Chimney Sweeps Still Exist: Why Autumn Maintenance Protects Your Home

The kids are back in school, early morning frost clings to the last remnants of green summer grass, squirrels gather nuts for their winter slumber, and leaves turn ...

Chimney Sweeps Still Exist: Why Autumn Maintenance Protects Your Home Close
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Chimney Sweeps Still Exist: Why Autumn Maintenance Protects Your Home

Posted by Krista Kehoe on Tuesday, October 9th, 2012 at 9:19am.

The kids are back in school, early morning frost clings to the last remnants of green summer grass, squirrels gather nuts for their winter slumber, and leaves turn a brilliant shade of orange, fall majestically in the cool breeze, and unmercifully clog up your gutters. It's time for autumn home maintenance!

Before old man winter blows into Calgary this fall, it's a good idea to take care of a few maintenance items on your home. Let's start on the roof, shall we?

Clean those gutters!

Over the course of the year, leaves, pine needles, dirt, and debris can clog up your gutters and downspouts. Break out the ladder and use a hose to spray out any rubbish that may have collected over the year. If your gutters and downspouts aren't free to empty, you'll end up with ice buildup, potentially bending or permanently damaging your gutters. If you're afraid of heights, or ladders, consider having some leaf guards professionally installed so your gutters won't get clogged in the first place.

Seal those leaks!

On average, a typical North American home has enough leaky windows and doors to add up to a 3 square meter hole in the wall. You could drive a chuck wagon through there! Take advantage of the breezy autumn weather and take stock of the leaks on the inside of your house. Simply light a candle, or better yet, an incense stick (there's a few great shops on Kensington that sell those), and examine your homes most common draft prone areas: door and window frames, recessed lighting, cable and electrical outlets. Install door sweeps or apply caulk to the culprits. On the outside of your house, seal up any noticeable leaks with outdoor caulk or masonry sealer for bricked areas. Your wallet will thank you. (Your gas or electricity provider will not.)

Fire up that furnace!

Nothing is worse than finding out that your heat doesn't work during that first cold snap of the year. Turn on your furnace now to make sure that it's still in working order after sitting idle for the past 4 months. It might be a good idea to contact an HVAC professional to give your furnace and ductwork a once over, eliminating any potential problems down the line, and ultimately saving yourself money. If you're really keen, stock up on a few furnace filters before the snow flies. A dirt clogged filter reduces the efficiency of your furnace, and in extreme cases, can cause a fire.

Check out that chim-chim-iney!

If you have a fireplace, and you don't want your house bursting into flame on Christmas morning, you may want to call in a chimney sweep. Yes, they still exist. Chimneys don't typically need to be cleaned every year, but it's still a good idea to have it inspected before each season. Wood stoves, on the other hand, should be swept more than once a year. In both cases, creosote is extremely flammable, and can build up in your chimney over time. It can also cause mortar to rot, weakening the foundation of your chimney. Pro tip: Get that guy you called to install those leaf guards on your gutters to also install a protective cap for your chimney. It'll keep debris, small animals, and mythical jolly gift givers from falling into your fireplace.

Check your alarms!

Now's as good a time as any to make sure all your smoke, carbon monoxide, and, if you have them, radon detectors are in tip top shape. Smoke detectors, specifically, have a lifespan of about 10 years according to fire officials, and using the "test" button on older detectors just doesn't cut it. Use actual smoke, say, from a freshly extinguished candle, or your spouse's Sunday pot roast to make sure it's actually up to snuff. If you have a fire extinguisher in the house, make sure it's placed where it's supposed to be, and that it still works.

Krista Kehoe, Calgary real estate agent & REALTORĀ®

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