Fall is here--prime time for some seasonal upgrades to your property. These suggested fixes will protect your investment and save you money over the coming years.
1. Yearly Inspection of Furnace and Air Conditioner
Autumn is the perfect time to make sure that the heater or furnace on your property is working as it should. An inspection now can save you costly emergency repairs later, so the investment is worthwhile. Unless you are a heating and air conditioning specialist, hire a technician with the proper training to walk through the home and point out fixes and improvements.
One more tip: make sure the technician shows you how to change the filters so that you can do it yourself in the future.
2. Change the Filters of Heaters and Air Conditioners
Dirty filters should be changed so that heated or cooled air flows through them efficiently. How often? According to the government's Energy Star website, every three months at a minimum--but even more often when the heating, ventilation, and air conditioning system is working hard. Change the filters when they're dirty, even if it's only been a month. This not only keeps room temperatures comfortable without overworking the equipment, but it reduces utility bills. The HVAC system will last longer and need less maintenance because clean filters keep dirt from building up inside the machinery.
3. Clean Out Rain Gutters
Rain gutters and downspouts should be cleaned once or twice a year. Birds' nests, leaves, and other debris can clog a gutter so that water can't run through it and drain away. The water then pools and can seep into your house or apartment, damaging ceilings and walls or causing mildew or mold. Those are all expensive problems to fix. You're far better off to avoid them by hosing down and cleaning the rain gutters regularly, or paying someone to climb up and do this.
4. Check Weatherstripping around Windows and Doors
Weatherstripping is a do-it-yourself fix for many landlords, although you can certainly pay someone to do the job. Proper weatherizing saves money on utility bills and keeps the home comfortable and dry. Energy.gov, a website maintained by the U.S. Department of Energy, provides how-to guides on checking for air leaks, installing weatherstripping, and caulking around windows and doors.
5. Test Smoke Detectors
Testing each smoke detector in a home should be done every month, according a fact sheet put out by the Federal Emergency Management Agency. Batteries for a smoke detector should last about one year. While monthly testing could be left to your tenants, changing the batteries is something a landlord can and should do.
Most experts advise putting in fresh batteries twice a year and testing the alarms after each installation. Unless you live in Arizona or Hawaii (states that don't observe daylight saving time), tying the test to the spring and fall time change is a good memory jog.
Not only do these devices save lives, but in many areas, the law demands they be in good working order, so don't skip this simple task. Allstate has a quick tutorial if you are unsure about how to test smoke detectors.
Want more advice? The Energy Star site has a list of common home problems--such as drafts and dampness, peeling paint, or condensation on windows--and their possible causes and solutions. Remember, the house or building you own comprises a big investment of your money. You want to keep it healthy with regular maintenance so that, years from now, the investment is still performing for you.
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