Ask the Inspector IX - Picket Fence Preview Real Estate

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Dear Hans,
In one of last year's articles you wrote about getting your home ready for winter. Could you please post that again? Thanks Gayl (Arlington)

Water

€ Disconnect any garden hoses.
€ If the exterior faucets are not frost free, drain the water out.
€ Remove any pond pumps and store the pump in your basement in a 5-gallon bucket filled with water. This will help to prevent the seals from drying out.
€ If you have a utility sink in your garage, drain the water out of the pipes and dump some RV anti-freeze into the drain.
€ If you have a lawn sprinkler system (aka ³irrigation system²) it needs to be drained and blown out with compressed air. Hire a pro to do this.

Air

€ Clean the combustion air or makeup air intake vents.
€ If an air exchange system is present, such as a heat recovery ventilator (HRV) or energy recovery ventilator (ERV), clean it. Regular maintenance items for an HRV include cleaning the exterior intake, the filters, and the core.
€ Clean the clothes dryer duct. The damper at the exterior should move freely and close properly.
€ Check the bathroom and kitchen exhaust dampers for wasp nests. Nests in these terminals will prevent the dampers from openings.

Roof

€ Clean the soffit vents. These can get clogged up with lint, dust, insulation, and paint. They¹re located under the roof overhangs.
€ Check the roof vents for bird nests. They can typically be seen from the ground.
€ Clean the gutters after all the leaves have fallen.
€ If the downspouts or sump pumps drain into an underground system, re-direct them to drain to the ground surface when feasible.

Air Conditioner

€ Outdoor covers are NOT necessary. If a cover is used, it should be the type that only covers the top, not a full enclosure.

General Exterior

€ Seal any gaps around the home 'envelope'; check for loose or dried out caulking around pipes, ducts, faucets, air conditioner refrigerant lines, etc. While this is the most generic piece of fall maintenance advice, it¹s still smart to do this before winter.
€ Replace any damaged or worn weatherstripping around windows and doors.

Smoke / CO Alarms

€ Smoke alarms should be located inside every bedroom, and one in a common area on every level including the basement.
€ If you don¹t have photoelectric smoke alarms in your home, add them. This is a big deal. If you don't know what type you have, you probably don't have photoelectric.
€ CO alarms should be located within ten feet of every sleeping room, but not in furnace rooms, kitchens, or garages.
€ Replace the batteries in your smoke alarms and carbon monoxide alarms and test them using the built-in test buttons.
€ Check the age of your smoke and CO alarms; smoke alarms are good for up to ten years, CO alarms are good for between five and ten years. If they¹re any older, replace them.

Furnace / Boiler

€ Have a professional furnace or boiler tune-up performed annually.
€ Replace the batteries in your thermostat. If your thermostat fails while you're on vacation, you might come home to a winter wonderland.
€ Clean or replace the furnace filter ­ this should usually be done every one to three months, depending on the type of filter. The arrow on the filter should point toward the furnace.

Fireplaces

€ Have the flues professionally cleaned on any wood burning fireplaces if they get used regularly; every 30 ­ 50 fires is a good rule of thumb.
€ Avoid burning any woods that are not hard and dry.
€ Clean the dust out of the bottoms of any gas fireplace inserts.
€ If you have a gas log installed in a wood burning fireplace with an adjustable damper, make sure there is a damper stop installed to prevent the damper from getting closed all the way.