Fall is the perfect time to boost energy efficiency throughout your home and take steps to protect your property and prevent damage during the cold winter months. Indoor jobs like installing a smart thermostat or DIY security system and changing the batteries in your smoke detector can be done now. Outdoor chores like cleaning gutters and shutting down your sprinklers need to be taken care of before temperatures plummet.
We’ve put together this handy guide to help you tackle the most essential seasonal maintenance tasks to get your house in shape. Once you’ve checked these items off your to-do list, you can rest easy knowing your home and property are safe, secure and ready for whatever winter has in store.
Before the winter heating season begins, order fuel and schedule an appointment with a heating and cooling professional to make sure your furnace is working properly and the filters are cleaned or replaced. To help keep heating bills in check, consider upgrading to a smart thermostat like the Invita WiFi Thermostat. It works with most types of heating and cooling systems and the Invita Connect app provides secure Wi-Fi access so you can make adjustments when you’re away from home. It will even send email notifications when there are problems with your HVAC system. Want a choice in how you connect? The Venstar T3700 Explorer Residential Digital Thermostat has both WiFi and ZWave compatibility. Just add one of Venstar’s optional wireless modules.
Protect pipes in unheated locations from freezing and cracking by wrapping them with insulated tape or flexible molded pipe sleeves. To monitor for potential leaks in even the most out-of-the-way places in the house, install an automatic water shutoff system. The Watercop Classic Sergeant Kit is an affordable, sensor-based system designed with a wireless radio transmitter that detects water caused by leaks and automatically closes off access from your water supply. Add the SmartConnect WiFi and App Interface for 24/7 access to system alerts, notifications, and remote control of your WaterCop system. The FloLogic Automatic Water Shutoff System with WiFi Option is a flow-based system that constantly monitors all water coming into the home and closes the water supply after detecting a leak. The FloLogic mobile app sends instant alerts and allows you to turn your water off and on, adjust the settings, see if water is flowing and more.
If basement flooding is an issue in your home, you will want to make sure your sump pump is operating at peak performance. DIYcontrols offers a variety of solutions from Metropolitan Industries, a leading provider of state-of-the-art systems that protect basements from storm water damage. For instance, the Ion StormPro WC33i Sump Pump is a durable, energy efficient pump capable of removing 44 gallons per minute at 10′ to handle high water in-take situations. To help address common problems associated with sump pump failures, the Floodfree Pump Control and Alarm works as a controller and connects to your home alarm system to warn you before flooding occurs whether you are at home or away.
Chimney and Flue
Get your fireplace, wood stove or pellet stove in good working order. Make sure the chimney and flue are clean of debris, creosote and soot to prevent chimney fires and improve efficiency. The do-it-yourself Sooteater Rotary Pellet Stove Cleaning System cleans pellet stoves and stove pipes using cleaning tools that connect easily to any cordless power drill. Stock up on firewood now so you’ll be ready for the first cold snap.
Test and change the batteries in your smoke detectors and carbon monoxide (CO) detectors and vacuum with a soft brush. Keep extra household batteries on hand, and stock up on bottled water, medicines and canned food. Get a hand-crank or solar-powered radio or a battery-powered NOAA Weather Radio to stay informed of severe weather developments and other emergencies. Always keep a mobile phone charger on hand so you can continue to use your smartphone, even during a prolonged power outage.
Clogged gutters are one of the major causes of ice dams. Prevent ice dams from forming by cleaning fallen leaves and twigs out of your home’s gutters. Save money by using a do-it-yourself gutter cleaning tool kit instead of hiring a professional gutter cleaner. Check to make sure gutters aren’t sagging and trapping water, inspect joints and tighten brackets if necessary. Replace old or damaged gutters and downspouts with new ones that have built-in leaf guards.
Prevent outdoor pipes from freezing and cracking by turning off outdoor water faucets using the basement shut-off valve and leaving outside faucet handles open. Turning off and draining the underground sprinkler system is also a pre-frost must-do. Even buried irrigation lines can freeze, leading to broken pipes and sprinkler heads.
Pesky rodents, birds and animals seeking warmth and food are a common problem during the winter months. Inspect the exterior of your house for openings where pests can enter and seal with caulking or screening. For an effective, user friendly and environmentally safe way to combat rodents, invest in an electronic animal and pest deterrent like the Attack Wave Pestrepeller. It uses high-intensity ultrasonic sound waves to drive small animals out of your house, garage or storage shed without pesticides or traps.
If you travel during the holidays or leave town for long stretches of time over the winter, installing a professional grade DIY security system to safeguard you home is a must. A fee-free, internet based security system like Risco’s WiComm Internet/Cellular Security System with a cellular backup option lets you use your smartphone or computer to control the system from anywhere. The Basic Kit comes with everything you need to get started, including a smart hub, one motion sensor, two door/window sensors and a keychain remote control. Add a variety of smart sensors, motion detectors and surveillance cameras to protect your home from fire, flooding, intruders and other safety hazards.
With the DIY SmartThings Home Security System you can make your home more secure and functional. The starter kid includes a SmartThings Hub, two door/window sensors, a motion sensor and a siren, but you can upgrade to kits that allow you to control door locks and lighting. Create a total smart home network by adding additional Z-wave sensors to control any number of connected devices in your home.
Taking these steps will help protect your home from damage caused by harsh winter weather and keep you and your family safe and warm. Shop our store for more great ideas!