Categorized | Opinion

Fall to Winter the Right Way

By Teresa D’AmoreTeresa D'Amore photo

Editor’s Note: Teresa D’Amore is a native of Arkansas and has called Memphis home for more than 25 years.  Teresa is the General Manager for the Memphis division of America’s Home Place, Inc. located in Gainesville Georgia.   After years in commercial and residential construction, Teresa  decided to share the many trade secrets of home upkeep and repairs to homeowners throughout the Memphis area.  Teresa lives with her husband and is the mother of two children and four step-children.
It’s hard for those of us living in the sweltering heat of the south to imagine preparing our home for winter.  As we wind down the cookouts and beach vacations, we must ramp up preparing our homes in early fall for the harsh conditions of winter.  Here are a just a few must do to-dos.
Think of these tasks as dressing your home properly for winter. We all remember the scene from “A Christmas Story” where the mother wraps her son in layers so thick he looks like a tick about to pop. We don’t have to go to that extreme, but you wouldn’t stand outside in the elements improperly dressed, and neither should your home.
Start with protecting the extremities by caulking around windows and doors. If you can see daylight around a closed door or window, add or replace caulk or weather stripping.  The rule of thumb to remember is a gap wider than the width of a nickel needs caulk.  This maintenance not only prevents loss of heat but also deters unwanted pest from calling your house “home” for the winter.
Your roof is a cozy hat for your home. It shouldn’t be frayed or full of holes.  Examine your roof for damaged or missing shingles as those areas may leak during storms or melting snow.  If you’re not a fan of heights, there’s no shame in using binoculars to do your exam and hire a professional to do the needed repairs.
A clean roof is equally as important.  Leaves, pine needles and branches hold moisture and can obstruct gutters causing water to pool; damaging roofing and wood trim. Take away debris carefully not to remove shingle pebbles as these are needed to protect your roof.
Anyone who has fired up their furnace on that first truly cold morning only to find that it is in need of repair has learned the benefit of testing their unit prior to when it’s actually needed.  Giving your unit a trial run not only saves you from that miserable morning trying to dress in what feels like subzero temperatures, it also avoids the 3-4 day delay you may encounter during peak season.
Next, change your filters monthly and for HEPA filters; change more frequently to help your unit run at peak efficiency.
Last but not least; while your fireplace is a great source of ambience, it can be a hazard if not properly maintained. Have your fireplace inspected and cleaned by a professional chimney sweep.  The type of wood that you burn will determine the frequency in which this should be done. Creosote and other wood-burning by-products accumulate inside the flue over time. Soft woods and seasoned woods necessitate more frequent cleaning.  Ensure that your flue opens properly before lighting your first fire.
These are just a few of the home maintenance tips that I hope to bring to you over the coming months.  Stay tuned for additional seasonal maintenance tips and other general home help.
Teresa D’Amore, General Manager – America’s Home Place, Inc.

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August 2013
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