If you only do five home care tasks in September, here are the ones that we recommend you do that will help you to save energy, maintain safety, and avoid problems this winter.
FURNACE AND WATER HEATER ANNUAL SERVICE
This task involves scheduling a trained service professional to do a thorough inspection, cleaning and adjustment of your furnace and water heater. There are two important reasons for having this done each year:
it helps maintain the energy efficiency of these appliances.
This is a task that is best left to a trained professional. However, here is a checklist of questions that you should be sure to ask your furnace service technician furnace questions checklist. We suggest that you do this task in September for two reasons, first because if a problem is found, you will have time to get it remedied before the heating season, secondly, your service provider will likely get very busy as the heating season approaches.
TESTING GFI OUTLETS
Have you ever noticed that the outlets in your bathroom, kitchen and outdoors have little "test" buttons on them? These are special outlets called “ground fault interrupters” or “GFIs.” They are placed in locations where there can be water present, and their purpose is to automatically shut off if there is a potential for an electrical shock. So for example, if you are using a hair dryer and you are on a wet floor, then rather than shocking you, the GFI will trip off. The problem is that over time, the mechanism inside of the outlet can stop working. So it is very important to test each of these outlets to be sure that they are working properly. To test a GFI outlet, just plug a small electrical appliance into the outlet, and then press the “test” button on the outlet. The appliance should immediately shut off. If it does not, then this outlet should not be used until the GFI has been replaced (helpful accessory: GFI testers).
CHECK OUTSIDE DRYER VENT FLAP
At least once a year you should check your outside dryer vent to be sure that it is not clogged and stuck in the open position. When your dryer operates it blows hot exhaust air out of your home through vent piping. This hot air carries lint with it which can accumulate around the vent where the pipe exits your home. This vent has a flap that opens when the hot air is blowing, and then closes when the dryer stops blowing the air. But as lint builds up around the vent flap, it can cause the flap to get stuck open, allowing pests to enter your home, and increasing your energy costs by allowing air conditioned and/or heat to be lost from your home.
OUTSIDE LIGHTING INSPECTION
If any of your outside light fixtures have bulbs that have burned out, then September is a good month to replace them before the weather gets bad, and daylight hours start getting shorter. While you are checking your outside lighting fixtures for burnt out bulbs, you should also take the opportunity to: clear away any dirt and debris; check for any broken connections or fixtures; and clean the glass fixtures so that you get the most benefit from the light bulbs. One last tip is that you might want to consider replacing your bulbs with more efficient compact fluorescent light bulbs.
SMOKE DETECTOR INSPECTION
At least once a year you should clean, test and change the batteries in your smoke detectors. Smoke detectors can only protect your family if they are working properly, and cleaning them, testing them and replacing their batteries is how to ensure that they will be working properly to alert your family in case of a fire emergency in your home (helpful accessory: cordless dust busters). To clean your smoke detectors, gently use an extension attachment for your vacuum cleaner to remove dust and cobwebs. Next, if your smoke detector uses a battery, then at least once a year you should open the detector and replace the battery. And finally, you should test your smoke detectors each month by pushing the button on it to see if the alarm sounds. But never use a match or smoke to test your detector, as this can shorten its life.
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