Before winter sets in, it's good to prevent maintenance issues. Unless you have mad skills, it might be best to call professionals to come and do a health and maintenance checkup at your home. But no matter how you approach it, a good to-do list includes:
• Check your appliances. Vacuum the refrigerator fan and coils at the bottom or back of the unit to avoid overheating and save on electricity.
• Check hoses on the dishwasher and washer/dryer once a year for any bulges, cracks or leaks.
• Change furnace filters every 3 months, especially now that our air is so smoky from West Coast fires.
• Check to see if you have surge protectors connected to your electrical devices to avoid overheating and fires. Replace frayed or worn cords on all electrical appliances.
• Check your roof for loose shingles, worn flashing and damaged or leaking gutters.
• If your water heater is making noises or you have low water pressure, you may have issues. If there is water evident on the floor underneath it, you need a new one!
• Has landscaping and dirt creeped too close to your foundation? Keep at least two feet of space between your home's foundation and landscaping. You don't want water coming into your basement if we get a surprise deluge from Mother Nature. Check that your gutter downspouts are pointed away from your foundation, and remember to clean out your gutters.
We recently installed a new security system at our home. We added two small wallet-size water-detection alarms that we put near our water heater and near the washer/dryer. Twice this summer the alarms went off, and we were notified on our phone. Thank goodness, because if we hadn't been alerted, our basement would have flooded due to a broken water softener. Smoke, water and CO2 alarms are all available at Lowe's or other home improvement stores.
Also, quit throwing money away. Try these simple tips to save on utility bills this winter:
• When you clean your fridge and remove the dust bunnies, set the temperature so that it's cold enough to store food but not so low you waste energy.
• Use the right size burner on your stove for the pan you're working with. It saves heat and saves you money.
• Only run your dishwasher when it's full. It also saves water to use a full dishwasher rather than hand wash each dish.
• Make sure when you wash clothes you set the machine for the appropriate load size and clean your dryer vent often so it will run more efficiently. Washing on cold saves money and using dryer balls helps to reduce drying time.
• Update your thermostat so you can control your temps via an app. Nest-like thermostats have helped improve our wise use of our heating and cooling systems.
• Update your light fixtures to LED bulbs.
• Update appliances if you can afford to and—with the interruption of supply and shipping chains—if you can find them!
I made a checklist that I go over every quarter for me to check around my home, inside and out. It helps me avoid potential surprises and disasters at our home base, our nest.