With the last heatwave of summer behind us, the arrival of fall is a good time to start thinking about winterizing your home. This is especially important if you are a snowbird who’ll be spending the colder months elsewhere.
A good place to start is by cleaning out your dryer vents, which are one of the most common causes of house fires. Check that your dryer is vented above a potential snow line to ensure it won’t be obstructed by packed snow, and make sure it’s properly vented to the outside.
Another important fall task is to change the batteries in your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors, and check that all detectors are in working order. Many people like to do this when daylight saving time ends, which is Nov. 5 this year. Smoke detectors should be less than 10 years old, and carbon monoxide detectors less than seven. If you need help replacing your detectors, I can recommend a company that does this, or follow the guide on the Hopkinton fire prevention webpage to determine what type is required for the age/size of your home. Newer detectors have longer-lasting lithium batteries.
This is also a good time to check your fire extinguishers to make sure they’re within their expiration date and replace them if necessary, to have your chimney cleaned and inspected before using your fireplace for the first time this fall or winter, and to schedule annual maintenance for your furnace. The Mass.gov website has information on home energy assistance programs (LIHEAP), while MassSave.com offers discounts on thermostats and insulation, and even 0% down loans to update older and inefficient heating systems.
Once the leaves have fallen, clean out your gutters, and check for any overhanging branches that could fall on the house if they’re weighted down with snow or ice.
Frozen pipes are a homeowner’s nightmare. Know where the main shutoff for your water system is in case of emergency. Setting your thermostat to a minimum of 60 degrees will help keep your pipes from freezing. You can use pipe wrap for extra protection.
Keep your hoses and sprinkler systems from freezing by turning off water valves inside the house, then going outside and opening the valves to clear water from the pipes. Disconnect hoses from faucets and store them.
To keep the cold out and the heat in, caulk around leaky windows or cover them with plastic shrink film. Apply weatherstripping around drafty door frames, and use draft stoppers to block cold air from seeping in under doors.
Now break out your snow gear and enjoy the toasty comfort of your winterized home!
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