Most people know about spring cleaning and have a list of things they do to summarize their homes, but how about using the chance this fall to do some things around the house that can help you in the long run when and if you chose to sell your home. This is a great time to make a reminder for yourself to do some safety checks and to finish that home preventative maintenance chores to do list.
1. Smoke alarms save lives
Fall and winter see an increase in home fires, according to the American Red Cross, and faulty smoke alarms were to blame for more than 20 percent of home fire deaths. Sadly, nearly 40 percent of the deaths occurred in homes that did not have smoke alarms, according to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA). If you have smoke alarms in the home, now is the time to check that they’re working properly and add this to your "to do" list of fall home preventative maintenance chores. Change the batteries if you can’t remember when they were last changed. Also, ensure that you have enough smoke alarms in the home. They should be installed outside of each bedroom and on all levels of the home. “If you and your family sleep with the doors closed, install smoke alarms inside sleeping areas, too,” suggests the NFPA. Some safety suggestions include:
If you have smoke alarms in the home, now is the time to check that they’re working properly by changing the batteries especially if you can’t remember when they were last changed. Also, ensure that you have enough smoke alarms in the home. They should be installed outside of each bedroom and on all levels of the home. “If you and your family sleep with the doors closed, install smoke alarms inside sleeping areas, too,” suggests the NFPA. Some safety suggestions include:
- Connect all your alarms together so that when one signals, they all do
- Replace your alarm every 10 years and mark on your smoke detector the date that it was installed to reference at a later date
- Make sure to either get a photoelectric or ionization type alarm.
According to PropertyValueation.net, in tests, ionization alarms will typically respond about 30 to 90 seconds faster to “fast-flame” fires than photoelectric smoke alarms. However, in smoldering fires ionization alarms respond an average of 15 to 50 minutes slower than photoelectric alarms. Several studies indicate that they will outright fail to activate up to 20-25% of the time. The vast majority of residential fire fatalities are due to smoke inhalation, not from the actual flames and almost two-thirds of fire fatalities occur at night while we sleep.
If you live in the Birmingham city limits you can request an alarm from the Birmingham Fire Department to make sure you get the right one.
2. Carbon monoxide is your home at risk
Similarly to a smoke detector, carbon Carbon monoxide a hazard many houses are not monitoring. Adding this concern to your fall preventative maintenance chores checklist will save you any a headache down the road during a home inspection.
Carbon monoxide is produced by devices that burn fuels. Therefore, any fuel-burning appliance in your home is a potential CO source, according to the CDC. If you are searching for homes in the greater Birmingham metro, you encounter many homes with gas heat, gas stoves, and ventless fireplaces. These gas features are desired by many buyers, but it is important to take precautions with the associated risks.
Although not allowed in some states, if you are looking for a home in the greater Birmingham Metro, you will see ventless fireplaces as a common feature. Ventless fireplaces can also emit carbon dioxide into the living space. Most vent-free manufacturers install an oxygen-detection sensor designed to automatically shut the fireplace down if oxygen levels in the home become too low. A lot is riding on that sensor working, so it would make sense to add this to your list of fall home preventative maintenance chores, Birmingham. NACHI recommends having the unit inspected before use for safety defects.
Another step that can be taken is to install a combined smoke and carbon dioxide detector. Locations of Carbon Monoxide Detectors in the Home:
- 10 -15 feet from garage
- 10- 15 feet from fireplace
- on each level of the home
- outside the bedrooms
3. Check your home's energy efficiency
Windows and doors are notoriously leaky, allowing our toasty indoor air out and that frosty stuff in. Not only is this tough on your utility bills but uncomfortable for the occupants of your home as well. Your home leaks energy through various sources. While weather-stripping is the way to stop the leaks, it will likely not be the cure-all for energy loss, especially in the winter. It may be time to get an energy audit of your home and there are companies in Birmingham that can do that for you.
Eco-three, located in downtown Birmingham and on Alabama's Gulf coast, can help. I learned of Eco-three's work from a client who had their home audited in Forest Park. Older homes are notorious for high energy bills and drafty windows. After they had Eco-three out for an energy audit they followed their recommendations and saved on their energy bills and blocked unwanted outside noises and pollutants from their from their interior space. Interestingly the husband worked for a utility company, so he must have known a thing or two.
If you chose not to go through an audit, changing out old windows or weather stripping doors and windows will certainly have an impact. If you can see daylight around the door frames and windows, it's time to weatherstrip. It’s an easy DIY project and Sal Vaglica of This Old House offers a handy walkthrough of how to choose the right product and you can get tips on installing weather stripping from the U.S. Department of Energy. Yes, it’s a bit of a time-consuming task, but one well worth performing. Replacing worn-out weather-stripping can save 10 to 15 percent on your energy bills this winter and will be the cheapest of the fall home preventative maintenance chores you can do this fall.
3. Get a tune-up
If you don't have your HVAC on your list for fall home preventative maintenance chores, Birmingham, you may see that day you will regret it. HVAC systems (heating, ventilation and air conditioning) last from 15 to 20 years, if properly maintained. Components within the system, however, have shorter life spans, according to the experts at ThisOldHouse.com. The heat pump, for instance, will die at around 16 years after installation. Since we’re entering into that time of year when our heating systems will start getting heavy use, call in a professional to inspect and clean yours. Forced air systems require seasonal home preventative maintenance chores as well. At the very least, stock up on filters and change them monthly during fall and winter.
The heat pump, for instance, will die at around 16 years after installation. Since we’re entering into that time of year when our heating systems will start getting heavy use, call in a professional to inspect and clean yours. Forced air systems require seasonal home preventative maintenance chores as well. At the very least, stock up on filters and change them monthly during fall and winter. Keeping up with your maintenance schedule and documentation can help you when you decide to sell your home down the road.
4. Don’t forget the home’s exterior
Step outside and inspect the exterior home from top to bottom.
- Check the gutters and if they’re clogged, clean them out and then check for leaks. Ensure that the downspouts are still directing water away from the home.
- If you have siding, check to see if it needs caulking.
- Check the siding and caulk it, if needed. Also check the exterior corners, where two walls meet. Caulk there as well, if needed.
- If you’ve been putting off blowing out the irrigation system, consider doing it soon and then wrap the pipes.
- Check trees around the house and trim back any branches that might break during heavy winds.
- Since you will likely not want to be out in the cold the day before a freeze, consider insulating your pipes now, to protect them should freezing weather hit us.
Of course, there are lots more you can add to your fall home preventative maintenance chores honey-do list, but these tasks will get you started and ensure that your home is safe and sealed from the elements.
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