How many times have you been lying in bed catching up on the community news with your favorite NWArk news anchors when they cut to the meteorologist who greets you with shocking news? During the night, temperatures will be dropping so low that hell will freeze over! Oh good grief! Yesterday you were wearing flip-flops. You knew the cold weather would come but as you enjoyed the sunshine and warm days it just did not sink in, again, that Northwest Arkansas weather can turn on a dime. Here’s a list to set up in iCal or on your perpetual calendar to remind you in October to be ready for winter without having to go out at midnight in your PJ’s!
1. Check all windows for drafts and leaks. An especially windy day is a good day to check these. Caulk and a caulking gun can be found in your neighborhood hardware store. It’s easy to use and it will help your home stay dry and warm. Need a little instruction? Every community has a great bunch of guys like those at The Hardware Store in Fayetteville who would be more than glad to give you a tutorial! Visit their wonderful store on Township St. or check listings for the one around the corner in your neighborhood.
2. Check the weather stripping around your exterior doors. All the in and out activity in summer can sometimes cause a lot of wear on those to the point of pulling them off. These are easy to replace, most with a self-adhesive on the stripping itself.
3. Make sure ALL your exterior garden water hoses are disconnected from the wall spouts. Many water spouts have burst in a sudden overnight freeze and have caused extensive plumbing repairs and property damage when the water backs up into the house. You can even buy insulated covers for the water spouts at the hardware store for extra protection.
4. Buy your ice melt NOW. Store it in an ice chest on rollers with a pull handle. Keep a plastic scoop inside the cooler. Now you are ready to roll it out to the drive-way and sidewalk to make quick work protecting yourself from those sudden turns in the NWArk forecast! Be sure to get the Eco pet-safe granules.
5. It is a very good investment to have your lawn irrigation system checked and winterized by a professional. It will save you surprise spring season expenses from freezing water damage. You will also want to have them spread lawn winterizer so your spring grass will be thick and lush. Or you can pick up the lawn winterizer granules at your local lawn and garden center and spread it on your lawn yourself.
6. Also on that note, call in the professionals for that inexpensive maintenance check on your HVAC system in both winter and in spring. Preventative maintenance is our friend! HVAC systems that are maintained last an average of 3-5 years longer than the normal 10-12 years of an unit that has not been maintained.
7. What will help run that HVAC system efficiently and provide good preventative maintenance is changing the return air filters on a regular basis. An easy way to remember used to be every time you paid the monthly utility bills. With the age of on-line and auto-draft payments you will have to set up a monthly reminder in your phone or computer calendar. If you use the more expensive allergen reducing filters you probably won’t need to change them except once per quarter.
8. If you enjoy a wood-burning fireplace in your house then build into your household budget a regular maintenance fee for a chimney sweep service. Many house fires can be avoided by doing this annual check. I’m sure the chimney sweep would appreciate the call in August or September rather than on the day you are tempted to build a fire.
9. Change the batteries in your fire/smoke/carbon monoxide detectors every daylight savings time change. A battery is cheap maintenance compared to the safety of your family.
10. Oh fun! Those wonderful gutters that channel the deluge of water off your entrances also have some trouble spots! Carefully check the gutters for leaves and twigs. When these clog the gutter system, heavy damage can occur and breakdown the whole system. There are many new innovative tools for making that job a lot easier. Check with your hardware store for the one best for you.
Every home is different. It might not be necessary to complete all of these tasks on all homes, and some houses might require additional work to prepare for winter. Think through what needs to be done to your property and make a customized list that you can use year after year.
If you’ve relocated to Northwest Arkansas, hopefully this list will help you remember most of your fall home maintenance tasks. If you live in NWArk, I hope this list serves as a reminder to you that some maintenance is necessary right now. If you have a home currently listed for sale in NWA, but you have already relocated elsewhere, don’t forget to have someone care for the property while you are away. Make sure it has been winterized to avoid unnecessary expenses.