Fall Home Maintenance Checklist

I’m sure I put this list out last fall, but it’s worth looking at again every year.  With the cooler weather, it’s got me thinking about winter (gasp!) and what to do to get prepared.  Here are a few outdoor items:

1.  Clear leaves and debris from gutters.

2.  Check to be sure the gutter extensions are firmly attached and carrying the water a good distance from the house.

3.  Study the grading around your home. Is is adequately slanted to carry water away?  Fill in the low areas.

4.  Spray water on the roof to see if there are any leaks, loose or damaged areas, or disconnected downspouts.  Check to see that water doesn’t overflow the gutters and that it channels away from the house.

5.  Caulk around windows and doors where water could get in, especially at the top.  Use acrylic caulk if you would paint the area, or silicon if you don’t need to paint.  This will give you good savings on heating bills.

6.  Check the chimney for loose bricks, gaps in the mortar, or other damage. Pull out those binoculars!

7.  Trim tree branches growing near the roof.  This will not only help keep them from wearing on the shingles, but keep animals off the roof or from nesting in the chimney.  Remove small trees and seedlings growing beside the foundation.

8.  Clean leaves and debris from around the air conditioner.  Turn the power off.  Don’t fully cover, as this provides a nesting place for rodents.

9.  Check the garage doors for good fit and operation.  Lubricate if needed.  Adjust auto reverse if needed.

10.  Check the caulking around the pipes, vents, and other wall penetrations.  Check dryer vent to make sure it’s not blocked and the outside flapper is working.

11.  Clean out window wells.  Consider adding window well covers for water control.

12.  If you have a sidewalk that butts up against the foundation, check to make sure the gap between the house and sidewalk is filled to avoid water penetration.

Preventing Ice Dams

How do ice dams occur?  They start when attic heat melts the snow next to the roofing.  The water then flows to the eaves, where it freezes and forms the ice dam.  As the process continues, the water/ice backs up under the roofing, causing damage.  Ice dams are common on houses with moderate roof slopes, limited insulation, and little ventilation.

Ice dams do not occur on unheated buildings, so the idea is to have a cold roof.  How to do this?  Make sure you have adequate ceiling and/or roof insulation and air flow in and out of the attic.

Insulation:  Ceiling or roof insulation of R-38 or more is the best.  Any gaps in the ceiling around wires, pipes, chimneys, etc. should be sealed before insulating.

Ventilation:  Most attics need about a square inch of ventilation for each square foot of ceiling, and vent areas should be placed low and high.  Plastic or cardboard air chutes can be installed between rafters near the soffit to prevent the insulation from blocking the air flow.

Temporary and Emergency Measures:  You can remove the snow with a "roof rake."  Don’t chop the ice or use a torch to get rid of the snow, you could damage the roof.  You can also use water from a garden hose or heater cables to make channels through the ice dam.

Of course, see your contractor for more detailed information and make sure you educate yourself before tackling any of these to avoid damaging your roof.  With snow and ice melting and refreezing this time of year, it’s a good idea to check it out!

Thanks to Inspeca-Homes, St. Paul.

Super Target or Neighborhood Store?

Target_carts_2 I admit it!  I was looking forward to the convenience of having a Super Target near by.  I was driving to Target and Rainbow every week anyway.  I might as well cut down on the mileage.

However, the new Super Target has been nothing but a disappointment.  It’s the most poorly run Target I’ve seen.  The don’t carry all the products that other Target’s carry, and they’re out of stock for half the items they do carry.  Every time I go, I leave more frustrated.

Then my friend said, "Why are you surprised?  It’s not a grocery store.  It’s a convenience store." 

Huh?  No it’s not.  They have lot’s of great stuff.  Right?  Well maybe not.  Now every time I go, I compare it to a convenience store.  He’s right.  It’s just bigger.  They have some food, but not everything you need.  They have some clothes, but not everything you need.  They have car supplies and sporting goods, but only the very basics.  And they have every possible salty or sweet snack that you don’t need in abundance.  It’s a convenience store.

Only it’s way more convenient to go to Oxendale’s. 

Sorry neighborhood stores.  I strayed.  But I’m back now.  I’ll leave my trips to Target for when I need cheap soda for a party.  If they have it in stock!

Fall Maintenance Tips

Here are a few things to do outside before it gets TOO cold:

1. Clear the gutters.

2.  Make sure the gutter extensions are attached securely and taking water a good distance away from the house.

3.  Make sure the grading around the house is sufficient.  Fill in low areas and make sure it’s slanted well to carry water away from the house.

4.  Look for gaps around windows and doors where water or air could get through, especially at the top.  Caulk those areas.  This will save on heating bills!

5.  Check the chimney for loose bricks, gaps in the mortar, or other damage.  Use binoculars!

6.  Trim branches of trees growing near the roof.  This will not only keep them from rubbing on the shingles, but will help keep animals off or nesting in your chimney.

7.  Clean leaves and other debris from around the air conditioner.  Turn the power off.  Don’t fully cover it so rodents can’t make a nest there.

8.  Check garage doors for good fit and operation.  Lubricate if needed.  Adjust auto reverse if needed.

9.  Check the caulking around pipes, vents, and other wall openings.  Check the dryer vent to make sure it’s not blocked and the outside flap is working.

10. Clean out window wells.  Consider adding covers for water control.