Hamilton Herald Masthead


Front Page - Friday, November 2, 2018

Around-the-house checklist for fall

With cooler temperatures finally here, it’s time to pull out the flannel shirts and tackle a few simple household chores to make winter more pleasant and prevent nasty surprises next spring.

Not sure where to start? Here’s a quick checklist from the National Association of Realtors.

Clean and stow your mower

During the winter, your mower sits for months with gas in its tank. The gas will slowly deteriorate, which can damage engine parts. Add fuel stabilizer to your gasoline to keep spare gas from degrading and in good condition over the winter. Top off your mower tank with stabilized gas before you put it away for the winter, then run the mower for five minutes to make sure the stabilizer reaches the carburetor.

Remove garden hoses from faucets

Removing garden hoses from faucets prevents water from backing up in the faucets and plumbing pipes just inside your exterior walls. If freezing temperatures hit, that water could freeze, expand and crack the faucet or pipes.

Make this an early fall priority so a sudden cold snap doesn’t sneak up and cause damage. Turn off any shutoff valves on water supply lines that lead to exterior faucets. That way, you’ll guard against minor leaks that might let water enter the faucet. While you’re at it, drain garden hoses and store them in a shed or garage.

Drain your sprinkler system

Even buried irrigation lines can freeze, leading to busted pipes and broken sprinkler heads. Turn off the water to the system at the main valve. Shut off the automatic controller. Open drain valves to remove water from the system. Remove any above-ground sprinkler heads, shake the water out of them and then replace. If you don’t have drain valves, then hire an irrigation professional to blow out the system’s pipes with compressed air.

Seal air leaks

Grab a couple of tubes of color-matched exterior caulk and make a journey around your home’s exterior, sealing up cracks between trim and siding, around window and door frames and where pipes and wires enter your house. Preventing moisture from getting inside your walls is one of the least expensive and most important of your fall maintenance jobs. You’ll also seal air leaks that waste energy.

De-gunk your gutters

After the leaves have fallen, clean your gutters to remove leaves, twigs and gunk. Make sure gutters aren’t sagging and trapping water and tighten gutter hangers and downspout brackets. Replace any worn or damaged gutters and downspouts.

If you find colored grit from asphalt roof shingles in your gutters – beware. That sand-like grit helps protect shingles from the damaging ultraviolet rays of the sun.

Look closely for other signs of roof damage and determine whether it’s time for a new roof. Evaluate your downspouts, which should extend at least five feet away from your house to prevent foundation problems. If they don’t, add downspout extensions.

Eyeball your roof

If you have a steep roof or a multistory house, stay safe and use binoculars to inspect your roof from the ground. Look for warning signs, such as shingles that are buckled, cracked, or missing and rust spots on flashing.

Replace any loose, damaged, or missing shingles immediately. Black algae stains are just cosmetic, but masses of moss and lichen could signal roofing that’s decayed underneath.

Call in a professional roofer for an evaluation. A plumbing vent stack usually is flashed with a rubber collar called a boot that might crack or loosen over time. They’ll wear out before your roof does, so make sure they’re in good shape.

Direct your drainage

Take a close look at the soil around your foundation and make sure it slopes away from your house at least six vertical inches over 10 feet. That way, you’ll keep water from soaking the soils around your foundation, which could lead to cracks and leaks. Be sure soil doesn’t touch your siding.

Check your furnace

Schedule an appointment with a heating and cooling professional to get your heating system checked and tuned up for the coming heating season. An annual maintenance contract ensures you’re at the top of the list for checks and shaves 20 percent off the cost of a visit.

Change your furnace filters, too. This is a job you should do every two months anyway, but if you haven’t, now’s the time. If your HVAC includes a built-in humidifier, make sure the contractor replaces that filter.

Prune plants

Late fall, when the summer growth cycle is over, is the best time to prune plants and trees. Your goal is to keep limbs and branches at least three feet from your house so moisture won’t drip onto roofing and siding, and to prevent damage to your house exterior during high winds.

Give your fireplace a once-over

To make sure your fireplace is safe, grab a flashlight and look up your fireplace flue to make sure the damper opens and closes properly. Open the damper and look into the flue to make sure it’s free of birds’ nests, branches and leaves and other obstructions.

You should see daylight at the top of the chimney. Check the firebox for cracked or missing bricks and mortar. If you spot any damage, order a professional fireplace and chimney inspection. Your fireplace flue should be cleaned of creosote buildup every other year.

With these preventative maintenance tips, you can enjoy the fall and winter without stressing about additional repairs when spring arrives. If you need guidance on various providers to help you tackle these chores, contact a Realtor for their suggested providers.

Greater Chattanooga Realtors is “The Voice for Real Estate in Greater Chattanooga.” A regional organization with more than 2,000 members, Greater Chattanooga Realtors is one of some 1,300 local boards and associations of Realtors nationwide that comprise the National Association of Realtors. Greater Chattanooga Realtors services Hamilton and Sequatchie counties in southeast Tennessee and Catoosa, Dade and Walker counties in northwest Georgia. More information: www.gcar.net or 423 698-8001.