September 22nd marks the official start of Fall with the Fall Equinox. Equinox occurs at the exact moment the Sun crosses the celestial equator….but most of us know it as a time to get our Pumpkin Spice Latte on and get out our “cute clothes”…but there is so much more to the coming of fall. It signifies a time of year for cycles to begin dramatic changes and for nature to begin the journey to winter’s slumber. Autumn brings a mystique and fantasy more than any other season. With vivid colors and vibrant flavors, it is truly a time of joy and contentment. In this two-part blog series, we cover all bases from the conventional to the conversational.
Conventional: Preparing Your Home
Getting your home prepared for Autumn weather in SoCal is important because as we transition from Fall to Winter, we can often experience some random weather patterns. Below are a few things you can do to help get your home set for the change in seasons.
Maintaining your home’s drainage system both internally and externally is very important. Clogged or damaged gutters can lead to damage to your home’s exterior surfaces as well as allow water to collect in basements, under-house entrances and weaken foundation structures. Because most gutter systems are prone to corrosion and rust, it is a good idea to add a mesh guard to your gutters so that water cannot collect and speed the damage process. Our good friends at HGTV offer up some great tips and instructions on cleaning your gutters.
Make sure all filters in your home are clean and fresh. While spring is the season for allergens and free-flying debris, Fall can bring its share of allergens and debris as well. Filters in your HVAC systems are extremely important to maintain and keep clean. Because you may be spending more time indoors due to inclement weather, you will want to ensure that the air quality within your home is clean and fresh. Furnace filters can trap dust and become clogged. This will not only will decrease your air quality but will also keep your heating system from running at an optimal level and reflect on your utility bill. Most filters can be vacuumed and wiped clean, while others need a full replacement. Whenever in doubt, reach out to a good HVAC technician for inspection and assistance.
Keeping seals around your doors and windows is a great way to keep out the cold weather and allergens from the home. When these seals are compromised, they can cause your utility bills to soar, not to mention allow any critters seeking shelter from the colder weather to enter your home. Make sure to seal gaps and cracks around your doors and windows with weather-stripping, caulk and other types of sealants that will help keep things locked up nice and tight. A few ways you can tell if you have a seal problem with your doors or windows:
- Slide a strip of paper through; if it slides easily, you have a problem.
- Hold a lighted candle near the door or window frame (make sure not to get the flame near anything flammable). If the flame flickers or spats at any point, you have air flowing through.
You can also make sure that any entry point into your home is sealed as well. This goes for cable, phone, electrical and gas access points. Usually a little caulk will do the trick.
Make sure that your roof is inspected at the start of fall. A damaged or compromised roof can cause you a big headache should the rain begin. You can try to inspect yourself, but it may be safer and easier to have a professional inspect your roof and vent work.
Make sure to inspect your flue for any blockages or excessive creosote build-up as it is flammable. If it is allowed to accumulate in your flue or chimney, you can run the risk of a house fire. It is always a good idea to have your chimney inspected annually for build-up, blockages or damage. If you use a wood stove, you will want to have this flue inspected after each cord of wood burned. It is a good idea to remember spring and all the little birdies who may have built nests in your chimney, so you can have a build-up of debris. Make sure to exercise the damper which is the metal plate that opens and closes the flue.
It is always a good idea to do a yearly top-to-bottom check of your home’s safety features. You can use this occasion to also update your household on evacuation plans for any emergency. Here is a list to keep in mind when planning this:
Smoke and CO detectors – Replace the batteries, clean (if there are cobwebs or debris) and test. Make sure each room has a detector – INCLUDING basements and garages.
Fire extinguishers – Every home should have at least one fire extinguisher rated for all fire types (look for an A-B-C rating on the label). If you can only afford one, keeping it in or near the kitchen is the most effective place. Make sure to get it inspected, updated and charged. Note: Fire extinguishers that are more than six years old should be replaced. Mark the date of purchase on the new unit with a permanent marker.
Fire/Earthquake/Flood escape plans – It is a good idea to have two exit paths for each room in your home. Make sure windows are not completely blocked and to keep a rope ladder in the upper floors in the event a window escape is necessary. Always review these strategies with your entire household as well as guests who will be staying with you.
General Clean – In with the good and out with the old is a saying that rings true. Make sure to eliminate any accumulations of periodicals, household chemicals (Check with your state or local Environmental Protection Agency about the proper way to discard dangerous chemicals.) or any oversaturation of items you may have. Make sure that all flammable materials and poisons are in approved, clearly labeled containers and make sure to keep a clear space around heaters, furnaces, and other heat-producing appliances.
If you’d like more information on the San Fernando Valley or Los Angeles, or to have help looking for your next home, please feel free to reach out! I’m happy to help, no obligation.