Fall Home Maintenance To-Do List
By: Danny Lipford
Indoor Fall Home Maintenance
- Change Furnace Filter: Replacing the air filter on your HVAC (Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning) system every 1-3 months allows it to run more efficiently and keeps the air in your home cleaner. It’s easy to change a furnace air filter by removing the cover of the air return, sliding out the old filter, and replacing it with a new one with the arrows on the filter pointing in the direction of air flow. If you suffer from allergies, this is a great time to upgrade to a high-performance allergen air filter for your home. If you’re not sure where the air filter in your house is located, check out our article on How to Find a HVAC Air Filter.
- Inspect Heating System: In addition to changing the filter, it's a good idea to have your HVAC system inspected and serviced each fall and spring. A licensed heating and cooling professional should inspect and clean the blower and motor, check safety controls, and test burners and switches. You can check your ductwork and seal ductwork cracks and leaks with special metallic tape and duct mastic. Regular upkeep will ensure that your system is both safe and efficient.
- Ceiling Fans: Cold weather is coming, and it's time to change the direction of rotation of your paddle ceiling fans. During fall and winter, ceiling fans should rotate in a clockwise direction when looking up at the fan. This creates a gentle updraft that circulates rising heat without blowing directly on you. To change the direction of your ceiling fan, turn the fan off, allow the blades to stop, then flip the small switch, located on the fan housing. On many fans the “up” position on the switch indicates upward air flow. Of course, if your fan has a remote control with a direction setting, this job doesn’t even require a ladder.
- Fire Extinguishers: First of all, if you don't have several ABC rated fire extinguishers throughout your home (especially in the kitchen and near the fireplace) go buy some right away! Then, regularly check your fire extinguishers to make sure they're easily accessible and in good working order. They shouldn't be blocked by furniture or clutter, and the pull pin and tamper seal should be undamaged. Clear any dirt, grease, or spiderwebs from the unit and nozzles, and inspect for rust, dents, and damage. For dry chemical extinguishers, check the pressure gauge to make sure it's in the green zone (CO2 extinguishers have to be weighed to check the pressure). Give dry chemical extinguishers a good shake to loosen the contents.
- Lubricate Door Locks: Over time, your home's door locks can become sticky and hard to lock and unlock. Fortunately, this problem is easy to fix! To lubricate sticky door locks, squirt a small amount of powdered graphite into the keyhole. Powdered graphite is available in tubes at home centers and hardware stores. It's a great lubricant for locks, because it's dry and doesn't attract dust or dirt. After applying graphite to the keyhole, insert, turn, and remove the key a few times to distribute the lubricant.
- Fix Squeaky Door Hinges: There's nothing quite as annoying as a squeaky door hinge! While you're at the hardware store getting graphite for your locks, pick up a small tube or spray can of white lithium grease for your door hinges. To lubricate door hinges, close and latch the door, then tap out the hinge pin. Coat the hinge pin with a small amount of lithium grease, and squirt a little into the hinge barrel as well. Replace the pin and work the hinge back and worth, wiping up any grease that oozes out.
- Check Toilets: Start by checking toilets for leaks both outside the tank around the supply line and bowl connection, where the toilet meets the floor, and inside the tank. If your toilet runs without flushing, either the water level is set too high or the flapper valve needs replacing. Start by checking the water level to be sure it isn't spilling over the top into the overflow pipe. If it is, lower the water level by turning the adjustment screw located on the supply valve or by adjusting the float mechanism. If the toilet is still running, replace the flapper valve at the bottom of the tank.
- Check Bathtub Caulk: Cracked or missing caulk around a bathtub can cause water to leak behind the tub, leading to mold growth and water damage to the framing. To replace bathtub caulk, remove the old caulk with a putty knife, dry the crack completely with a hair dryer, and apply a bead of 100% silicone caulk to the joint. To smooth out the bead of silicone caulk, put on a disposable glove, dip your index finger in mineral spirits, and use it to smooth out the caulk. You can also mist the caulk bead with denatured alcohol, then use your finger to smooth it out.
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