It’s like clockwork: The weather changes to cool and wet and a flood of calls ensues. Furnaces are on the fritz, drains are clogged and the drip drip drip of a mystery leak threatens to push an otherwise calm and collected homeowner to the brink.
It’s definitely autumn, so it’s time to arm yourself against the onslaught. Consider these steps that you may want to tackle over the next few weeks:
Schedule a tune-up of your furnace or boiler. You need a whole season’s worth of action out of them, so make sure they’re running well and have new filters as needed.
Check weatherstripping around all your doors. If you can see daylight from the inside, you either need to adjust or replace the weatherstripping.
Take a nice walk all the way around the outside of your home, and look carefully at every last inch of siding, windows and wood trim. We’ve visited several homes in the last month where a quick walk outside revealed dry-rotted window trim and sills, delaminating window sashes and a lack of flashing at critical places in the building envelope. These are the places that water considers an invitation to come inside, and once water makes it past your building envelope, it can cause dry rot, dampen insulation and fuel mold growth. If you’re not sure how bad it is, take a photo and email us so that we can take a look.
Find all your hose bibbs. If they’re not frost-free, this is a good time to cover them so that they don’t freeze. If you’d like a long-term maintenance solution for this, you can replace the old-school hose bibbs with frost-free ones for a relatively small investment.
Look under your deck and at visible post bases for signs of rot. Deteriorating posts can cause your deck to sink, sometimes dangerously. Railing posts can pose a problem too, particularly if they are installed on an impervious surface, like a roof over living space. Make repairs before you find a leak inside your home.
Check for wood-dirt contact. The rule of thumb is that there should be 6” of vertical space between wood on your home and the dirt below. If you have buried siding or framing, dig down at least until the wood is no longer touching dirt. Any non-pressure-treated wood that has continuous contact with dirt will eventually rot because of water wicking from dirt into the wood. The same thing can happen at connections between dormers and roof where siding touches the roofing below.
Snake those drains. Finally, make sure all exterior drains are working well. In many homes, gutters drain into downspouts and tightlines which drain to the sewer or the street. If the tightlines are clogged, that can cause water to pool and drain alongside your foundation, which can lead to water problems in your basement. Gutters and exterior drains, like ones at the entrance to a garage, can also become blocked by silt and debris, causing a backup. Best bet is to have the drains snaked and gutters completely cleared before there’s a problem.
And don’t forget your flashlight. Keeping a stock of batteries just in case is good practice, since you never know when the power might go out.