Fall into Winter

Leaves are starting to turn, geese are honking, and children have gone back to school. It is too soon to think about winter, but now is the perfect time to start preparing for the blast that will come. Shivering in the cold to get the house ready for winter is not so fun. Here are a few things that you can get the jump on before you have to drag out the winter coats and boots.

1)     Check for drafts around windows, doors and baseboards. We lose a lot of heat from our homes this way. An easy way to check this it to get an incense stick, light it and place it near the windows, doors and base boards. If you notice a draft, grab the caulking tube and run a fine bead along the gaps. (Always check the type of caulking to use before you start). My favorite is a removable type that when I have used it around old windows I can remove it in the spring so I can open the windows.

  1. You should also inspect the exterior of the windows and doors and fill the gaps on the outside as well.

2)     Clear away debris from around your home. Not only does it make the home have a curb appeal but it takes away places for unwanted pests to set up house.

3)     After the leaves have fallen, clean the eaves. This will help keep the eave functioning as they are designed to do – carry water away from the house. When you are up there you should also make any repairs to the eaves and if they are detaching from the fascia, make sure they are snug for the winter, especially if you have ice dams.

4)     Have your furnace serviced – this will be a cleaning and the technician should be checking the gas pressure/flow to the furnace to ensure that the furnace is getting the optimum fuel and is helping you save on gas costs.

  1. Replace the furnace filter – if you have pets or live in a older home use a filter with a high MERV rating of 6 or greater (http://www.furnacefiltercare.com/merv-ratings.php)  (they do cost more but they help protect your furnace and prevent costly repairs)
  2. The filter should be replaced every 3 months – this is an average but if you have pets in the home, it is suggested to change it more frequently.
  3. Make sure that the area around your furnace is clear of boxes and stored items.

***If your heating source is a boiler have a qualified technician service the unit to make sure there is proper pressure for the system and the PH level is correct. If you are new to using a boiler system ask the technician what the general maintenance should be.

5)     The hot water tank – whether electric or gas, we tend to not think about it until something happens – the tank bursts or we don’t get enough hot water. To help maintain the tank you should drain it at least once a year. Grab an old garden hose attach it to the valve at the bottom of the tank. Put the end of the hose in the floor drain and then turn on the valve – empty it about half way, shut off the valve, remove the hose and you are good for another year. The reasoning behind this is that there is sediment in water and by draining it; the heater does not have to work hard to heat the water. (a word of caution: if your tank is 15 years or older, I do not recommend that you do this if it has not been done during the life of the heater – sometimes the sediment is the only think keeping the tank from leaking or bursting)  If you have a tankless water heater, follow the manufactures recommendations for maintenance.

6)     Outside tap – depending on what you may need the hose and tap for, until it freezes, mark in the calendar, Smartphone, computer calendar to remove the hose and turn off the water supply inside the house, if you are not able to shut off the valve inside consider the cost of hiring a plumber, or if you are a D.I.Y’er install a frost free one to prevent it bursting over winter.

7)     Exterior electrical – before you have to plug the car in make sure that the outlet that you use for the block heater is in working order (use an old clock radio or a lamp to see if there is power). If it is not hire an electrician to make it safe.

These are basic maintenance to follow, depending on your home there maybe other general maintenance that you need to do.

Don’t sweat the small stuff.

As we enjoy summer the Job jar fills higher to the top and you ask yourself where do I start? Even by asking the question you decide to wait until you feel you can deal with it. Here are some hints to help you get the list down.

1) Sort the tasks into piles – such as yard, house, cottage ( you can create the job jar with the tasks, but make sure the Jar is opaque – if you feel there is to much to do you won’t do it.)

2) With in each of those piles sort the important to the least important.

3) Take one of the lists and start at the top. Don’t try to do it all in one go, it will become overwhelming and you won’t accomplish anything and the list will continue to grow.

4) If you feel pinched for time make an appointment to work on the task – Stay focused and don’t start a new task until the first one is finished.

5) When you finish the task, make a big mark to show that you have accomplished it – one off the list. “check”.

6) Get the kids involved – make the tasks fun to do, even when building a fence everyone can help.

Working in the sun

When working out in the sun, always drink plenty of water and wear a hat. – Keep cool by wrapping a cold wet bandanna around your neck. If you are feeling light headed and sick to your stomach, move to the shade or to a cool area, and drink plenty of water.

Emergency pipe repairs

Finding a water leak is bad news for a homeowner, but knowledge of emergency pipe repairs can help to limit the damage until an experience plumber arrives.

The first thing you need to know is where the main shut off is situated – this enables you to turn off the water. There will normally be two – one under the kitchen sink, and another outside the property. Find one or the other and turn the water supply off.

If a tank, cistern or toilet is leaking, you might be able to isolate the water supply independently. You will also need to put buckets under the leak and turn on all the taps in the house to drain the system faster.

Methods of making emergency pipe repairs include:

(a) Flattening the pipe so it is closed on the supply side – if the pipe is made of lead or copper, you may be able to hammer it flat to limit or stop the flow of water. This is a fairly primitive option.

(b) Cut a length of hosepipe that extends at least 8 cm (3 inches) past the hole in the pipe at each end. Slit the hosepipe down it’s length then wrap it around the damaged pipe, with the slit away from the hole, and secure it with at least three screw clamps .

(c)  Alternatively you can clean the pipe and wrap it well with a pipe repair kit.

If you feel comfortable with your basic plumbing skills you can replace the damaged section with an off the shelf push fit pipe repair. To do this, you will need to cut away the damaged section of the pipe and install a new section of pipe with either compression fittings at each end or push fit connectors. When you are cutting, remember that the pipe will need to slide inside the pipe repair by about 20mm each side before locking.

“Source – http://www.houseprofessionals.com/diy/index.htm “