As the end of summer approaches and the mercury starts to drop in much of the country, responsible homeowners are starting to gear up for the fall season. For most, that means going through the fall maintenance tasks they perform each year to make sure that their heating system will perform properly and that their home will make it through the cold season damage free.
However, if you’re a new homeowner or you’ll simply be taking care of fall maintenance mostly on your own this year, there are some essential tasks that you need to do now. Even if you’re an experienced homeowner who regularly does their own maintenance it’s easy to forget to do some of the necessary tasks when you’re busy with work and family.
Use this fall maintenance checklist to make sure you’re on top of everything before the cold season is in full swing.
Set Your Thermostat
One of the most important fall maintenance tips for homeowners is one that’s very easy to follow – set your thermostat to save money and stay comfortable in your home. To do that, you’ll want to vary the temperature throughout the day by using a programmable thermostat.
To get the most out of your programmable thermostat, set the temperature to between 65 degrees and 70 degrees when you’re at home and awake. Program your thermostat to lower the temperature about 10 to 15 degrees when you’re sleeping and at work since you won’t notice the difference under heavy winter blankets and when you’re not at home.
Set the thermostat to bring the temperature back up to a comfortable level about 30 minutes before you typically wake up and when you arrive home in the afternoon or evening.
Change Your Furnace Filter
Changing your furnace filter is one of the simplest things a homeowner can do when it comes to fall maintenance. However, it’s also one of the easiest tasks to overlook or simply neglect when you’re busy with other things.
While not all furnace filters need to be changed each month, almost all of them require you to swap them out about once every two months. If you don’t, your heating system won’t work as efficiently and you’re running the risk of starting a fire because of dirt, dust and debris buildup in a hot place like the furnace area.
Check your owner’s manual or ask your HVAC expert how often you should be changing your furnace filter. They’ll change yours for you when you get a seasonal tune-up, but it’s maintenance you can do on your own throughout the year in just a minute or two.
Look for Air Leaks
Air leaks are a major problem for homeowners since they can easily let cold outside air into your home, forcing you to run your heating system more or set your thermostat to a higher temperature in order to stay comfortable. Leaks in your home will also be letting the warm air from your heating system out at the same time.
To check for leaks, the simplest method is to use an incense stick around doors and windows on a windy day. By simply positioning the stick near a door or window frame you’ll be able to watch which way the smoke blows. If it moves away from you and into your home, that means that the door or window you’re standing near is letting air in your home and you have a leak.
If you notice that you do have air leaks around your home when performing basic fall maintenance, sealing them yourself or having them sealed by a professional is often your best bet. Replacing older windows and doors with more efficient models that help keep your home more comfortable all year round can also be beneficial and save you quite a bit on your heating and cooling bills.
Another option you have when it comes to air leaks is to have a professional inspection done as part of your fall maintenance routine. A professional inspection can help you find even small air leaks and recommend ways to fix them while making your entire home more efficient.
Check Attic Insulation
Attic insulation plays a major factor in how warm your home will stay during the winter since it will trap heat or let cold air into your home. Still, many homeowners don’t check their insulation each year when it’s time for fall maintenance. Checking your insulation is particularly important if you’ve just purchased a home or you’re living in an older home and haven’t had the insulation redone in years.
Ideally, you want the insulation in your attic to be about 10 to 12-inches thick. While it can be hard to measure insulation thickness on your own, a good way to tell if you have enough is to look for ceiling beams and joists. If you can see them, you don’t have enough insulation, and adding more could greatly benefit your home’s comfort level and reduce your heating costs in the winter.
Get Your HVAC System Serviced
A proper HVAC system checkup is something that every homeowner should have done twice per year. However, even if you skipped your checkup before the start of the warm season, you should still take the time to get your HVAC system looked at by a professional before you need to turn the heat on.
The reason getting an HVAC system checkup is so important is that your heating system could be damaged and you may not know about it. You likely haven’t turned it on in months, so there’s a good chance any damage is relatively easy to repair.
However, if you don’t get damage fixed before you turn your heater on, you could be putting yourself at risk or end up with a huge repair bill when the heating system finally breaks down.
Save yourself some money and headaches in the long run and get an HVAC system checkup before you need the heater.