Take some time now to prepare your home for fall. A few home maintenance tasks may take a Saturday afternoon to complete; but will be worth it this winter.
Let’s begin with outdoor tasks and work our way inside. Whether you own your home or rent, check these areas to avoid possible problems or added expense as the colder weather sets in.
Inspect the Water Main Route
In most cases, the property owner is responsible for damages of a water main break when it happens between the road and the house.
Often, water main problems are a result of tree roots growing through older pipes. If you have mature trees with roots pushing up the sidewalk or driveway, you may want to check their proximity to water main also.
The same can apply to the sewer line. Vegetation growing through these lines can block the flow completely, causing a backup in your home that can bring very unpleasant results.
Remove Garden Hoses from Outdoor Faucets
Useful during the hot summer months, the garden hoses are a nuisance when left out all winter.
When attached, they can cause water to back up in the faucets and plumbing pipes inside the exterior walls. The water could freeze, expand, and crack the faucet or pipes.
As an extra step, turn off any shutoff valves on water supply lines that lead to exterior faucets.
Drain Your Sprinkler System
Buried irrigation lines can freeze, leading to busted pipes and broken sprinkler heads. Turn off the water to the system at the main valve and shut off the automatic controller. Open drain valves to remove water from the system.
Finally, remove any above-ground sprinkler heads and shake the water out of them, then replace.
Seal Air Leaks
As we move towards the inside of the house, it’s a good idea to see how well things are sealed around window and door frames. Large gaps will let in the frigid winter air, which isn’t very economical when operating a heating system.
There are other entryways to the inside of the home that are less obvious but could cause massive damage if not noticed. Wherever pipes enter your home, inspect the hole around the pipe to be sure it is well sealed. Cold air coming in around a pipe can cause frozen pipes inside the house when the temperature drops. This could lead to a water leak in the basement, or an outright flood.
Test Inside Water Shutoff Valves
Wherever you use water inside your home, there is usually a shutoff valve. Check the little dial behind the toilet that controls the flow of fresh water into the tank. Make sure you can close it all the way and open it with ease.
The same goes for valves under the sinks in bathrooms and the kitchen; and behind the washing machine in the laundry room.
Over time, these valve handles may become dirty or rusted in the open position and useless. Lubricate the valve stem a bit and make sure you can turn it on and off easily.
Look at fixtures and hoses for cracks that drip. Dishwasher and washing-machine hoses are vulnerable points if they get brittle or aren’t connected properly.
Keep the Water Hot and Flowing
Flushing the hot water heater regularly will prevent sediment from building up inside.
Here’s a pro tip: the normal valve commonly found on a conventional water heater doesn’t open wide enough to let all the particles out. A better option is to have your plumber install a Wide-Open Valve, which opens larger and has a hose connection to easily direct the water away from the system.
Check Your Furnace
Schedule an appointment with a professional to have the heating system checked and tuned up for the coming season. An annual maintenance agreement itemizes the areas that should proactively be checked each year. There is often a discount for future parts and service under the agreement also.
The maintenance agreement will probably cover a furnace filter replacement; but if not, then this is a good time to change the filters. Don’t make the mistake of installing a filter that’s too dense. It won’t let the proper air flow through the system and could cause a malfunction.
HVAC systems with built-in humidifiers also need to be cleaned, and filters replaced.
If you use stand-alone humidifiers, make sure they are sanitized frequently to prevent mold and bacteria buildup. Dirty water pushed through the fine mist of a humidifier can lead to health problems.
Schedule a Call
Checking through these systems at the beginning of the season will give you better peace of mind and comfort all winter. If you discover problems with pipes or waterflow in any of these areas, call a plumber for help.
Maintenance agreements are also available through Naugle Plumbing & Heating for just about every type of HVAC system.