Cold-weather ready, part 1
Whether we like it or not, September means that fall is just around the corner. And after fall comes winter. And in Buffalo, there is a tendency to gloss over fall and spring in favor of more winter.
No one wants to think about the end of summer. Except snow plow companies. We don’t either. But we’re not going to insult you with platitudes about “whether you like it or not” or “the times they are a-changin.” Winter will be here when it’s here, and in the Buffalo area that could be as early as October or as late as late October.
This is part one in our series of blogs to get your house ready for winter. The time to do that is in the fall, not when you see the first snowflakes. A few years ago, those first few snowflakes turned into the October Surprise we all remember so fondly.
1. Yard work. Obviously, at a certain point you stop mowing your lawn. Then the leaves fall and cover it anyway. Then the snow falls and covers the leaves. Mulching your leaves with the lawnmower is a great way to save time raking without killing all your grass. At some point, though, the leaf cleanup will be necessary.
Once you’ve mowed for the last time, it’s smart to clean your lawnmower to save a lot of elbow grease in the spring. If it’s gas operated, empty the tank so winter pressure and temperature changes don’t have adverse effects while it sits unused for months. Clean out the stuck grass and leaves. Be careful with the blades – they’re sharp. That’s how they cut things like grass and leaves and sticks and errant action figures.
Weed now. Yes, now. Once your summer garden is put to rest for the season, go around and do some serious weeding. Just like your garden, weeds don’t grow well covered in several feet of snow. Weeding now will save you a lot of time in the spring. Be especially diligent about weeding any edible plants (edible to people or animals, animals eat some weird stuff) away from your foundation. It will help keep critters from accidentally stumbling into your basement.
Gutters. Everyone’s favorite. Do gutters count as yard work? Technically, they’re part of your house. Cleaning gutters is important. Have you ever heard of ice dams? They’re terrible. You don’t want them. Beavers don’t even want them. If you don’t clean your gutters, you’ll get ice dams. You can read more about these housing terrors on the next blog when we talk about attic insulation.
2. Fireplace. This one is pretty easy. Check your fireplace and chimney to make sure it’s not going to be a source of cold air in your otherwise heated home. If you haven’t had your chimney cleaned (or swept, so say the pros) in a while, hire a professional. This is not a task you should try to DIY.
3. Air Conditioning. Whether you have window units or central AC, there is some maintenance that should be done at the end of the warm season to prepare for the offseason.
Window units should be removed from the windows. Hopefully you knew that already. If they cannot be removed, they should have a special weather-proof cover that goes on the exposed part of the unit outside. Unplug them before you move them. So far, none of this should be blowing your mind.
Once your AC in unplugged and removed, it’s time to clean it. Wipe away all the dust, dirt, and other grime that’s accumulated. That’s step one. Step two is to clean or change the filters. Filters collect a lot of gross stuff, and leaving dirty filters in just means it has that much longer to fester…. Some units have reusable filters that can be machine or hand washed. Some of them you just toss the filter and put in a new one. Either way, it takes only a few minutes and it’s well worth it for the air quality in your home.
If you have central AC, fall is the time to clean the exposed parts. The outside unit should be covered to protect it from ice and snow. They typically have a main fluid valve that doesn’t need to be on during the winter when the AC isn’t being used. If you’re unsure, go ahead and call Capital Heat for some help. After all, that’s what we’re here for.
4. Test your sump pump. This one probably goes overlooked by a lot of people. You only care about your sump pump when you need it. For example, when your basement is flooding. That’s a big deal, and in those moments your sump pump might as well be made of gold. Unfortunately, if it’s not working, that’s way too late to find out about it. Goodbye, high school yearbooks. So long, children’s favorite old toys. You’re all soaked in disgusting ground water now, and you will smell for the rest of time.
If your sump pump has gone unneeded for the last few months, it’s time to test it. Get a couple gallons of water and pour it into the intake pit. Your sump pump should kick on and get rid of it. If it doesn’t, you need to have it serviced. And you need to get a mop. But at least all your memories will stay stench-free.
That’s it for today. But oh! So much more to talk about. We haven’t even touched on heating units and weatherproofing. We’re excited. Come back in a few weeks for the rest. Until then, get working on steps 1-4. And call us if you need help. Or visit the “tips” page of our website to learn a little more.