Homeowner’s fall & winter maintenance checklist

The best way to avoid expensive home repairs is to consistently keep up with home maintenance. Check the items below that apply to your home and locale!

Tune up your furnace. Hire an HVAC professional and make sure everything’s checked–filters, chimney exhaust, blower, fuel connections; the works. Inspect furnace filters monthly and change when dirty. Install a programmable thermostat to save on energy bills, but if you have a heat pump, be sure the thermostat has been especially designed for that system.

Shut down the evaporative cooler. If you use an evaporative (swamp) cooler for air conditioning, turn off the water supply, drain the lines so they don’t freeze, clean mineral buildup in the tank with vinegar and a brush, and unplug the pump. Put a plastic or canvas cover over the cooler and attach it with bungee cords.

Close the storm windows. Check that the outer pane is up and the inner one down and that both are sealed against the frame.

Insulate a whole-house fan. If you use one to cool your home in summer, close it up with an insulated box or cover for the winter. This prevents heated air from entering the attic, which can create moisture, causing mold and stains on the ceiling below. You can make a foam box yourself using duct tape, weather-stripping, and 2-inch-thick polystyrene foam.

Test the sump pump. If you use one to get water out of your basement, check to see if it’s working. If it has a float valve, raise the valve to see if it turns on. If it’s water-activated, run water from a hose into the sump to see if it works. For problems, check connections, reset button, and circuit breaker before you call in a plumber or electrician.

Inspect the roof. Look at roof shingles as well as the flashing around chimneys and vents. You may have to call in a roofing contractor to seal gaps and replace shingles. Also, if your area gets a lot of moisture and moss forms on the roof, treat it with moss-killing liquids or granules. Be sure to get the moss killers for roofs and not lawns and follow directions.

Clean the gutters. Leaves and other debris left in your gutters can damage them and push freezing water under roof shingles. Dirt can even collect in covered gutters, so lift covers and clean them too.

Weather-strip and caulk. Look around the house outside and caulk any gaps where window, door, and corner trim meets siding. Remove and replace any old weather-stripping around doors and windows.

Put away the lawn and garden equipment. In cooler climates, put away garden tools, hoses, nozzles, and patio furniture you won’t be using till the spring, so they’re not damaged by snow and ice. Run the lawn mower until the gas tank is empty.

Winterize lawn sprinkler systems and disconnect hoses. If the temperature goes below freezing in your area, water left in hoses or pipes can freeze and burst them. Drain water from lawn irrigation systems, which may have to be done by a professional. If outside faucets are not self-draining, turn off water at the shutoff valve inside.

Prune trees. Once leaves are gone, cut back trees or bushes near the house where snow may cause branches to rub against the roof or siding.

Cover an outside AC unit. If it’s under trees or roof runoff, put a plywood sheet and drop cloth over it. Don’t seal off the unit, which traps moisture and creates a nice little home for rodents.

Check drainage around the house. Where ground meets foundation, make sure soil isn’t touching any siding and that it slopes away, dropping 6 inches in the first 10 feet. If you have a surface or sub-surface drainage system, check for blockage if you see pooling water when it rains. Remove debris or call a landscape contractor for repairs.

Spend a weekend or two checking up on these items and you’ll save energy and catch problems before they cost a ton of money to fix. Good luck! As always, please feel free to contact us at any time about any matters relating to home financing or refinancing.

About Max Leaman Austin Mortgage

GREAT RATES, LOW FEES, CLOSE ON TIME™ ---- 2012 Ranked #1 Austin Residential Mortgage Lender (Austin Business Journal) 2010, 2011 & 2012 Five Star Professional (Texas Monthly) 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013 PrimeLending Chairman's Circle Award 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012 Scotsman Guide Top Originator (Top 200 Mortgage Professionals in U.S.A.) Better Business Bureau "A+ Rating" National Lender Rankings (Scotsman Guide): Top Purchase Volume (No. 10) Most Loans Closed (No. 32) Top Dollar Volume (No. 88)

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