Fall is pretty much knocking on our doors these days, as the temperatures cool and the leaves begin changing colors. Since we all know what comes after fall (winter, ugh), now's the time to get your home ready for the impending cold and snow while there's still a warm sun shining and enough daylight to make your evenings enjoyable. Not sure where to start? We've got a checklist of fall prep essentials you'll be glad you have at the ready.

Clean Your Gutters

This probably isn't anyone's favorite chore, but with the promise of fall showers and the eventual snowfalls, getting those gutters cleared out before the leaves start falling will help you stay ahead of the task when Fall rolls around in full force. Make it a weekend project, and make sure to put safety first! If you're uncomfortable with the prospect of clearing out gutters or teetering at the top of a ladder, there are people you can hire for that. It's a pretty simple process, but a crucial one to keeping rainwater or snowmelt flowing properly, protecting your home's foundation, roof, walls, and landscape.

Check Those Batteries

This is one of those things you should be doing regularly, but in case it's been awhile, check the batteries and working condition of your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors. If you're not familiar with what's in your home, check to see if your smoke detector also includes a carbon monoxide detector or not. If it does, congrats, you have one less 'test' button to press! If not, you may want to find your carbon monoxide detector - or purchase one - and ensure that it is located close to the ground. While you're in the testing phase, consult your owner's manual to see how often you should be performing this check, and when you need to replace your carbon monoxide detector. CO detectors have a limited lifespan, and many manufacturers and industry groups recommend replacing them every 5-6 years.

Inspect Your Chimney

If you're rocking that fireplace life, now's the time to check your chimney or stove pipe and make sure it's clean. Check the damper that opens and closes to let the smoke rise (you know, that metal blade in the fireplace or the flue pipe). Watch out for wasps or other insects or visitors that may have attempted to make your chimney or flue home over the summer months - and make sure it's creosote-free. Whether you're dealing with a masonry chimney, a chimney liner, or an all-fuel flue pipe (you know, the expensive stainless steel pipes that are built for the job), you need to make sure it's free of creosote, a flammable chemical that builds up on the inside walls of the chimney as a result of burning fires. Allowing excessive creosote buildup in these exhaust systems can result in a serious fire danger. If you use your fireplace or stove regularly, annual cleaning is required - at the very least. In some cases, that may not be often enough. Even if you plan only infrequent use of a wood or coal burner, regular maintenance is required to insure your safety. In many cases, a homeowner may not be fully qualified to perform this important annual maintenance, and full inspection. Consult a professional first, and learn more.

Get HVAC Serviced

Your air conditioning has been humming along all summer (and gratefully so in the face of dog days temps) and it will soon be time to turn some attention toward the heating system. If you haven't recently had your heating system checked out - say, on an annual maintenance visit, during a less hectic time of the year - then now's certainly time to schedule an annual checkup. We all want to be able to flip on the cozy temperatures at the drop of a hat, especially when that surprise freeze hits a little earlier than expected around Halloween, so don't delay getting on your trusted service tech's calendar - and please be prepared to be a little patient, as many of your friends and neighbors may also be making the same call, right now.

If you haven't already, please ask us about our annual maintenance plans, which are tailored to your specific needs and feature discounted annual maintenance, plus additional discounts on repairs and equipment replacements or upgrades. Whether you have a furnace or boiler, central or ductless AC, heat pump, central humidifier, high efficiency air cleaner, or more, we'll make sure your equipment is given the thorough annual servicing and attention to detail it requires - and not rush away from your home on a 'higher priority.' Annual service for Save Home Heat maintenance agreement customers is normally performed in the off season or during off-peak periods, when we're not swamped with 'No heat!' or 'No AC!'calls from other valued, but frantic, customers at the beginning of the season. Performing detailed annual service when our technicians are not buried with urgent calls helps us ensure that everything in your system is in safe, proper working order, running as efficiently as possible for your home. If your equipment is running fine but is starting to show its age, we won't pressure you to replace the system, but we'll make sure you're informed of your options before they become a front-burner issue.

Weather Stripping at the Ready

Weather stripping is a cost-effective and simple way to keep your home as airtight as possible, helping reduce drafts and keeping your home more comfortable as the temperatures drop. If you've had weather stripping installed for awhile, make sure you inspect it, as it can deteriorate over time. If you've never had them before, but you've noticed things getting a little drafty, now's the perfect time to get acquainted with these little helpers. While you're at it, check interior and exterior caulking, especially around window frames, door frames, and places near your foundation. If they need to be touched up, add it to the honey-do list! Shoring up those spots will help avoid chilly breezes as well as discourage little critters from getting into your home.

Have Outdoor Faucets Cleared and Turned Off

Nobody wants a frozen or burst pipe, and sometimes it's easy to forget about those outdoor water sources. Some spigots don't need draining, while others...? Now's the time to think about and plan for freeze-proofing your outdoor plumbing, drain as needed, and turn them off for the year. And of course while you're at it, whether by you or by a pro, blowing out your sprinkler lines is an important must-do project to tackle or schedule now, while the weather is nice and your lawn is likely in the best condition it'll be in for the remainder of the year.

Prep the Humidifier

It's about to get even drier in Colorado's normally arid climate, so ensuring that your humidifier (whatever type you may have - whether it's portable or central) is ready for another winter of keeping the moisture levels in your home properly regulated is a must-do before your family starts waking up with that tell-tale scratch in the back of the throat. If you're working with a portable option, you're probably familiar with the routine of getting it prepped for another dry, cold winter season. But if you have a central humidifier, that works in tandem with your HVAC system during the heating season, you'll likely want a professional to check it out before you start to feel dry. With our custom tailored annual maintenance plans, your central humidifier can be inspected and serviced alongside the furnace - less need to worry or stock up on hand lotion for the coming months!

Check the Filter (Seriously!)

We know, we know, when are they gonna stop talking about furnace filters? The short answer is never! It's such an important part of regular, season-long HVAC maintenance. Changing the furnace filter once at the beginning of the heating season and once at the start of AC season is often just not enough. Unfortunately, neglecting this simple task can end up costing you hundreds, if not thousands of dollars in easily avoided repairs. 'Nuff said, for now.

If you're not comfortable checking and replacing your furnace (or air handler) filter, have a technician come and do the job for you, and feel free to be the little fly on the wall as they perform their work, so you can learn a thing or two and be prepared when the next swap point rolls around. If you are comfortable with taking over the check-and-change, the next step is to learn how frequently your system needs to have the filter serviced. Your technician, and time, will be the best teacher.

 

Sure, it looks like a lot, but getting these steps checked off your list will help make your fall cozy, comfortable, and safe for your whole family. It will leave you with a few less things to worry about when fall turns to winter and you may prefer to be focused on the holidays. If you want to offload some of those tasks, and gain the peace of mind that comes with experienced technicians checking your home's comfort and safety systems on a regular basis, in the Denver-Boulder area, contact us to learn more about our annual maintenance plans.