As the warm days of summer give way to the frosty nights of autumn, it’s time for homeowners to complete some basic summer clean-up and fall preparation. While home-related accidents or damage can happen any time, fall and winter present special challenges from the elements—particularly wind, water, cold and fire
Below, we’ve gathered our most helpful tips for homeowners who want to prepare for the season.
Beware of the Hazards Lurking in Your Yard
When it comes to spotting the potential hazards outside your house, one of the best things you can do is walk your property with an eye toward the season ahead.
-You may assume more wind damage happens in the spring and summer with tornadoes and storms. But in any given year, 45 to 75 percent of Westfield’s wind claims occur between September and November, during hurricane season. Flying tree limbs cause much of this damage. Trim away any dead limbs hanging from trees, or any large limbs close to the house. If the limbs are too large or too high for you to safely deal with, call a professional (such as an arborist).
-As beautiful as that fall foliage is, once it covers your yard and your walkway, it can become a hazard. Wet leaves are slippery, and can cause you or someone on your property to slip. Make sure to rake frequently.
-Finally, bring attention to all those wonderful sources of summer recreation. Close up your pool. Make sure the trampoline is secured (high winds can easily lift a trampoline and blow into the house or another yard). Inspect any hammocks, especially those tied to trees.
Prevent Water Damage
Here are a few simple ways to be proactive about water in and around your home:
-If you have an older home, your sewer pipes may be made of terra cotta, a material susceptible to tree roots. If you have certain kinds of trees planted (especially maple), the tree roots can grow into the pipes and cause sewer pipe back-ups in your basement. Have a plumber or tree root specialist inspect, and consider flushing a cup of rock salt down the toilet every few months (rock salt can slow the growth of roots).
-Clean the gutters frequently in the fall, especially as the leaves are falling. Clogged gutters can’t do their job of keeping water away from your house.
-Before cold weather sets in, have your roof inspected for missing shingles and potential leaks.
Get Your Home Ready for Winter
While the fall temperatures are still mild, take the time to prepare for colder ones ahead.
-As you prepare to switch from air conditioning to heat, make sure to schedule a service for your furnace or boiler (if it hasn’t yet been serviced this year).
-Change your furnace filter.
-Prevent heat loss by installing weather stripping around your doors and windows.
-Check your water pipes to make sure they won’t be exposed to freezing temperatures.
Inspect Chimney, Utilities and Indoor Spaces for Fire Hazards
House fires are tragic—though a great majority are preventable. The change in temperature is a good opportunity to review basic fire safety and make sure your home is as fire-proof as possible.
-Change the batteries in your smoke detectors.
-Chimney fires account for 75 percent of all home-heating fires. A chimney that is dirty or in disrepair is a dangerous one. Make sure to have your chimney inspected by a professional.
-Utilities like the clothes dryer can start house fires too. If you haven’t recently, clean the lint trap in your dryer. Also, clean the exhaust vent and space under and behind the dryer. One sign that it’s time to do this is if your clothes are taking longer and longer to dry. A blocked vent could also make your laundry room feel unusually hot and humid (because the hot air isn’t venting properly) or smell musty.
-As you’re storing the lawnmower and putting away outdoor furniture and other seasonal decor in the garage or shed, take the opportunity to check around these areas for fire hazards. Look out for oily rags or volatile compounds such as paint or caulk. Make sure to safely store the gasoline from the mower.
By executing these simple steps, your home will be prepared for a cozy fall.