Fall 2012 - Seasonal home maintenance may not be the most exciting aspect of home ownership, but it is one of the most important. With the falling temperatures and falling leaves of the season, autumn brings its own unique challenges.
It's always nice to curl up in front of a roaring fire or crank the heat up to combat the chilly fall weather, but without the proper maintenance, you could end up with serious safety hazards. This fall home maintenance checklist from Travelers Insurance is a great resource for maintaining your New Jersey home and preventing fire.
- Your furnace should be cleaned and inspected annually by a qualified HVAC technician. Make sure the filter is cleaned or replaced.
- Make sure anything flammable (from paint and chemicals to lawn and power equipment) is stored well away from water heaters and wiring .
- According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission, there are, on average, over 26,000 chimney fires a year. Many of these fires could be prevented by having the chimney cleaned annually by a professional to removed creosote buildup.
- Leaves can easily build up in your gutters or on the roof, creating a fire hazard. All it takes is a little spark, so be sure to clean your gutters and downspouts regularly.
- In 2010, an estimated 16,800 home fires in the US were caused by clothes dryers and washing machines. Most of those involved clothes dryers, and many of them were due to buildup of dust and lint in the clothes dryer exhaust duct. Make sure to not only clean out the lint trap with each use, but also occasionally clean the dryer exhaust duct and behind/under the appliance as well.
- Do a walk-through of your home, inspecting electrical outlets for frayed wires, loose-fitting plugs, and other potential fire hazards.
- When using seasonal decorations, remember never to overload electrical outlets, fuse boxes, power strips, or extension cords.
- Make sure you have a fire extinguisher easily accessible. They do expire after a few years, so be sure to check the expiration date to ensure it will actually work when you need it.
- Have a smoke detector on each level of your home. Test your smoke detectors monthly, and be sure to change the batteries at least once a year.