Fall is a good time to examine your property and repair those maintenance problems.
- be sure outdoor lighting is adequate
- clean areas which could cause a slip and fall during winter months
- repair porches and steps
- put summer items away from porches and lawns so that someone won’t trip and fall
- have a sand supply ready for the soon to be icy walks and driveways
- clean out gutters of leaves and debris
- check roof shingles to be sure they are in good condition for wind, ice and snow
- check windows for deteriorated sills and putty to prevent water damage to walls and ceilings
- take a look at large trees on your property and remove trees and limbs which have rotted and could fall on your property in winter storms and icy conditions.
Winter is far from over in Texas and cold weather calamities can wreak havoc to your home. It’s important to keep your home protected from damage that freezing weather can cause. We’ve provided some tips of how your pipes can be affected by the debacles of winter weather and what you can do to avoid any problems.
Frozen Pipes – About a quarter-million families each year have their homes ruined because of water pipes that freeze pumping thousands of gallons of water into their homes destroying carpet and furniture. An eighth-inch crack in a pipe can result in 250 gallons of water a day being pumped in your home. In many cases people must move out of their home while repairs are being made.
Here are some other things you can do to protect your home:
- Insulate pipes in the crawl spaces and attic and check them for cracks and leaks. Have any cracks or leaks repaired. These exposed pipes are the most vulnerable to freezing.
- Disconnect garden hoses to reduce the chance that the short span of pipe outside will freeze.
- Let indoor and outdoor faucets drip during cold snaps.
- Heat tape of thermostatically controlled heat cables can be used to wrap pipes. Be sure these products are approved by an independent testing laboratory.
- If you are going to be away from home, set the thermostat in your home no lower than 65 degrees and ask a neighbor to check your home daily.
- Open cabinet doors to allow heat to get to uninsulated pipes under sinks and appliances near exterior walls.
- An emergency pressure release valve in your plumbing system is a top form of flood prevention. This type of valve automatically shuts off water when pressure is detected. Year round it not only protects from freezing pipes, it also protects pipes if a water appliance malfunctions.
Furnace Maintenance – You want to make sure you have heat when you need it. Seasonal furnace maintenance is essential to make sure your furnace is running efficiently and safely.
- Test heating system – turn the thermostat to heat mode and set it to 82 degrees just for testing. The furnace should turn on and warm air should blow through the vents. If running ok, turn your thermostat back to its normal setting. It the test fails you may need to contact your qualified service technician.
- Be sure to protect your family by testing for Carbon Monoxide leaks, this silent killer can easily be detected with either a test badge or battery operated alarm.
Fireplaces – Time to prepare for cozying up to that warm fire! With cooler weather approaching it won’t be long before it’s time to cozy up to a warm fire in your fireplace or woodstove. So now is the time to prepare your fireplace or woodstove for those chili days and nights.
- clean or have your chimney cleaned and make sure to check that the chimney is clear of any nests from birds, squirrels or other animals.
- clean out your woodstove
- remove clutter which may have accumulated on or near the stove or fireplace
- Examine the outer mortar between bricks or stone to make sure it is intact. Shine a flashlight down the chimney to look at the mortar inside. If the mortar is crumbling, it must be replaced. Look for cracked tile liners or missing bricks and have repaired immediately.
- be sure chimney bricks and mortar are in good condition
- Inspect for Formation of Creosote – Creosote is a flammable substance that is hard, dark, and crust like. It is produced during incomplete combustion of wood. An accumulation of creosote can cause a dangerous chimney fire, so it must be removed. You can minimize creosote by burning dry hardwoods, since their lower moisture content promotes more complete burning. A hot fire produces less creosote than smoldering woods. Increase the air supply if necessary so that wood burns more completely.
- Check chimney draft to make sure the chimney will draw up the fire and smoke properly. (Note: can test this by lighting newspaper to make sure smoke will rise up the chimney).