Skolnick's Scoop: Protect that Westport home! Pre-winter maintenance a must
Published 5:59 pm, Thursday, December 18, 2014
Roof and gutters
Rain, ice, snow and wind can all cause damage to your roof and gutters. Now's the time to trim back all tree limbs and vegetation away from the roof. You also should remove debris, such as leaves and sticks, from your gutters and downspouts. Clogged gutters don't allow water to properly drain away from the home, which can cause seepage in your ceilings and walls. You can also invest in gutter guards, a screen that prevents debris from entering the gutter and directs the flow of water away from the house and into the ground.
You don't want to find out that your water heater isn't operating properly when you need it most. So use this time to perform an annual inspection, which includes having your tank's pressure and temperature relief valve checked. In addition, remove sediment from the bottom of the tank by draining two gallons of water to improve heat transfer and the efficiency of your heater.
Heating and cooling system
It's time for your annual service call with your oil company. Or, you can try it on your own. If you have a forced warm-air heating system, you should check the exhaust vent and air shutter openings for dirt and dust. Clean any lint and dirt from the blower blades, motor and burner (if you have a gas heater). Vacuum air passages and check and replace, if necessary, fan belts. To prevent airborne dirt from circulating throughout your home, wash out your reusable filter or replace it if it is disposable.
Doors and windows
To help control heating costs, you want to make sure that your doors and windows are properly sealed. Now is the time to repair or replace weather-stripping around door bottoms and jambs and window frames. Check for loose or missing glazing putty and caulking for deterioration. If you have storm windows, install them.
Frozen or burst pipes can cause major damage to your home and be expensive to remedy. Before frigid weather hits, protect your pipes in unheated areas from freezing by adding insulation, which reduces heat loss from hot-water pipes and condensation on cold water pipes.
This can be accomplished by wrapping the pipes with heating tape or blanket insulation and duct tape or by encasing the pipes with preformed plastic foam. In addition, examine your pipes for cracks and leaks.
Before you light the logs and get ready to settle in front of a cozy fire, make sure that your fireplace is in good working order. Have your chimney flue cleaned and if needed, inspected and repaired. Have the seal checked on your flue, which is designed to keep out drafts. Replace the seal if it is loose or damaged.
If you decide to do the maintenance yourself, disconnect the power for any electrical or gas systems. In addition, before inspecting, cleaning or making any repairs, refer to your owner's manual for all equipment for proper instructions, which should be the final authority on any maintenance.
Although this list is merely a guide, it can help you keep your home in good shape and have a winter free of major repairs. Advance planning can save you lots of time and money.
Linda Skolnick's "Skolnick's Scoop" appears every other Friday. She is a Realtor with Coldwell Banker Riverside in Westport and can be reached through her website, www.GoAskLinda.com, or by calling 203-246-0088.