Fall is here and as the leaves start to change so should our homes. It never seems like fall lasts long in Alberta and to prepare for the approaching winter, here is the Encor Fall Energy Checklist. A step-by-step guide to prepare your home for the season and everything that comes after it.
Clean up those gutters
Between the buildup of dirt, debris, and falling leaves, it's almost too easy for your gutters, downspouts, and eavestroughs to become clogged. Blocked gutters can lead to damaged exteriors, rust and corrosion, and freezing and cracking when the snow starts to arrive. Fall is the perfect time to clean them before your roof becomes too slippery and mud starts to harden. If you want an easy tip, try using an old plastic spatula to clean the gutters. It avoids scratching, contours to the shape of the gutter and grime can wipe right off of it too! And while you're up there, take a look for any damaged shingles that you might need to replace.
Drain outdoor faucets
Close any shut-off valves and open your outside faucets to help drain the lines. This also goes for any hoses or sprinklers. If there is any water remaining in the lines, it can freeze, expand, and can even burst and cause serious damage. Depending on how much water was in the lines, you might not even notice until next spring. As for hoses, once drained you can curl them up and find a place to store them away such as the garage or shed.
Sweep the chimney
Even if you only use your fireplace occasionally, you should always check it annually for damage or potential hazards. Some things to look out for is buildup of creosote in the flume. What is creosote? It's a flammable by-product from burning wood. If it accumulates too much, it can lead to a devastating fire. If you shine a flashlight up your chimney and notice a build up of any deposits around 1/8 inch thick, you should call a chimney sweep and get it professionally cleaned. It's also always important to make sure there is no damage to the damper, flu, or chimney itself and to keep an eye out for blockage like bird's nests.
Change your furnace filter
Changing your furnace filter is one of the easiest things you can do to keep your furnace in good shape. The worst thing that can happen in winter is losing your furnace so keeping up with annual maintenance is always important. If you haven't changed it in a while, take a look at the current condition of the filter and see how dirty it is and if you need to be using a fresh one. A good rule of thumb is to change 1-2 inch filters every three months, 4 inch filters every six months and 5 inch filters every 12 months. And for aging furnaces, the average lifespan of a gas furnace is 15-20 years so always plan ahead especially before the seasons change.
Inspect the weather stripping and caulking
You might enjoy autumn breezes but maybe not as much if you are feeling them in your home. If you feel drafts around your doors or windows it could be a sign of old weather stripping or poor caulking. Weather stripping is adhesive-backed foam that typically lasts only about 1-3 years and saves you money by keeping warm air in, and cold air out. Not only will a better seal keep you and your family warm this season, it will also make a huge difference on your heating efficiency.
Check CO2 and smoke detectors
You should already be checking these devices once a year to make sure they are working properly but doing so in the fall can be the best time to do it. As you start running your furnace more, these devices can also let you know that everything is running properly. If your heater is malfunctioning, it might emit carbon monoxide or smoke. And since carbon monoxide is a harmful gas with no color or odour, a quick test of your CO2 and smoke detectors and a replacement of batteries will give you peace of mind for the entire year.
Fix driveway cracks
Those small cracks in your driveway might not be much trouble right now but as the snow starts to fall next season and water gets into those cracks, it will start to freeze, expand, and make the cracks even bigger! This can lead to the concrete crumbling or creating larger potholes. Avoid all of that by dealing with it in the fall before it can get any worse. Take a visit to a local hardware store and pick up some concrete crack sealer and fill them all up and be done with it sooner than later.
Check for condensation and humidity
Do you notice excess moisture forming on your windows? Or maybe increased static electricity? These can be signs your home's humidity level is too high or too low. If you notice condensation on windows or water vapour in the air, the humidity is too high, and a dehumidifier can offer a quick and easy fix. If your skin is dryer than normal or your lips are chapped, the humidity might be too low, and a humidifier can help balance it out. Low humidity can also be problem if you don't clean your dryer vents. A buildup of lint and increased static electricity can cause a fire so keep the vents clean and your humidity in check.
Keep this list handy and check back next year when you need to do it all over again. A safe and efficient fall can make for an even safer and more efficient winter. For more helpful tips you can read more of our blogs.