Homeowner's Academy

This is your guide to interesting facts, tips and general homeowner information. We hope you find the information useful - and feel free to share with friends!

Always have a well-maintained home

by BROOKE GOLD HASSON | Oct 23, 2013

iStock_000015069758XSmall-300x201People’s Trust Insurance wants you to always have a well-maintained home.  Not just so it looks great, but so you are your family are well-protected all year long.  Keeping your family healthy and happy is our goal and we know it’s yours too. We know most people associate spring with the perfect time to clean. But actually fall is an important time to take care of many little tasks that can make a big difference in your home as winter approaches. Using these tasks you can save yourself money in the long run, and maybe even your life.

Here’s a list with detailed guidance for each bullet.  If you are unsure of how to take care of an item or need help, hire a professional.

  • Inspect and clean your gutters - Your roof’s drainage system annually diverts thousands of gallons of water from your house’s exterior and foundation walls.  That’s why it is so important to keep this system flowing smoothly. Clogged gutters can lead to damaged exterior surfaces and to water in parts of your home where you don’t want it. They are also more prone to rust and corrosion.
  • Seal it up - Seal gaps and cracks around windows and doors with weather-stripping and caulk. Gaps in caulk and weather-stripping can account for a 10% savings in your heating bills, according to the U.S. Department of Energy.  Weather-stripping is easily the most cost-effective way to rein in heating and cooling costs. This humble material also reduces drafts and keeps your home more comfortable year-round. Because weather stripping can deteriorate over time, it is important to inspect it periodically. While you’re at it, also check for missing or damaged caulk around windows, doors, and entry points for electrical, cable, phone, gas, and so. Seal any gaps with a suitable caulk you can purchase at Home Depot or Lowe's.
  • Roof problems - Inspect your roof for damaged or curled shingles, corroded flashing, or leaky vents. Here’s how: Inspect your roof from top to bottom, using binoculars if necessary. Don’t put yourself into a dangerous situation, hire a professional to climb on your roof - do not climb on your roof yourself. Check ridge shingles for cracks and wind damage. Look for damage to metal flashing in valleys and around vents and chimneys. Scan the entire roof for missing, curled, or damaged shingles. Make sure your gutters are flowing freely.
  • Check your walkway and driveway - Take steps to repair damaged sidewalks, driveways, and steps. Damaged walkways, drives, and steps are a hazard year-round, but their dangers are compounded when the weather turns icy. Fixing problems in the fall is also critical to preventing little problems from becoming expensive headaches. Look for cracks more than 1/8-inch wide, uneven sections, and loose railings on steps. Check for disintegration of asphalt, or washed-out materials on loose-fill paths.
  • Head-off gas problems - Keeping a gas heater in good shape is both a safety and a cost issue. An improperly maintained heater can spew poisons into the air of your home, or it may simply be costing you more to operate. Have a professional check these devices annually. There are also some maintenance items you should address. Here’s how: First, shut off the heater. Then check the air-shutter openings and exhaust vents for dirt and dust. If they are dirty, vacuum the air passages to the burner and clean the burner of lint and dirt. Follow the manufacturer’s advice for any other needed maintenance.
  • Smoke and CO detectors - Replace the batteries in each smoke and carbon monoxide (CO) detector, then vacuum them with a soft brush attachment. Test the detectors by pressing the test button or holding a smoke source (like a blown-out candle) near the unit. If you haven’t already, install a smoke detector on every floor of your home.
  • Fire extinguishers - Every home should have at least one fire extinguisher rated for all fire types (look for an A-B-C rating on the label). At a minimum, keep one near the kitchen - having one per floor isn’t a bad idea. Annually, check the indicator on the pressure gauge to make sure the extinguisher is charged. Make certain that the lock pin is intact and firmly in place, and check that the discharge nozzle is not clogged. Clean the extinguisher and check it for dents, scratches, and corrosion. Replace if the damage seems severe. Note: Fire extinguishers that are more than six years old should be replaced. Mark the date of purchase on the new unit with a permanent marker.
  • General cleanup – Rid your home of accumulations of old newspapers and leftover hazardous household chemicals. (Check with your state or local Environmental Protection Agency about the proper way to discard dangerous chemicals.) Store flammable materials and poisons in approved containers. Keep a clear space around heaters, furnaces, and other heat-producing appliances.

Source: Better Homes & Gardens