I absolutely love this time of year. The brisk morning air, beautiful colors of orange and yellow, and constant additive of pumpkins spice in just about everything! (And I mean everything). Well, who am I kidding…living in Florida this starts around the end of November. But for the rest of you geographically north of me, especially those really north of me, enjoy your view!
Growing up in the Midwest, my Dad always had his fall checklist. It was all the home maintenance projects that needed to be completed before winter—and he loved doing it (or he loved bossing me and my brother to help). No matter where you live, there’s always something to complete in your home because maintenance is a pay me now or pay me a whole lot later” type of concept—in the end you’ll be glad you did it. Ultimately, with the goal of protecting your investment, the payoff for taking time to invest back in your home delivers major rewards. Even if you're renting, you're making an investment in yourself by creating an environment that either exudes organization or perpetuates dysfunction. No really, you're investing in yourself everyday one way or another in how you choose to design your environment. So it starts here—keeping and maintaining the basics.
Checkout this list of tips my father always does this time of year to protect his home investment:
1. Check Smoke Alarms - This should be done regularly to make sure they are working properly. According to the National Fire Protection Association, for fires in which smoke alarms were present but did not operate, almost half were due to missing or disconnected batteries. The best procedure is to test them by pushing the test button on the face of the alarm and when the battery is weak, an audible chirp will be heard every minute or so alerting you to change the battery. Take fast action and don’t wait—it’s not worth it.
2. Install Carbon Monoxide Detectors – if your home uses natural gas for heating, water, drying clothes or cooking, then your home should be equipped with a carbon monoxide (CO) detector. CO is a gas that has no odor or color but it can kill you. 400 Americans die from it each year and thousands are hospitalized. Click here to learn more about its symptoms and the best ways to prevent it in your home. Always test or replace the detector based on the manufacturer’s recommendations. If you need to purchase these items check out the different selections at Home Depot.
3. Buy a Water Alarm - Water alarms are a handy item to place near water-using appliances. They can be placed near the dishwasher, water heater (if it’s inside the home or finished basement), washer or anywhere a water leak could occur. They will alarm when water comes in contact with electrodes on the bottom of the unit. Cost is as little as $10, but could save you thousands in damage from water leaking throughout your home. High tech units can be programmed to call your cell phone.
4. Clean Dryer Vent - Often-overlooked area is the dryer vent. As you use your dryer, the screen is unable to catch the very small lent particles. These lent particles will collect in the ductwork and vent hood, which is located on the wall outside, and clog the vent. A blocked dryer vent can potentially cause a fire, or if it’s a gas dryer, carbon monoxide fumes can be forced back into the home. All of this can be generally avoided by a simple cleaning of the dryer vent.
5. Replace Furnace Filters - these should be changed as often as every month or no later than every three months. If you have allergies or respiratory problems, a clean filter can make a huge difference. Filter manufactures also make special filters for breathing issues. Performing this procedure is very simple if you know which size to purchase and where to install it on your furnace.
6. Keep Toilet Drains Flowing and Clean – if you have a ‘low flow toilet’, (1.28 or 1.6 gpf), then pour a couple gallons of water down the toilet periodically to keep drains flowing. Another option is to switch to thinner toilet paper (I know, this one I struggle with…). To keep your drains smelling clean, use baking soda and vinegar as necessary.
This is by no means is an exhaustive list, but it does contain the basics. It’s important to note, you don’t have to be a home owner to do these tasks. If you’re renting or own your own home, all of these tips apply to you!