This post is brought to you by Jon Parker, Owner of American Home Contractors.
We all know how it goes: You wake up on a Saturday with every intention of doing some pre-winter home maintenance but ditch your best-laid plans as soon as you feel the late-summer sun on your shoulders. Avoid putting off until next Saturday (or next year) what you can do with ease today. You can always put your feet up late when it’s time to rake the leaves.
1. Weatherproof Windows & Doors
Seal gaps larger than ⅛ inch around windows and doors to cut your winter heating bill by up to 15%. On windows, press adhesive-backed closed-cell foam onto the bottom of the sash. Secure a loose sash by applying a strip of plastic V-channel weatherstripping in the groove the sash slides in, securing it with finish nails. Use foam strips on the sides and tops of doors, and install a door sweep on the bottom.
2. Check Your Gutters
When gutters aren’t pitched at the right angle, they overflow—and can threaten your once dry basement. Properly pitched gutters slope between 1/16 inch and ⅛ inch per foot, directing water to the leader and out the downspout. Check the pitch by holding a level even with the gutter; on longer runs, pour in water from a hose and check the flow’s direction.
3. Find & Fix Cracked Concrete
Cracks in your driveway, walkway, or steps only get worse if water seeps in and freezes. Luckily, if you can caulk, you can fix concrete—just make sure it’s clean and dry to start. For cracks less than a half-inch wide, squeeze a bead of acrylic latex concrete repair compound deep into the crack, smoothing excess with a putty knife. For larger cracks, trowel on a vinyl concrete patching compound, and let it cure one day before walking on it, three days before driving over it
4. Clean Cooling Devices
If you have ceiling fans, change their rotation to clockwise to push warm air down (usually accomplished by flicking a switch on the base), and while you’re at it, wipe down the blades with a microfiber cloth that traps dust. At month’s end or when the temps drop, remove window AC units. Vacuum the coils and filters, and store them in a cool, dry place, preferably covered to keep out dust and bugs.
5. Check Your Insulation
How do you know if your attic is properly protected? It’s simple: If you can see the tops of the joists, you’ve got a problem. If the existing insulation is roughly even with the tops of the joists, add a new layer of unfaced batt insulation perpendicular to the old one, pushing the pieces together so they fit snugly side by side. On the other hand, if the existing layers are more than an inch above (or below) the joists, blown-in cellulose or fiberglass does a better job of filling the crevices.