Homeowners: Here’s How to Prepare Your Home This Fall

Prepare for the fall season

With those hot, muggy summer days a thing of the past, the crisp fall season is the perfect time of year to get important work done around your Louisville home. With cold weather arriving in just a few short weeks, learn the important steps to take to get various aspects of your home ready with help from Jarboe’s Plumbing, Heating & Cooling.

Inspect Around the Outside of Your Home

Mild fall days are the best time to get some work done on the outside of your house to protect it come winter, as this work is much harder to complete when there is snow and ice about. Take a walk around your home and inspect key areas for damage so you can then get to work performing any necessary repairs.

  • Check the foundation over for cracks. Hairline cracks running vertically most often are nothing to worry about structurally, they’re simply a cosmetic issue – paint over them if you’d like. If you see cracks larger than hairline status but still under an eight of an inch wide, these also don’t pose a risk to your home at this point but it’s a good idea to start monitoring them – make each end with a pencil and note the date so it’s easy to judge if the crack is expanding next time you check your foundation. Any cracks wider than an eighth of an inch should be sealed – use epoxy, silicone, polyurethane, or latex concrete caulking in a caulk gun to close up these gaps and prevent them from taking on moisture.
  • Inspect painted exterior surfaces. If any paint is peeling away or starting to bubble off the surface, remove the paint in the area and recover it – repainting protects the material below. For your paint to dry properly, you should complete this project on a day with minimal or no wind, with a temperature above 60 degrees and humidity levels between 40 to 70.
  • Look over your home’s roofline to spot damage and problem areas. Missing, buckled, or cracked shingles could cause leaks in the roof and need to be replaced as soon as possible. If flashing around the chimney is rusty or corroded, clean up these reactions and remove them from the flashing before resealing it, or replace the flashing entirely to protect against leaks coming in around your chimney.

Drainage and Gutter Cleaning

To prevent various water and property damage issues that can occur over the winter, make sure all gutters are cleaned and correctly installed. Wait until nearly all leaves in the area have fallen to the ground so there won’t be a need to repeat this process again in a few weeks.

  1. Pull out and discard matter that has collected inside the gutters – twigs, leaves, seed pods, etc.
  2. Run your garden hose and spray out the interiors of the gutters to clean away grime and muck left after cleaning out larger debris. Spray the hose down the downspouts to force out clogs that have gotten caught up in these tubes.
  3. Watch how the gutter system drains away this water – does water pool at any areas in the gutter run? If so, the pitch of the gutter needs to be adjusted so water flows out completely.
  4. Make sure gutters are tightly attached to the gutter boards sitting behind them. Check gutter hangers to make sure none are missing, bent, or loose – make repairs or replace them as needed.
  5. If you have downspout extensions attached to the metal downspouts, make sure they drain correctly. They should empty four feet or more away from the house and not empty in such a way that runoff drains back to the house.
  6. If your downspouts empty directly into a storm drain, make sure the long extension tubes are secure and in good condition without damage. Verify that the end of the extension feeds directly into the storm drain.

Maintaining Heating System Equipment

Before it gets cold enough to turn on the heat, perform the maintenance your furnace, boiler, or heat pump needs. Maintenance in the fall prepares your heating system for efficient operation once winter arrives.

  1. Call Jarboe’s Plumbing, Heating & Cooling to make an appointment for a furnace or heating system maintenance tune up.
  2. Look back to the past fall, winter, and spring and consider the performance of your furnace, boiler, or heat pump at that time. If you were having difficulties with the home staying at a consistent temperature, your utility bills went up, or there was some other notable problem with the unit, don’t let them persist into another year of heating. Call us to request a repair service visit so our team can diagnose the problem’s source and fix it for better indoor comfort.
  3. Change the system’s furnace filter if you have a forced air furnace or heat pump. With a new air filter, there will be no contamination already forming a blockage that’s harder to move air through when it’s time to heat the home.

Maintaining Fireplaces and Chimneys

Many Louisville area households use their fireplaces and furnaces to warm the aesthetics of their living areas in winter as well as the temperature. Just like heating equipment, furnaces and chimneys require annual care, too.

  • Look for a reputable chimney sweep by asking friends and family who live nearby for a recommendation. Before you hire a company, look for ones who employ chimney sweeps that are certified by the Chimney Safety Institute of America (CSIA).
  • Your chimney as well as the fireplace should be swept to remove creosote and soot that has built up. It’s recommended when the interior walls have buildup of 1/8th of an inch, or whenever there is visible buildup.

Stop Air Leaks

Openings in various areas of the home let heated air and energy escape. By sealing up these leaks, your home will stay warmer and your heating system will use less energy to do its job.

  1. Start at areas that are commonly drafty – around doors and windows. Use a strip of paper and place it between the open door or window and the frame, then close the door or window. If you are able to easily wiggle the strip of paper, sealing is needed. Weatherstripping products can be applied to tighten the seal between doors and windows and their frames.
  2. Use caulking products to seal air leaks around the outer edge of window and door frames where they meet walls, cracks in the foundation, locations where wiring or pipes go through exterior walls, and other areas where openings or damage are found.
  3. Schedule duct sealing service with Jarboe’s Plumbing, Heating & Cooling to close duct leaks and improve the energy efficiency of your heating system. Duct sealing closes small gaps between duct sections, loose joints, and areas of damage that allow air to escape into unconditioned parts of the home, such as the crawlspace or attic.

Carbon Monoxide and Smoke Detector Upkeep

Every six months, you should change the batteries in all carbon monoxide alarms and smoke detectors. These units should be tested monthly and replaced as needed.

  1. Replace carbon monoxide alarms every five to seven years. Detach the unit from the wall and check the backside for a manufacturing date or expiration date. If the unit’s expiration date has passed or will pass in the next six months, replace it now. If the manufacturing date of the unit is more than five years ago, replace the alarm.
  2. Replace smoke detectors every 10 years. Detach the unit from its location on the wall and flip it over to see the expiration date on the back. If the expiration date has passed or will pass in the next six months, replace the unit now.
  3. Remove existing batteries from all carbon monoxide alarms and smoke detectors. Replace them with brand new batteries in each unit. Existing batteries can be saved for other uses around the house if they are not dead.
  4. Reposition smoke detectors on the wall. Hold down the test button on the unit, keeping the button depressed until the unit produces an alert – this can take up to 20 seconds. Replace the unit if the alarm does not sound or if the alarm sound is low volume.
  5. Reposition carbon monoxide alarms on the wall. Hold down the unit’s test button until the alert is played. If the alert does not play or the sound is low in volume, replace the unit now.

Protect Household Plumbing

Plumbing maintenance will help you avoid leaks and water damage when temperatures drop, as some pipes may be prone to freezing.

  1. Inspect all faucets and toilets in your home for leaks and fix the leaks you find now.
  2. Store garden hoses for the season by removing them from outdoor spigots, draining the hose, coiling it, and placing it in a sheltered location for storage.
  3. If your outdoor spigots are not frost-free models, they need to be winterized. Close the valve on the supply line leading to the spigot – this is typically located inside the wall within a few feet and may be found in a basement, crawlspace, or utility room. Open the outdoor spigot valve to drain remaining water and leave it open for winter.
  4. Protect pipes vulnerable to freezing by installing pipe insulation and boosting insulation in problematic areas of the home. Pipes that are most likely to freeze are farthest away from the center of the home, near windows or doors, along outside walls, and in areas of the home that do not receive heat such as a crawlspace.
  5. Clean and inspect your sump pump. Disconnect the unit from its power source and remove it from the sump pit, then check it over for rust and corrosion as well as damage. Clean the inlet screen. Check the sump pit for debris and gunk, cleaning it out if necessary. Reinstall your sump pump and test the unit by filling the pit with enough water to activate the float switch. Observe operation and make sure the pump turns off when the necessary amount of water is removed. Check the condition of discharge lines, making sure the exit is not blocked or clogged, and see that all water drains from the line.

Prepare for Cold Weather with Professional Help

Get your Louisville area home ready for the winter season with help from the pros at Jarboe’s Plumbing, Heating & Cooling. Schedule your heating system maintenance tune up or plumbing repairs today when you give us a call.

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