Which means fall home improvement projects to keep you and your family cozy. Here are 8 must-do improvements you can tackle this season - and if you need a recommendation for someone to do it FOR you, just text me! 425.260.2017
1. Check for Standing Water
Take a look near your downspouts and around the perimeter of you home for any standing water. This could be a gutter overflow issue, a depression in your yard, or even worse a negative slope directing water TOWARDS your house/garage instead of away. All of this can (and should) be solved to avoid damage to your home as well as mold issues. The first step is identifying where the water is coming from - if it's your gutters or downspouts, yearly cleaning and adding a rain barrel and/or downspout extender might clear up the issue. If it's in your yard it might be coming from a neighbors property or just the grade of your lot, in which case you might need to install a french drain or rain garden/swale to divert the excess water away from your home. Read more about these issues and how to solve them HERE.
2. Do An Energy Audit
Do you feel drafts in the winter or just can't keep your home cool in summer? Maybe your heating bills are sky high? Chances are there are culprits in your attic or around windows and doors that are leaking all that heat (or cooling). An energy audit can help you figure out where any issues might be and how to mitigate them. Read more about how a professional audit can help keep you cozy and lower your energy bills HERE.
3. Trim Foliage Away from Your Home and Power Lines
Here in the PNW we love our trees - but without proper care they can overgrow their spaces, impact your roofline, pipes, foundation, and power lines. The first step of proper tree care is to not plant trees and large shrubs too close to your home or important systems. Roots can impact driveways, foundations, septic systems and more. While branches near your home can be a highway for pests, add moss and mildew to roofs, and drop branches on important things like power lines. I HIGHLY recommend leaving tree trimming to the pros. Not only do they know when and how to prune different types of trees to keep them healthy - they also do it safely and without running the risk of YOU falling off a ladder. Learn more about tree trimming HERE.
4. Clean Out Your Gutters
This goes along with that standing water issue - but even if you DON'T see any puddles, it's still a yearly task that shouldn't be skipped. Not only does it prevent flooding, a clogged gutter can back up onto your roof, and during winter freezes and thaws can create ice dams that can cause major issues, including flooding the INSIDE of your home. I delegate this task to the professionals (because it involves ladders and yucky gunk - that's a technical term). If you want to make it easier on yourself each year, consider installing various gutter systems that help filter out leaves and debris. They make it much easier - but even after installing guards you might need to clear out the micro-debris that gets in regardless. Read more on the best ways to clean your gutters - SAFELY! - here.
5. Protect Tender Perennials (and Pots!)
We're lucky here in Seattle and the Eastside to have relatively mild winters with most of us in USDA Zone 8b. However there are still plants that we love in our gardens that would benefit from protection. Think about your asparagus ferns, fuschias, any hardy palm trees, and some more tender herbaceous perennials (those that die back in fall and regrow in spring.) These often benefit from pruning, mulching, and/or some sort of protective covering. Ceramic pots are also prone to cracking in freezing temps, so consider moving them closer to your home and/or wrapping them in winterizing fabric or even bubble wrap before a deep freeze. For tips on what to protect and how to do it, check out THIS handy guide from our friends at Swanson's Nursery.
6. Inspect and Clean Your Fireplace (Gas ones too!)
Whether you have a gas or wood-burning fireplace, Fall is a great time to make a visual inspection to make sure they're up to snuff before you start lighting your cozy Autumn fires or winter yule log. Basic things to look for include, missing or cracked chimney caps, flues that might be clogged with debris - or a birds nest - and that your interior safety doors or chain shields are in good repair. Read more about what to look for HERE.
7. Upgrade or Service Your Furnace
You may question whether you REALLY need to get your HVAC system serviced yearly - but I'm going to just say that it's a good idea. First off, it keeps your unit under warranty, which is always a good thing just in case. Secondly, changing filters keeps your family healthier - especially during the colder months when we're indoors the most. And finally, it can save you money both on your heating bills, and by extending the life of your unit. I'd get a few quotes from different outfits - and make sure to clarify what is included in their service. If your unit is more than 10 years old, it might be time to shop around for a new one, before it fails you when you need it most. For more info on why you should get yours serviced and what they typically look for, check THIS page out.
8. Check Your Attic (and Your Roof!)
This goes along with that energy audit above, but I'm going to double down on your attic and add in your roof too. We have a variety of home and roof designs around Puget Sound. From mid-century flat roofs and soaring asymmetrical ones, to more traditional peaked roofs with vents (or not). That means that there's a lot of different insulations and materials up there, that might never have been changed out. There's been so much innovation in the industry that I think it's worth getting a quote on updating your insulation - AND - getting someone up there inside and outside to check things over. Things like rodents or leaky flexi tubing from your bathroom exhaust fans can be seen pretty easily - but a pro is always a good choice to look for the non-obvious, but still important, details. Plus, roofing companies will often give you a visual inspection and estimate for free, so what do you have to lose? The roof over your head is a big deal - let's make sure we keep it sealed and keep your family warm and dry this winter. For attic air leak info read more HERE.
In the PNW we're often surrounded by tall, beautiful trees.... that fall down onto power lines, garages, homes, cars, you name it. So my bonus tip is to consider installing a whole home generator to back up your power through winter wind storms. If you can't afford that right now, consider asking your home insurance agent if you have coverage in case of wind and storm damage, and update your list of home valuables if you do!