Alright Snoqualmie Valley, fall is upon us. Our notorious winds are just beginning, leaves are changing and falling and fireplaces and furnaces are being turned back on for the cold season. In the spirit of fall, my favorite North Bend handyman, Mike Williams, is sharing some of his best fall home care tips. Follow his advice and you just may need less visits from your favorite local handyman. Oh, and if you have gutters that vibrate in the wind, call Mike. He is listed on the Living Snoqualmie contractor page. He fixed ours with a very creative solution. Read on – and thanks Mike!
Gutters – Clean out debris and use a hose to check that the downspouts are draining well.
Plants – because winter is the dormant time for plants this is a good time to trim back overhanging trees and shrubs so that nothing touches the house’s roof or siding.
Keep the fire in the fireplace – Wood burning devices should have the chimneys checked for soot build-up
Hoses – Disconnect hoses from their spigots and drain them. If you have an outside faucet on an unheated wall, (usually a garage spigot) there should be another faucet upstream on a heated wall that you will need to turn off. Once this one is turned off, open the outside faucet so it can drain.
Cover up – Crawl space vents – some homeowners close or cover their crawl space vents for the winter to keep their pipes from freezing. Be sure to open these important vents in the spring.
Windows – Single pane glass windows should have a storm window or clear plastic sheeting installed, for the winter, to give it additional needed resistance to heat loss.
Pipes – Exposed pipes in crawl spaces and garages are subject to freezing and bare hot water supply pipes lose a lot of heat. The foam pipe wraps do a good job of helping protect these pipes. It is better to get a 1” pipe wrap for a ¾” pipe than it is to install a ¾” pipe wrap that doesn’t completely close over the pipe joints.
Filters – Clean out or replace furnace filters. Also, if applicable, heat exchanger filters, and while you are thinking filters – check the cooking range hood filter. Replacing filters is not a substitute for regular furnace maintenance but it is a simple step we can do to help it operate efficiently.
Refrigerator – Under the refrigerator door there is a grill or cover that pulls out. Behind the grill are coils and usually an evaporative tray. Lint is attracted to these coils and keeps them from dissipating heat which means the refrigerator has to work harder to keep things cool. Clean coils = efficient refrigerator. You may as well clean out the tray while you are there.
Bad gas – if you have a gasoline generator be sure the gasoline has a stabilizer in it so old gasoline does not gum up the carburetor with varnish. Stop the degeneration by adding STA-BIL to any gasoline that will sit in a machine for long periods of time.
Roof moss – Applying a powdered moss killer high on your roof line will allow it to get washed down during the fall and winter rains to prevent moss growth and kill existing moss. (I prefer a Zink Sulfate based powdered product such as Moss Out or Moss-B-Ware) Wait to apply until the rains are beginning so the wind doesn’t blow it off and read the environmental warnings. MossOff is another product that claims to do the job without environmental issues, but I have not tried it.
Going the extra mile
Would you do this for someone you love? – Removing the screens and washing the windows is like bringing home flowers to your spouse. It brightens everyone’s perspective on life. Be sure to mark the screens as to which window they fit.
Take advantage of a windy day – windy days are an opportunity to check around windows, doors and outlets for air leaks. Air leaks account for much of the heat loss in older homes. A smoke stick can help you see air infiltration. Weather-stripping window and door gaps, replacing worn door sweeps help to stop the air infiltration. Add insulating foam sheets under the outlets covers to stop the cold air.
Blow outs can be positive – Sprinkler systems should have the water pushed out of them with a large burst of air to keep them from freezing and the pipes bursting.
Five – The water supply hoses to your clothes washer should be changed every 5 years – write the date on the new ones
The outside is important – Check around doors, windows, and house corners for cracks that might let water inside the siding’s protective barrier.
Getting something for nothing –Many utilities make available low volume shower heads, compact fluorescent lights, and other energy-saving devices for free or discounted at times. Check with yours.