Fall Maintenance Tips For Your Home
Call a Chimney Sweep
Have a professional clean the chimney, hearth, and firebox because a build-up of combustible creosote is a fire danger. If you use your fireplace regularly during the winter have it cleaned annually. If used only a few times each year have it inspected every couple of years and cleaned when necessary.
Check Out Storm Doors and Windows
Wash and replace window screens with storm windows and replace door screens with glass panels. Over the years the screws that hold the clips tight in the door begin to wear and will not stay tight so the screen and storm panels rattle. To solve the problem replace a worn clip and screw with a 3/4-inch long #8 panhead sheet metal screw and a large washer. Drill a 1/16-inch hole in the frame next to the worn clip and use a pair of pliers to bend the washer slightly in its center so it forms a shallow V. With the washer in a V shape one edge is pushed toward the panel when the sheet metal screw is tightened. Drill a pilot hole for the sheet metal screw in the edge of the door close to the old screw, put the washer on the screw with the V facing toward the door, and tighten the screw. Do this in several areas around the panel.
Caulk and Weatherstrip Now
Take a walk around the house looking for worn and damaged caulk and weatherstripping. Caulk is a flexible sealant that fills cracks and gaps in all the joints of a house, but it eventually dries out, especially around walls, windows, and doors with a southern exposure. Caulk should be applied around the frames of doors and windows where they meet siding, between the foundation and siding, at cracks in bricks, or wherever masonry meets wood.
Weatherstripping is a material that seals openings in a house. It is applied around a window or door jamb or at its threshold. It is installed so it forms a tight seal at the opening, creating a gasket so it doesn't leak air and energy dollars. The material can be vinyl, rubber, metal, foam, wood, or a combination of them.
Caulk is sold in a cartridge that fits into a half-barrel caulk gun. To apply, clean the joint or crack by removing the old caulk and remove the dirt with an old paintbrush. Wipe it clean with a damp rag and let it dry. Cut the caulk tube's nozzle with a utility knife at a 45-degree angle. To operate the gun pull the handle all the way back so the nozzle faces opposite the handle. Then turn the handle so that the notches in the plunger face down. Pull the trigger until you feel resistance. Place the nozzle of the cartridge in the crack and squeeze the trigger of the gun while pushing the tube away from you to fill the gap with caulk. When you reach the end of the caulk or joint turn the handle of the gun so that the notches on the plunger face up in order to release pressure in the tube and to stop the caulk. Run your index finger over the bead of caulk to straighten it out. Wet your finger with water if you are using latex caulk; use mineral spirits if you are using another type.
Weatherstripping is not hard to install. Rubber, vinyl, wood, and metal weatherstripping can be cut to size with a shears or knife and then installed with the fasteners supplied by the manufacturer. Foam and V-seal vinyl weatherstripping has a pressure sensitive adhesive backing so it's a press-in-place material. When replacing worn weatherstripping with new, remove the old material and thoroughly scrape and clean the surface for good adhesion.
Service Your Heating System
Have your furnace cleaned and serviced by a professional to guarantee there are no leaks and that the burner is operating efficiently. During the heating season use a vacuum cleaner's crevice tool to clean the air grills to make sure they're not clogged.
Stock up on furnace filters so you are ready for the heating season. Change the filter monthly for greatest furnace efficiency.
If you have a hot-water system with radiators or baseboard convectors, bleed the air from the system so hot water can fill all the chambers. Use a coffee can to catch the water runoff. Turn the bleed valve with a radiator key or screwdriver. When the air stops hissing and water runs out, close the valve.