Archive for October, 2020

How To Prepare Your Brooklyn Home For Fall 2020

Thursday, October 15th, 2020

Fall has arrived and it is time to prepare your Brooklyn home before winter comes. It seems it was just the beginning of summer, and then I blinked, and we are talking about preparing for winter.

Front steps of Brooklyn home decorated for fall.

An essential part of homeownership is the proper maintenance of your home. Many of the items I see that turn up on home inspections are merely delayed maintenance. I often hear the homeowner remark how they wish they would have done it sooner so that they could enjoy the repairs also.

Proper preparation can save you potential problems later. You have heard the saying, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” That means taking the time to get things done before they become a problem will save you from the expense and frustration if you must make repairs.

Home maintenance may not be the most exciting way to spend a weekend, but it will be time well invested. Preventative maintenance can save you the unpleasantness of dealing with an emergency and will help prolong the life of the components of your home.

Create a plan, purchase any supplies you will need, and get to work!

There are areas inside and outside your Brooklyn home that will need your attention. Let’s look at some critical areas requiring attention before the cold weather sets in.

You will want to pay attention to the exterior of your home before the temperatures plummet. Completing the exterior work now will save you from freezing when something becomes an issue during the cold winter.

  • Gutters – Watching the leaves change color and fall from the trees is a favorite Fall activity. However, if those leaves fall into your gutter, you will want to be sure to remove them and clean your gutters. Sticks and other debris can also settle in your gutters and lead to blockages. Potential water damage inside and outside your home can result from such blockages. When your gutters are clogged, the water has no way to be diverted away from your house. The result can be rotten wood on the roof or facia. Rodents, insects, and birds can make a home in the leaves and cause havoc for you. If the water is not being diverted away from your home, it can damage your foundation.
  • Roof  – Along with proper gutter maintenance, you need to be sure your roof is ready for the winter weather. Take a good look at the roof shingles to ensure there are no missing or damaged ones. Clear all debris from the roof. Check the flashing to be sure it is not loose or needs to be repaired. As part of the roof maintenance, you also want to check your attic to ensure proper insulation and ventilation. The attic can affect the longevity of your roof. This is one area that you may want to spend the money to hire a professional to avoid the dangers of climbing out on your roof.
  • Outside Faucets and Irrigation Systems – Turn off the water source to your outdoor faucets and sinks. Open the tap and allow the water to drain out of the lines. Outdoor sinks may need an extra step of adding an antifreeze solution. Winterizing your sprinkler system is a more complicated process. It would be wise to hire a professional to maintain your sprinkler system.
  • Walkways – Take a good look at sidewalks and stairs to your home. Are there any cracks or loose areas that could cause a tripping hazard? It is essential to keep these areas clear of snow and ice during the winter months for your safety and others safety. Be sure to make any repairs now before the snow starts falling.
  • Outdoor Furniture – Proper care of your outdoor furniture will extend the life of your purchase. If you have storage space indoors, it is better to move the outdoor furniture inside during the harsh winter months. Cover the furniture with special covers or tarps if you cannot get the furniture indoors. Check throughout the winter that the coverings have not come loose or blown off.
  • Landscaping – Your exterior plants also need attention in preparation for winter. Remove any annual plants that are at the end of their life. Prune other plants as recommended to keep things looking tidy and preventing any unnecessary damage to the plant. Remove any weeds now and fertilize the soil if needed. Divide any perennials that need attention. If necessary, do one final cutting of the lawn. And when finished, clean and store your gardening tools, so they are ready for spring when you are anxious to get back in that garden.
  • Spring Bulbs – You may want to plant spring flower bulbs. If so, be sure to plant before the ground freezes. Getting them in the ground to allow them to establish their roots is important. The extra time spent planting your bulbs will provide you with joy in the spring as you start to see them sprouting. We all look for these signs of life emerging in the spring.
  • Leaves and Debris – Raking leaves is not quite as romantic as portrayed in the movies. Especially after you have performed this task several times throughout the Fall. It is vital to do a final clean up after all the leaves have fallen. Leaves that coat sidewalks and driveways can become a hazard and a haven for insects and unwanted critters. Also, check for other debris that should be cleared throughout the winter.
  • Lighting – Clean the fixtures to make sure that the light can illuminate the outdoors. Replace any burned-out bulbs. Consider replacing your bulbs with LED lightbulbs that are more energy efficient. Check the wiring to be sure there are no exposed or fraying wires. Adjust the lighting fixtures if needed. Time and elements can cause lighting fixtures to become misaligned. This ounce of prevention will keep your home safer, enhance its beauty at night, and keep intruders and vandals away.

Some projects will need to be addressed both inside and outside of your home. Focus on the exterior tasks first, but do not forget to take care of the indoor aspect later.

  • Seal Openings – Finding the gaps, cracks, and openings that allow air to penetrate your home and sealing them will save you the discomfort of drafts. It will also save you money on your heating expenses. Examine areas where different material types meet. A common area is around windows. Also, pay attention to areas where plumbing and wiring enter your home. On the interior, pay attention to areas where water is used. Concentrate on areas where the tub/shower meets the surround, where the sink meets the counter, and where the counter meets the backsplash. Check all doors and windows to be sure the weather stripping is not dry and brittle. Replace any caulking and weatherstripping as necessary.
  • Fireplace – The ambiance of a fire during a cold winter evening creates a cozy atmosphere. To make that relaxing and enjoyable experience, be sure to maintain your fireplace regularly. Whether you have a wood-burning or a gas fireplace, regular maintenance is required. Chimney maintenance may be necessary if you have a wood-burning fireplace or a gas fireplace that is vented through your chimney. Be sure the chimney has a cap to prevent debris and critters from entering. Check for cracks. Hire a chimney sweep to clean your chimney as recommended. Your interior maintenance is dependent on whether you have a wood-burning fireplace or a gas fireplace. Gas fireplaces need to be cleaned and checked periodically.
  • Storage Areas – Storage spaces can quickly become dumping grounds for the items we are not sure whether to keep or give away. Before storing away your summer items, take some time to clean the storage spaces inside and outside your home. Clear the area first and sort things into one of three different categories. The three types are keep, donate or discard, and repair. Next, clean the space. Now you can start placing items back into the area that you have decided to keep. Quickly handle the donate, discard, and repair items so they do not clutter your home.

Turn your attention to the inside of your Brooklyn home after the exterior items are completed. Addressing the interior will help you to maintain a comfortable and safe environment.

  • Furnace – The furnace is the most essential appliance in your home during our long Brooklyn winters. Make sure your furnace is running in tip-top shape before you are dependent on it for the full-blown heating season. Many homeowners choose a do-it-yourself approach. Be sure to refer to your owner’s manuals for the right way if you decide to DIY it. Hire a licensed professional to clean and check your furnace. Be sure to change the filters as needed throughout the heating season.
  • Smoke and CO Detectors – Smoke detectors and Carbon Monoxide detectors are known to save lives. Add any necessary devices throughout your home. Recommended areas include sleeping areas, common hallways, and living areas and should be installed on every level of your home. Be sure to test your alarms monthly. You can find a tip sheet on the New York City Fire Department website.
  • Ceiling Fans – Why do so many of us procrastinate cleaning those ceiling fan blades until we turn them off as the weather cools down? Your ceiling fan should be running in a clockwise direction to help pull the warm air from the ceiling down in the winter. Using a pillowcase to clean the blades is a genius idea. Simply slip the pillowcase over the fan blade and gently wipe it off. The dust remains in the pillowcase! Use a dust-repelling furniture spray to help prevent build-up. Clean the motor housing, light bulbs, and glass globes as well.
  • Thermostat – Consider installing a programable thermostat if you do not already have one. You will save money because you are not heating your home when you are not there or sleeping in the winter months. Recommendations are to lower the heat by 10 degrees when you are not home or are asleep. Program your thermostat to lower the temperature 20 – 30 minutes before you regularly leave home or 60 minutes before you go to bed. Set the thermostat to increase the temperature 30 minutes before you return home or wake up, and you will enjoy a comfortable home.
  • Entry – Create a spot by your front door and any other access your family uses to enter the home for shoes. This will save your floors from tracking the mud, water, snow, and ice our shoes bring in with us. Adding a drip tray to the entry can prevent you from cleaning floors quite as often. You can purchase a drip tray in many home stores. Add a decorative touch to your entryway by filling the drip tray with pebbles or stones to prevent the shoes and boots from sitting in the wet slush.

And lastly, there are a few items that will provide you with peace of mind. These are items that we often overlook but are well worth the investment of your time.

  • Pantry – We have learned to expect the unexpected. Take time to organize your pantry and restock non-perishable items you may need throughout the winter. Keep your frequently used staple items on hand. Consider stocking canned and dried beans, canned vegetables, canned or jar sauces, broth, rice, pasta, dehydrated fruits or vegetables, flour, sugar, shortening, canned meats, and condiments. Avoiding a trip to the store when an impending storm is announced will be a welcome relief. Remember to stock items such as matches or lighters, candles, flashlights, and batteries.
  • Medicine and First Aid Supplies – Unfortunately, we rarely get a warning when we are going to need first aid items or catch a common illness. Check your supply of bandages, ice packs, pain relievers, cold medicine, throat lozenges, vitamins, and supplements. After you have completed your inventory, restock the missing or low items. Do not forget to stock for your children’s and pets’ needs also.
  • Fire Escape Plan – A fire escape plan is also an important step. If you have not created a plan for your household, take some time to examine your home’s layout. Determine if you need to purchase any equipment such as fire escape ladders. Be sure all members of your household are oriented to this plan.

Bonus Tip

Don’t forget to prepare your car for the winter months. Regular maintenance of your vehicle is a given. You will need to stock your vehicle for unexpected winter weather. Create an emergency kit to keep in your car. Include flashlights, blanket, hand warmers, water, snacks, shovel, cat litter or sand, tool kit, jumper cables, and an extra set of clothing. Hopefully, you never need to use these items. It is always wise to be prepared.

I am sure this seems like a lot to add to your “to-do” list. You will find it to be time well spent in the long run. Regular maintenance around your home will help to keep everything running smoothly.

If you do not feel you have the expertise to address some of these items, professionals can certainly help you with these tasks. Do your research before hiring any professional. Ask friends or coworkers for references to someone they can recommend who has done satisfactory work for them. You can find some great advice on the Better Business Bureau’s website concerning hiring a contractor.

Plan your winter activities after your “to do” list is complete. You will enjoy the fruits of your labor by having the time for the things you “want” to do with friends and family. Enjoy your Brooklyn home this winter!

Contact me, Charles D’Alessandro, your Brooklyn Real Estate Agent with Fillmore Real Estate. As a Brooklyn real estate agent with over 30 years of experience, I can help both buyers and sellers achieve their real estate dreams.

Our office is completely shut down and committed to your safety during the COVID-19 health crisis in compliance with the State of New York public health policies. I can be reached by phone at (718) 253-9500 ext. 1901 or by email at [email protected].

Charles D'Alessandro

Charles D’Alessandro
Your Brooklyn Real Estate Agent
718-253-9600 ext. 1901