September 26, 2017
Let’s talk maintenance! Temperatures dropping are a sign to get your house in order before winter, or small problems can turn into big, expensive nightmares. We pulled some of the top tips that can save you headache, heartache and money this winter, by performing seven fall chores we should never ignore!
Clear Gutter Clogs
Water where you don’t want it is homeowner enemy number one. So, clean out gutters stuffed with leaves, pine needles, and other debris that lets water spill over the edge, pool around your home’s foundation and seep inside. Water that freezes in the gutters can force snow and ice into the roof shingles, causing damage and leaks.
Solution: Get a gutter-guard system to keep leaves out and let water in. Make sure that gutter drains extend five feet from your house—and that the soil in your yard slopes away from the foundation — one inch per foot for six feet or more.
Savings: It costs about $300 a year for a pro to clean gutters in the fall and spring. You don’t have to pay for gutter maintenance, it’s not a difficult chore, but it does avoid the risk of falling if you do the job yourself.
Oh, Those Hoses!
Pipes can burst whenever water inside them freezes and expands, creating an expensive sloppy mess inside your home.
Solution: Shut off inside valves that control water flow to your hose spigots. Then briefly open the spigots to drain any leftover water in pipes and hoses. Then drain water from supply lines for water sprinklers, and shut off inside valves that control them. To help prevent freezing, insulate the water pipes in exposed or unheated areas.
Savings: Plumbing repairs and water damage can run thousands of dollars, especially if pipes burst and cause a flood while you’re away.
Siding is vulnerable to water infiltration where it butts against windows, doors and corner moldings. Look for cracked boards and trim and caulk that has cracked due to age and extreme weather or has pulled away from adjacent surfaces, leaving gaps.
Solution: Reapply a color-matched exterior caulk during dry days when temperatures are over 65 degrees for best results. The sooner you make repairs the better you protect your home from moisture infiltration that can lead to dry rot.
Repairs to wood, vinyl, and fiber-cement siding require the expertise to remove the damaged siding while leaving surrounding siding intact. Unless you have the skills, hire a professional carpenter or siding contractor. Expect to pay $200-$300 to replace one or two damaged siding panels or pieces of wood clapboard.
Savings: The average cost to repair dry rot depends on how pervasive the damage is but expect to pay upwards of $700 for an eight-hour repair project.
Mulch Those Leaves
Wet, matted dead leaves from rain and snow can kill the grass and piles of leaves can attract rodents – think rats — that’ll get you motivated! But you don’t have to rake and bag them – it’s not just a lot of work, it’s a waste to send them to the landfill.
Solution: Use your lawn mower’s mulching mode and grind up the leaves – they’ll feed your lawn and garden as they decay. You might need to make a few passes to chew up the leaves enough to decompose.
Savings: Along with saving the cost of leaf bags, you’ll avoid the labor-intensive stooping, scooping and bagging!
Eyeball Your Roof
An asphalt shingle roof should last between 20 and 30 years, so you may be in the clear, here. But it doesn’t hurt to eyeball an 11-year old roof, or check out the attic for water stains. Once the winter freeze-thaw cycle begins, a tiny leak in your roof can turn into a fissure and a $10,000 repair job, damaging the wood sheathing and rafters below the shingles.
Solution: From the safety of your yard and driveway, use binoculars to spot cracked, warped or missing shingles. If you see any, consider hiring a roofer to check the flashing for leaks around the chimney, any skylights, and roof valleys. He might also inspect the rubber boots near vents for cracks that can let moisture in.
Savings: At roughly $3 per square foot installed, new sheathing could cost you nearly $7,000 for a 2,300-square-foot house — if you had to replace it all. Figure on an additional $7,000 to $10,000 to install new shingles, plus the cost to replace any damaged roof rafters. A little preventive maintenance can go a long way!
Inside Maintenance That’ll $ave Money
If you have drafty windows and doors or your furnace needs a tune-up, you’ll be paying more to keep warm this winter than you need to. With a little caulk and some elbow grease you can tighten the envelope of your home. Your furnace is less likely to fail on a cold day if with a little maintenance today.
Automate Energy Savings
When you finally turn the furnace on, simply lowering temperatures 10 to 15 degrees while you’re at work or asleep can trim 15 percent off your heating bill.
Solution: You can lower temperatures manually on any thermostat or install a programmable thermostat (about $40 to $300) to do it for you.
Savings: Setting temperatures lower can save you up to $100 per year, based on average heating costs. That’s $500 in your pocket after just five years.
Plug the Leaks
Sealing air leaks in your home’s walls, windows, and especially ductwork is one of the fastest ways to save money with a little maintenance effort this fall.
Solution: Duct insulating and sealing are best left to a professional. But you can use a combination of caulk, foam board, expandable sealant, and weather stripping to plug leaks around windows, doors, electrical outlets, and other openings in your home.
Savings: Plugging leaks could reduce your annual heating and cooling bills by as much as $400!
Replace Furnace Filters
A dirty filter restricts heat and airflow, which can lead to expensive repairs.
Solution: Check the air filter in the furnace each month and have an HVAC pro check the system annually (about $120). The expert will tighten electrical connections, lubricate moving parts, and check drains, controls, and connections.
Savings: About $200 to $300 or more for service calls and repairs, plus the discomfort and risk of frozen pipes if your home’s heating system shuts off.
New Homes in Southshore
The master-planned community of Southshore welcomes new homebuyers every month to its established surrounds and amenities. If you are in the market for a new home, we invite you to tour the brand new Delaney model from Richmond American Homes and Century Communities latest home designs at The Hills in Southshore! These lakeside homes are available in ranch and two-story designs priced from the upper $300s to the $700s.