Giant HVAC

Be sure to perform your annual home fall HVAC maintenance to prep your home before the colder season. Here are some HVAC maintenance tips you can easily do yourself for your home before winter.

First and most importantly, get your furnace and boiler inspected. Schedule an appointment with an HVAC expert to get your heating system checked and tuned up for the coming heating season. You will typically pay $50 to $100 for a checkup. It is highly recommended that you sign a contract now with a local reputable HVAC company ahead of time, rather than making numerous phone calls when the furnace quits on you and your family during a particularly frigid morning. Many companies offer monthly and annual service contracts. It is definitely money well spent and worth it, and it guarantees their service the same or by the next day. Change your furnace filters frequently too. But if you haven’t, now is the time. If your HVAC includes a built-in humidifier, make sure the contractor replaces that filter.

Make sure your home is more energy-efficient by adding new storm windows, insulation, and caulking around windows and doors, to save extra money in the long run. Have you thought of adding solar panels? They also help with letting natural sun and heat into your home. Lastly repair any cracked or broken windows around the entire house.

Do you own a generator? If a big storm is imminent, no store will carry a generator, so plan ahead and go buy one now just in case of emergencies this winter. Do your research first to be sure you get the one right for your family and home.

Seal air leaks. Grab a couple of tubes of color-matched exterior caulk and walk around  your home’s exterior, sealing up cracks between siding and trim, around door and window frames, and where wires and pipes enter your house. Preventing moisture from getting inside your walls is one of the most important and most affordable of all of your fall maintenance jobs. You’ll also seal air leaks that waste energy. Pick a nice day when temperatures are at least above 50 degrees so caulk flows easily.

Direct your drainage. Sometimes people do not pay much attention to the house drainage area until it is too late. Take a closer look at the soil around your foundation to make sure it slopes away from your house at least 6 vertical inches over 10 feet. You will keep water from soaking the soils around your foundation, which could lead to cracks and leaks. Make sure soil never touches your siding.

Remove garden hoses from faucets. Make this a top fall priority so a sudden cold snap doesn’t suddenly cause damage. Remove any and all garden hoses from all of your outdoor faucets this fall. Leaving hoses attached can cause water to back up in the faucets and in the plumbing pipes just inside your exterior walls. When freezing temperatures hit this winter, that water will freeze, expand, and crack and further damage your faucet or pipes. Turn off any shutoff valves inside on water supply lines that lead to your exterior faucets. This way you will not have minor leaks that may let water accidentally enter the faucet. Store the hoses in your basement, garage or shed.

Drain your sprinkler system. Autumn is the right time to drain your irrigation system. Buried irrigation lines can potentially freeze too, leading to broken sprinkler heads and busted pipes. Turn off the water to the system at the main valve first. Then shut off the automatic controller. Then open your drain valves to remove all the remaining water from the system. Remove any above-ground sprinkler heads and shake the leftover water out of them, then replace them. If you don’t have drain valves, then hire an irrigation company to blow out the system’s pipes with their compressed air.

De-gunk your gutters. Clogged rain gutters can cause ice dams, leading to expensive repairs. After the final leaves have fallen, clean your gutters to remove leaves, twigs, and other gunk. Make sure your gutters are not trapping water or sagging. Tighten downspout brackets and gutter hangers. Replace any worn or damaged downspouts and gutters. Your downspouts should extend at least 5 feet away from your house to prevent foundation problems. If they don’t, add downspout extensions; which are typically $10 to $20 each.

A plumbing vent stack usually is flashed with a rubber collar — called a boot — that may loosen or crack over time. They will wear out before your roof does, so be sure they are in good shape. Depending on how steep your roof is, a professional roofer will charge $75 to $150 to replace a boot as well.