Avoid Costly repairs, and wrap up that to-do list!

This guest article was generously supplied by Paul Denikin of Dad Knows DIY. Check out his website for more great tips.

Most homeowners have a regular list of seasonal chores that require tending, but there are a few that can slip through the cracks. When following proper home maintenance at the close of summer, these extra tips save you money in the long run.  Follow these guidelines to help you avoid costly repairs and wrap up that to-do list.

Prevent freezing pipes

When water freezes it expands, and pipes that are allowed to freeze can burst and flood your home.  Experts from The Balance recommend that you prevent this costly damage by taking these steps:

●      Maintain temperature –  Leave thermostats set for a minimum of 50 degrees.

●      Let faucets drip –  Keep some water moving to help prevent freezing water lines.

●      Open doors – Open the doors of rooms to allow airflow and maintain temperature.  You should also open cabinet doors to allow airflow around pipes under sinks.

●      Seal air leaks –  Prevent cold air from entering your home by sealing cracks and holes with caulk. Pay special attention to areas around pipes.

●      Add insulation –  You may need to add more insulation in unheated areas of your home such as an attic or basement.

Don’t forget your outdoor spigots as well.  Experts recommend disconnecting garden hoses and draining spigots before freezing temps arrive.

Replace air filters

Professionals explain that in order to keep your home’s heating system running efficiently, you need to routinely replace the air filters, which is generally done every 90 days.  This simple action helps prevent overworking the system, which could require repairs or even cause premature failure of the unit.  Here is what to do:

  1. Shut off the unit.
  2. Purchase the appropriate filter for your unit and ensure it’s undamaged.
  3. Follow the instructions accompanying the filter to make sure it is inserted facing the correct direction.
  4. Ensure there are no gaps around the filter frame; gaps mean either there is a defect in the filter or it is the wrong size.
  5. Clean up any dust with a rag.
  6. Turn the unit back on.  Make sure the filter stays in place when the unit is running.
  7. Note the date you made the replacement.  This will help determine if there is a problem with the system.  A filter that becomes dirty quickly indicates a problem.

Of course, it’s always important to check the filter size before buying a new one.  And if you’re worried about the number of particles the filter collects, pay attention to the MERV rating.  In short, the higher the MERV rating, the more particles it will collect.

Smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors

Be sure to properly maintain these life-saving devices.  Run a couple simple tests to make sure the units are working properly.

Testing your smoke alarm:  Pressing the “test” button is easy but doesn’t really ensure your unit is working, it just checks that the alarm is receiving power.  According to Dummies, here is the right way to test your smoke alarm:

  1. Bundle and light a few wooden matches.
  2. Blow them out.
  3. Let the smoke rise toward the alarm.
  4. The smoke should trigger the alarm.

Replace the batteries in your smoke alarms every six months.  If a smoke alarm is getting older it could be deteriorating.  Be sure to get new ones at least every 10 years.

Testing your carbon monoxide detector:  Experts recommend routine testing of your carbon monoxide detectors to ensure your family’s safety.  Just like with smoke alarms, pressing the “test” button is not sufficient.  Follow these simple steps to make sure your detectors are in good working order:

  1. Buy a carbon monoxide (CO) test kit with a detector badge at a hardware store.
  2. Note the date of your test on the front of the badge.
  3. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions on where to locate the badge.
  4. Check the badge within 15 minutes of installation.  The badge changes color if it detects CO.  Even a slight color change indicates a problem.
  5. If the badge changes color, immediately find the cause and resolve any problems.
  6. If no CO is detected, leave the badge in place as recommended by the manufacturer.

As you prep your house for the harsher seasons, using the above tips will help your house stay in great shape and can save you money. Get ready for cooler weather by preventing freezing pipes, replacing air filters, and testing your smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors.
Once you cross off everything on your to-do list, it’s time to sit back and enjoy the best the season has to offer.