September 30, 2020
You wouldn’t know it from recent heatwaves, but September 1 marked the first day of Santa Barbara County’s water year. That means — sooner rather than later — seasonal storms are on the way. And the best time to get your home prepped for winter is before the cold and rain arrive.
Even the best-built homes ought to get a preseason onceover. Catching and fixing potential problems early can save you lots of time and money down the road and will keep your home in better shape for years to come. Here’s our checklist —
- – Be aware of the drainage patterns around your property. Has landscaping or other garden work affected the way water is carried away from structures? For example, any built-up soil should be removed several inches below the weep screed or wood framing, and water should drain away from the structure.
- – In the garden and other areas around the property, uncover and clean out buried catch basins and drains. Make sure drainage pipes run freely. You can test them with water flow from a garden hose.
- – Inspect gutters, downspouts, drains, and basins to make sure they’re free of leaves and other debris that could cause clogs. If you haven’t already done so, consider installing gutter screens in order to reduce the accumulation of leaves and debris.
- – Plants tend to grow more slowly in winter, and the advent of the rainy season means less watering. If your irrigation system is on an automatic timer, recalibrate it to reduce irrigation watering times and frequency.
- – Even though it rains in winter, it’s no time to be wasting water, inside or out. Attend to any leaky faucets in kitchens, baths, or outdoor water connections, including hose bibs.
- – If you have a basement or attic, bring a flashlight and check the corners to make sure there are no signs of a leak. If you see water damage, try to determine where the problem originates, and take immediate steps to remedy. Unattended leaks can cause costly long-term damage.
- – To check your home’s resistance to cold weather, make a detailed inspection of doors and windows, inside and out. Check all other openings that might let in drafts, including vents, pipes, fireplaces, garages, crawl spaces, and attic stairs. Look carefully for ineffective seals, and repair or re-caulk all gaps. If you find worn insulation, replace it. Your goal should be a tight, energy-efficient home.
- – Make sure the filters on your furnace are clean or replaced, and that any dust or accumulated dirt is vacuumed away. This is also an opportune time to have the furnace serviced by a professional.
- – It’s also a good time to reacquaint yourself with all the utility shutoffs for your property, including circuit breakers, electrical shut-offs, and gas and water mains.
- – While you’re at it, think about safety. No one can predict an earthquake or fire, but there are some basic steps you can take to protect your home and belongings. For example, make sure your water heater is safety-strapped to the nearest wall. Do you have fire extinguishers on every floor? Are they charged to the appropriate level and easily accessible? Do you and every member of your household know how to use them?
- – You should have a smoke detector on every floor, or in every wing of your residence. Install fresh batteries and test them all.
This checklist covers a lot of bases, and could make for an interesting weekend project. For some homes, it represents a good overall inspection. For others — particularly larger estates — it’s a solid start. Either way, getting to know your property better and preparing for the eneviatibilites of nature is always a good call.