it gets colder. So, if you wait to schedule, you may be waiting a lot longer for an inspector to come out.
- Having your HVAC/furnace inspected – The same goes for furnace inspections. Make sure your heat works before the cold weather hits, and have a specialist inspect your furnace before the rush. You don’t want to be stuck without heat for an extended period of time.
- Cleaning your dryer – This is more than just emptying the lint trap. Clean out your dryer vents before the greater amount of static electricity makes its shocking appearance known – in the form of a house fire.
- Checking your air filter & vents – If it’s been a while since you’ve looked at your air filter, it might be time to change it. Plus, cleaning out dust and debris in your vents can help your heating run more efficiently and with less of a burning smell.
- Making sure your pipes are well-insulated – If you can gain access to your piping system, make sure that they’re still well insulated to avoid them freezing over.
- Knowing where your main water line is and how to turn it off. – It can be useful if your pipes do freeze and you need to turn it off.
- Doing a semi-annual check on your carbon monoxide and smoke detectors.
- Checking your insulation, especially in your attic. – If there are any rooms that feel unnaturally cold compared to the rest of your house, you should probably check the insulation in that room. Additionally, take a peek at how the insulation in your attic is doing. Heat rises; so, if your attic isn’t properly insulated, that’s heat that’s escaping through your roof, and less heat that’s reaching you. Add more insulation if needed or if your current insulation is rotted or molded.
It’s also never a bad season to review your home insurance policy and shop around. However, we know that it can be a hassle to shop for homeowners insurance. That’s why our experts are here to help. We’ve formed relationships with the best carriers in the business so we can help you find great rates and coverage. Plus, we shop for you year after year to make sure you get the best prices! To start getting quotes from our insurance specialists, just give us a call, fill out our online form, or LiveChat with us today!