The leaves are turning, the pumpkins are carved, the cider is pouring and the cool smell of Fall is in the air. It’s a glorious time of year as Americans in most areas of the country prepare for the bitter cold and heavy snow that comes with winter.
While the allure of the corn mazes is hard to pass up, homeowners who don’t use part of the Fall season to prepare their home for the upcoming winter months are asking for big trouble that may cost big dollars. There’s a lot you could do to your home during this time but there are some chores that you must do before the snow arrives. Luckily, it won’t cost you a lot more than your time.
Insulate the Pipes
Insulating your pipes will cost you next to nothing but the money you could save is huge. When the weather turns cold, pipes, especially those on exterior walls, can freeze. If they break, the resulting flood could cost tens of thousands of dollars to repair. Pipe insulation is available in bulk from plumbing supply stores as well as home improvement centers. Your priority should be the exterior walls but there’s no harm in insulating others as well.
Seal the Windows and Doors
A $5 tube of caulk could save you as much as $200 annually. The average homeowner pays 10% more than they should for heat and air conditioning because of leaky windows. Take a stick of incense and move it around the perimeter of all windows and doors looking for air that’s sneaking in. On the windows, go to work with the caulk. For the doors, purchase a sealing kit or other one of those infomercial contraptions that slide on to the bottom of your door.
Protect the Gutters
Professionally installed gutter guards are expensive but you can purchase do it yourself models for as little as 50 cents per foot. Clogged gutters can not only damage your roof but the weight of clogged gutters may cause them to pull away from your roof. If the gutter falls down, it will need replaced. If you can’t afford gutter guards, make sure your gutters are free of debris and free flowing before the first snow.
You’ve probably received one of those advertisements in the mail offering to come out and inspect your furnace for a low price. If you threw it away, dig it back out because it’s a good idea to have your furnace checked and serviced once per year.
Not only will they check for dangerous leaks but finding a problem during an inspection is much better than having to call at midnight on a Saturday when it’s snowing. Many heating and air conditioning companies have yearly maintenance plans where they inspect your furnace in the fall and your air conditioner in the Spring. It’s money well spent as long as its from a company you trust.
Here’s a cost cutting tip. If you have a few trees you know that one of worst parts of Fall is cleaning up the leaves. Instead of buying the cheap leaf blower that you’ll use once or twice a year, the tarps, and the rakes, make it a neighborhood event. Rent a few high powered blowers, get some people together and knock out a few lawns over the course of a weekend. It’s cheaper and far more fun.
It’s easy to think that because everything in your home is working as it should, there’s no need to do anything with it. That’s a dangerous and expensive chance to take. A few hours and a few dollars now saves you from future headaches.
(Photo: lidarose )