Fall home performance checklist

 

This has to be one of the best times of year. The summer heat has passed, and winter weather hasn’t come...yet. It’s the right time to do some basic home maintenance to get ready for the months ahead. Here are the items at the top of our list to prevent costly repairs this winter and get reliable, energy efficient performance from the systems in your home.

 

Please peruse our list for home maintenance this fall and click here for a checklist you could print and use as you walk around your home.

 
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HOME HEATING SYSTEMS

  • Replace your air filter. It’s important to replace the filter in your furnace or heat pump. Furnace filters with a Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value (MERV) rating of 13-16 will reduce indoor particulars as much as 95%. If you have a heat pump or ductless heat pump, we recommend a two stage catechin filter, which traps particulates as well as germs, bacteria, and viruses in your home.

  • Schedule regular maintenance for your heating system. Think about your car - When you change the oil regularly, your car performs better and lasts longer. In the same way, regular maintenance on your HVAC system helps it to perform better and last longer. Your fall maintenance appointment is also a great time to identify minor problems before they turn into costly repairs.

  • Program the thermostat. If you have a gas furnace, be sure to program the thermostat so that it automatically turns down the heat at night and when you’re away from home. Using a programmable thermostat saves about $180 a year in energy costs (Source: ENERGY STAR).

  • Consider cleaning your ducts. Clean your ducts to improve the efficiency of your heating system and provide relief to those with respiratory problems. We recommend Better Air NW for duct cleaning: 503.208.8351.

IN YOUR ATTIC

  • Look for signs of animal activity. Check bird and rodent screens for attic vents, and look for missing or torn insulation, which could be a sign of animal activity.

  • Check for leaks. Look around the attic space during daylight hours, with the lights turned off. Look for holes in the roofing that let light in. Feel around insulation for damp spots where leaks might be occurring. Look at ceilings for stains, which could indicate a roof or plumbing leak.

  • Clear debris from vents. Be sure ridge vents and vents at eaves are free of plants and other debris.

PLUMBING

  • Drain the water heater: Drain your water heater to remove sediment that has settled to the bottom. Sometimes leaks in faucets are caused by hard water wearing out the washers. First turn off the water heater, then force out sediment using a pump and a garden hose until the water runs clear.

  • Check for leaks and signs of corrosion. Look for signs of leaks in all exposed pipes and in areas where pipes run through the walls or foundation. Look for signs of corrosion, which could indicate a problem with the water or with the pipe itself. Watch for green stains around brass and copper fittings and on shutoff valves, a sign of either corrosion or electrolysis caused by mismatched metals. This will cause leaks and bad connections if left uncorrected.

GUTTERS AND DOWNSPOUTS

  • Keep gutters and downspouts clear. Clean your gutters and downspouts frequently throughout fall to prevent the build up of leaves and other debris. Be sure water is not coming down behind gutters and that all support brackets are securely in place. Neglected gutters can lead to wood rot and water damage to your foundation.

  • Look for pooling water. Ensure that water drains properly and doesn’t pool. If downspouts don't direct water at least 10 feet from your foundation, add an extender to keep moisture from welling up in your basement. Pooling can cause damage to foundations, driveways, and walkways.

EXTERIOR

  • Inspect your siding. Take note of where paint is peeling, brick mortar is missing, or stucco is cracking on the house's siding. Look for stains on the siding, which could be a sign of a water problem or a roof issue.

  • Pay attention to the foundation. Examine the foundation for cracks and bulges.

  • Look at windows and doors: Are any window or door frames loose or damaged? What about damage to the weather stripping or caulking?

  • Check out the roof. Are there cracks, missing shingles, crumbling pieces? Check asphalt for dry, blistering, alligatoring, or curling shingles; wood for rot and splits; slate and tile for broken pieces; and flat roofs for holes. Be especially vigilant under trees, where falling branches or jumping animals could have done damage. Look for moss and other debris.

 
Bill Hoelzer