. That includes my house. Sometimes, though, it pays to pour a few more dollars and/or hours into it — viewing expenses as an investment. Fall is one of those times.
All it takes is the first cold blast of autumn to remind us that winter is on its way. Who knows what this one will bring, but if your home isn’t ready, the consequences are almost always expensive. These five essential fall maintenance tips will help you avoid them.
Tune up the furnace
– Don’t think a new filter is all it needs. Having a thorough check-up will ensure the electrical components are in good shape, the motor is oiled, the air flow has not diminished, the thermostat is accurate and yes, that the filter is clean! Many HVAC companies offer discounts for these seasonal check-ups, so it would be worth doing a little research. http://www.kcplsave.com/residential/programs_and_services/home_performance_with_energy_star/default.html
Clear the gutters– With everything falling from the trees this time of year, gutters and downspouts can easily clog and contribute to all sorts of problems, everything from roof and soffit decay to serious foundation issues. Do yourself a huge favor and clean them out as often as needed to maintain smooth flow and drainage. Fall rains and winter snow and ice will cause problems if they have nowhere to go. http://www.realtor.com/home-garden/home-maintenance/fall-maintenance/gutters.aspx
Weatherproof windows and doors
– Unless yours are brand-new, it’s a good bet your windows and doors are letting cold air in and forcing your furnace to work harder. That means you’re paying more to heat your home. Inspect all your windows and exterior doorways. Sometimes you can see the gaps. On a windy day, hold a lighted candle next to a closed window or door to identify air leaks. Swing by the hardware store and you’ll find all sorts of weather-stripping options that will pay for them many times over.
Get the water out
– Once your fall watering needs are finished, be sure to disconnect any hoses you have from the outside spigots. Then go to your basement and find the shutoff valve for each outside spigot. Turn them all the way to the right, and then open the spigots to allow any remaining water to flow out. This will prevent those pipes from freezing and potentially bursting – a very costly and messy problem no one wants to deal with, especially in winter.
Prepare your power tools
– Any gasoline-powered mower, tractor, trimmer or chainsaw should be properly put to bed for its winter hibernation. If possible, burn every last drop of gas out of it; if not, put fuel stabilizer in whatever fuel is left in the tank. Otherwise, fuel deposits can foul the engine, repairs for which can often cost as much as a new unit.
I know, it’s only early September. Technically, its still summer! But that leaves you several weeks to space out these projects on your calendar and your budget. There’s no need to do them all at once, but once they’re complete, your home will be ready for whatever fall and winter have in store.
Kat's Money Corner is posted on Dollars Sense every Tuesday. Kat Hnatyshyn, when not blogging or caring for her little one, is a manager with CommunityAmerica Credit Union. For more financial chatter, click http://twitter.com/savinmavens.