Almost Time to Hibernate
So Fall in NH marches on and it’s been pretty spectacular! I know. Some people long for the cold, crisp air that this season typically brings, but I desperately hang on to every warm day and we have been blessed with more than usual. I hope you were able to get out and enjoy the beautiful foliage, carve a pumpkin and pick some apples. Mmm… Nothing says fall like a fresh apple crisp baking in the oven!
Now as we prepare for the brisk temps of fall, we want to take another walk around the perimeter of our house, thinking like a NH home inspector. What needs our attention besides the abundance of leaves that need to be raked? Well, we know that many of those leaves, as well as pine needles and twigs have probably made their way into the gutters. If we don’t take the time to clear them out now, we are not only reducing their effectiveness, but we are likely looking at big problems down the road. You don’t want to create a breeding ground in the stagnant water, don’t want the rainwater to overflow and possibly damage your siding or make its’ way into your home, you don’t want damage to the gutters and you certainly don’t want ice and ice dams to form! A little effort now will go a long way in saving you money down the road. If your gutters are too high and the thought of climbing a ladder to clear them sends chills down your spine, consider hiring a reputable professional! However, if your gutters are reasonably accessible but you aren’t sure of the best way to tackle this chore, there are many great tips and gadgets to be found at your local hardware store or online to make the job easier.
Have you disconnected and put away your hoses? Drained (blown out) your irrigation systems? Turned off the outdoor faucets at the shut off valve inside your house? Such sad signs of the season for a homeowner! On with your inspection:
Another thing a reputable home inspector will observe is the vents on the outside of the house. Are your dryer vents clogged with lint or possibly missing a flap or two? You want all that moist air to flow freely out of your house so that you don’t encourage any microbial growth in your house or on/under your siding. You also want all of the flaps in place, with the ability to close completely when the dryer is not in use so that you aren’t inviting any unwelcome visitors in through that opening. Also, is there at least 4’ clearance around your furnace vents or have your plants/bushes started to snuggle in around them? Despite lilacs being my favorite flower, I am going to have to pull out those loppers and remove a few precious branches. I’m telling myself that it will just encourage new growth in a better location, but even if it doesn’t it’s still a necessary evil. I know that blocking the exhaust can cause the automatic shut-off on the furnace to engage and I don’t even want to consider the possibility of carbon monoxide backing up into the house – Which reminds me! Check and change the batteries on the smoke and carbon monoxide detectors! An easy way for us to remember to do this is to get in the habit of doing it every time we change the clocks for Daylight Saving. Ugh! Spring forward, Fall back… Am I the only person whose internal clock is wrecked for at least a week when we mess with the clocks!
Which leads right into another thing a good home inspector will look at. Are your outdoor lights functioning properly? Did wind or water damage them in the past few weeks? Are there bulbs that need to be replaced? It won’t be long and we will be relying on those lights in the afternoon! We certainly don’t want to be stumbling in the dark to find the warm, comfort of indoors!
But will it be warm, or at least as warm as we want it to be when we get indoors? Do we have gaps around the doors or windows? (If you see daylight around them, then the answer is yes). Guilty! Well, we all enjoy a little fresh air but NOT blowing in around our doors and windows! We typically leave cracked or broken windows to a professional, but without going to the expense of hiring a professional there are many things we can do with little expense and minimal effort. Silicone caulking in spaces wider than a nickel between the siding and doors and windows will make a big difference. As will applying weather stripping and using a draft stop that you could either purchase or make yourself. You could also choose to install a sweep to the bottom of the door. These are all quick fixes that won’t cost much now and will prevent your furnace from working harder and longer – saving you money in the long run!
If you haven’t already, get your heat source serviced before you REALLY need it. Whether that’s a furnace, boiler, heat pump or just having your wood stove’s chimney cleaned. This is something that you really can’t avoid. It’s a necessary expense and with proper maintenance you extend its’ life, reduce your risks and improve your peace of mind.
Phew! So much to do in so little time! And it’s getting cold! Who wants to be outside working in the cold!? Better get out there and check things off your list while we still have a few warm days (and sunshine) left! And at the end of the day you can kick back with a mug of hot, spiced cider while you daydream about the fantastic holiday light display you’re planning, enjoying the fact that the only breeze you are getting is the hint of warm air circulating from your slow speed ceiling fan (spinning clockwise for winter).
Until next time,