The fall is still a few weeks away, but it’s never a bad time to inspect your home and ensure that everything is running as efficiently as possible! Besides, wouldn’t you rather catch issues with drafty windows and doors before you’re paying a big heating bill?
Checking a few key problem areas can even help you prevent weather related water damage, too. A good rule of thumb is that if air can get in, water probably can, too. Most homeowners insurance doesn’t cover gradual water damage, so it’s especially important that you make sure that your home is well protected from the elements! Maintaining your home is faster, easier, and cheaper than filing insurance claims or paying out of pocket for repairs.
Here are some key areas to inspect for drafts or leaks:
Window panes, seals, and frames
Constant exposure to the sun and the elements means that these areas wear down and deteriorate over time. Check all parts of your windows for leaks, including:
- Everywhere the window sashes meet or rest in the window frame
- The spaces where the window sashes meet and overlap one another (such as the seam in a vertical or horizontal sliding window)
- Where the window frame meets the wall
When the seals in any of these areas start to break down, the windows start to lose their energy efficiency. This happens when air leaks into or out of your house, changing your home’s temperature and making your heating or cooling system work overtime. If you notice leaks or cracks in your window seals, fill them! This can be easily done with store bought weather stripping materials. If the leaks or cracks are showing where the window frame meets the wall, you may want to consider professional help. Re-caulking the area can help keep water and air from getting into your home, but cracked or leaky external window seals can lead to the nearby areas sustaining water damage. For this reason, you want to make sure that the external re-sealing process is done by someone with experience.
Door seals and thresholds
Just like your windows, the doorways into and out of your home have seals that can wear down over time. The seals and weather stripping at the bottom of a door are particularly prone to wearing out, since they’re frequently brushing over the bottom sill of the doorway. Thankfully, this is a relatively quick and low-cost fix! You can buy a wide variety of door weather stripping products at your local hardware store, and installation usually takes less than an hour.
If you feel air coming in through your walls or through your electrical outlets, check the exterior walls. If there are no obvious issues or damaged areas needing repair, insulation may be the issue. Consider installing some additional insulation or replacing the existing insulation if needed. Sometimes, adding a little extra insulation can make a big difference on your home’s heating and cooling bills. Also, the cost of installation is usually relatively low. Insulation plays a huge role in helping your home conserve heat. Investing in better insulation now can save you money in the long term on your electrical or gas heating bills.
Chimneys, fireplaces, and other heating sources
If your home has a fireplace with a chimney, it’s a good idea to have it professionally inspected each year before you start using the fireplace. Even if you haven’t used the fireplace much and don’t think there’s any buildup in the chimney, you might be surprised! Many animals and birds will actually make nests in chimneys. Nests of course can act as a blockage, and any blockages in a chimney pose a fire hazard. For that reason, you should always check your chimney (or have it checked) before you start running your fireplace for the season.
- If you have a furnace, have it checked annually to make sure everything is in good working order. The last thing you want is to run into problems with your home heating system when it’s freezing outside! As with all things, regular maintenance is almost always cheaper than large repairs.
Inspect your roof (or have it inspected)
If it’s been a while since your last roof inspection, now is a great time to get up there and check it out! If you’re not sure what to look for, or if you are unsure about the condition of your roof, contact a professional roofer! They can survey the roof for any issues and give you estimates for repair work. They can also sometimes suggest special roof coatings that could help prevent damage in the short term. This will help until you can get things lined up for major renovations or replacement. They may also have some suggestions on DIY fixes you can try. Consulting with professionals can give you new ideas that you might have otherwise not had the expertise to come up with on your own.
Plus a Bonus Fall Preparation Task:
Pest-proof your home
When the weather starts to turn colder, you aren’t the only one who will turn to your home for warmth! Many smaller creatures like rodents and birds will be looking for somewhere cozy to spend the colder months, and the last thing you want is for them to make your home their own. They can be dirty, noisy, and destructive — not to mention, damage from rodents typically isn’t covered by insurance! You really don’t want a family of critters taking over your home, so be sure and do some checks around your property before winter.
- Check the exit ports of any external vents, such as for the clothes dryer or bathroom fans. Make sure they have screens installed so that birds and animals can’t make their way inside. If you already have screens on your vents, inspect them for damage. Replace any that have deteriorated or have holes, rips, or tears. Screening is usually cheap, and a little preventative maintenance now can save you money and stress in the long term!
- Inspect your outer walls for holes or cracks. Holes in your outer walls are essentially an invitation for rodents, bugs, and other pests to make themselves at home! On top of that, damaged walls can contribute to issues with water leaks, water damage and mold growth. Make sure to repair problems with your home’s exterior as soon as possible.
- If you think you’re already dealing with a pest problem, listen for sounds in your walls, ceilings, or your attic. If you can hear noises, then consider getting a professional pest control company to come and inspect your home. The initial inspection fee is typically low-cost. As with all things home related, preventative maintenance is easier than remediation and repairs!
Remember, keeping proactive and getting ahead of potential problems will save you money! It can both prevent costly repairs and insurance claims, and it will allow you to budget for future repairs as they are needed. If you notice parts and pieces of your home wearing down, you can plan and budget for their replacement. This prevents you from always trying to come up with money for emergency repairs.
If you’ve got any questions about your home’s upkeep, or if you’re looking for someone to help with repairs, Elite Restoration is here to help. We handle everything from simple repairs and replacements to full service emergency restoration services — call or email anytime!