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Fall is in the air! Are you ready?

Your roof protects the entire interior of a home, that means your kids, pets, and valuables! So you want it to be sturdy and able to withstand anything thrown at it, including the soon to be rain, ice and snow.

Damage to your roof can be caused by high winds among other issues, allowing rain, ice dams, and snow to cause severe damage to the structure of your home.

Ice Damn

Did you know close to 50% of homeowners file roofing claims annually? However, not all damage is created equally, at least according to your insurance policy. In Alaska, you can’t make certain claims, such as damage from a tree branch touching your roof causing damage over time.

To protect your home, structure and its precious contents do a Fall inspection and regular preventative maintenance. Don’t stop at the roof, do it all!

Checklist

Here is a brief check list to help winter-proof your home or cabin.

Roofing
Visually inspect the roof and look for missing shingles, bubbles or tears in membranes of flat roofing, and dents or holes in metal roofing.
Ensure the flashing around fireplaces, skylights, and elevation changes are intact and waterproof.
Rain gutters should be free of debris allowing sufficient drainage and protecting from the potential of ice dams and freeze issues.
Other precautions include checking for dead tree branches that could fall under the weight of heavy snow and ice conditions and damage your roof and/or power lines.
Ensuring air vents are open decreases the possibility of mold and moisture issues in attic spaces.
Snap a photo of these areas for your insurance records, as these could be useful in the event of filing a claim.

Once satisfied with the condition of your roof, focusing on your exterior windows and doors can increase the energy efficiency of your home and save you money over the long winter months.

Windows and Doors
Check all the weather-stripping around windows and doorframes for leaks to prevent heat loss. Replace weather-stripping, if necessary.
Replace all screen doors with storm doors.
Replace all window screens with storm windows.
Examine wooden window frames for signs of rot or decay. Repair or replace framing to maintain structural integrity.
Check for drafts around windows and doors. Caulk inside and out, where necessary, to keep heat from escaping.
Inspect windows for cracks, broken glass, or gaps. Repair or replace, if needed.

Interior
Inside your home you will want to ensure all smoke and carbon monoxide detectors are maintained properly.
Monthly tests are recommended by pressing the test button to ensure the alarm is working properly. (Alaska statistics show in 2013 alone 39% of structure fires were results of faulty or not installed smoke detection systems)
Consider your fall inspection the time to replace the batteries in your Carbon monoxide and Smoke detectors.
Clean the face of the detectors with your vacuum cleaners without removing covers.

Winter heating costs can be reduced by ensuring heating systems are in good working order and possible hazards may be identified by a quick visual inspection.

Heating, Ventilating, and Air Conditioning
For fireplaces and wood bringing stoves you should inspect the firebox and flue system and clean any soot or creosote and ensure there aren’t any cracks or voids that could cause a fire hazard.

Trust me, you DO NOT want your chimney blazing and red hot while you are freaking out because the creosote is on fire! Not a fun experience but also a good reminder to keep a fire extinguisher handy!

Check fireplace for drafts. If it’s cold despite the damper being closed, the damper itself may be warped, worn, or rusted. Consider installing a Chimney Balloon into the flue to air seal the area tightly.
Replace the air filter in your furnace for maximum efficiency at the start of the winter season and every 3 months to improve indoor air quality.
Remove air conditioners from windows or cover them with insulated liners, to prevent drafts.
To increase efficiency replacing old thermostats with programmable units saves on heating costs.
Change the direction of ceiling fans to the reverse or clockwise position; this will blow warm air down to the floor for improved energy efficiency and comfort.
Examine exposed ducts in the attic, basement, and crawl spaces, and use a sealant to plug up any leaks.

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