Securing Your Home for Seasonal Change

(Plus Other Maintenance Tips for Proactive Homeowners)

Fall in Oswego, Yorkville, Aurora, Naperville and Montgomery (IL) is a great time to be a Midwesterner for all the reasons you’re familiar with. If you’re a homeowner, it’s also an opportunity to prepare your house for the harsher weather ahead.

Snow, ice and frigid air can all be rough on a dwelling, but you can do a few things to keep winter conditions at bay. Let’s review them from the outside toward the inside of your home.

Fall Home Maintenance: House Exterior

  • Check and clean the gutters and downspouts. A lot of leaves and debris can gather in the gutters during the year. If they’re not cleaned and cleared periodically, water can back up in them or get trapped behind them. Messy gutters can result in pest infestations and wood rot as well.
  • Check for any pooling water on the ground. If it remains standing, it can lead to problems in the home’s foundation.
  • Examine different areas of the exterior such as the foundation and siding. Determine if anything might need patching or repair before the winter weather can make it worse.
  • Drain and disconnect outdoor hoses before cold weather arrives. You might consider storing them too.
  • Secure the house from rodents and pests. Any holes or gaps in the exterior can be welcome signs for critters such as mice and squirrels seeking sanctuary from the cold.

Fall Home Maintenance: Windows & Doors

Inspect windows, doors and doorframes to see if they have any cracks or leaks that should be sealed or repaired before winter air can pass through them.

If you do spot any cracks or leaks, use caulk or weather stripping to seal them. This will help trap more heat in the house and keep it warmer. Sealing and repairing doors and windows also helps control your heating bills.

Fall Home Maintenance: Home Interior

Have your heating system inspected and tuned up. Fall is the ideal time for furnace maintenance because of the milder temperatures. Plus, because you don’t yet need the system as often, there tends to be more flexibility in HVAC technicians’ schedules. You can help to avoid dealing with a crisis when the demand for service is greater in winter. Be sure to check and change the air filter consistently too.

Have your ducts cleaned. Clogged or dirty ducts lower your heating system’s efficiency while generating more dust.

Check smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors. They should be properly working and have fresh batteries. If for any reason you don’t have smoke and CO detectors installed, make a point of doing it soon.

Consider your home insulation. Proper home insulation including in the attic supports your furnace in keeping the home and its occupants warm.

Fall and winter include events with large meals and gatherings too, so you’ll want to be mindful of what goes into your drains and the garbage disposal. Plugged pipes and water back-ups can be caused by many different items and become a major issue.

Avoid materials such as raw meats, coffee grounds, starches, fats and greases in the kitchen drain and the disposal. In addition, avoid flushing items such as hand or baby wipes, feminine products, diapers and paper towels down the toilet.

If you do have a clogged drain this fall or winter, it’s better to call in a professional plumber than use chemical drain cleaners, which can damage your pipes.

A Note about Freezing Pipes

Pipes deserve their own discussion because they can really wreak havoc when it gets cold out in Oswego, Yorkville, Aurora, Naperville and Montgomery.

As you’re aware, water freezes in winter. Freezing makes water expand, which can crack or break even the metal in pipes.

You can save yourself a lot of mess, stress and expense by preventing freezing pipes. Here are some things you can do.

  • Identify pipes that can freeze, such as in basements, attics, crawl spaces, garages and outdoor lines. It’s also good to be familiar with where the cut-off to your outside water supply is and where your water lines and water-heater valves are. Should your house’s pipes ever freeze, you’ll want to know how to turn water off.
  • Open outside faucets so they can drain. Once you know they are empty and the supply valve is closed, you can keep them open so that if water does enter and freeze in the line, it will have more room to expand and less chance of bursting the line.
  • Letting cold water drip from your indoor faucets during very cold weather can further help to prevent pipes from freezing.
  • Keep pipes well-insulated. This is especially important for unheated areas of the home. Products such as heat tape and pipe sleeves can help with this.
  • Maintain consistent temperatures. By keeping your home temperature steady during late fall and winter, you’ll help avoid conditions that can contribute to frozen pipes. When it gets really cold out, you can open kitchen and bathroom cabinet doors open to allow more circulation of warm air around exposed plumbing as well.

When You Need Service Soon, Contact RJ Kuhn

RJ Kuhn is always ready to support Oswego, Yorkville, Aurora, Naperville and Montgomery (IL) homeowners with the service and answers they need in fall and winter. If you would like to further discuss tips for home maintenance, just give us a call at (630) 554-3336.