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Get your home winter ready with these simple steps! by SERVPRO of Chemung & Schulyer Counties

12/8/2016 (Permalink)

Community Get your home winter ready with these simple steps! by SERVPRO of Chemung & Schulyer Counties Get your home winter ready with these simple steps! by SERVPRO of Chemung & Schulyer Counties

Getting yourself ready for winter is a snap. Gloves? Check! Scarf? Right here. But readying your home for a long, cold season is another story. So, until someone invents a turtleneck sweater you can put around your house when it gets cold, there's some organizing to do. We've got the tips to help you.

Strategy for Saving

Organizing your home for winter can seem like an annoying and perhaps unnecessary chore. But the financial benefits will outweigh any feelings of being "put out." Winter heating costs can skyrocket if your windows are poorly insulated, your plumbing breaks, or if the heating system is out-of-date. Ensuring your home is prepped properly can save you a nice chunk of change while protecting your property for years to come. 

Break It Down

Looking at a giant to-do list is overwhelming. To save frustration, break it down into two or three jobs you can tackle over the next three to four weekends. First up, windows. Check each one in the house for drafts and insulation needs. The following week, inspect pipes to avoid an unfortunate burst in January. You can make things even easier by dividing the job among the family. Assign each person a room to inspect and report back on whether it's ready for winter.

Three Steps to a Safe Season

#1: Prep the Plumbing

Drain the water from your outdoor faucets and garden hoses and arrange to have any in-ground sprinkler pipes blown out. Roll up the garden hoses and store them inside. Identify any "problem" pipes that are prone to freezing in the house and consider using heat tape to keep them warm during extremely cold weather. If the worst happens, ensure everyone in the family knows how to turn off the water at the source. This will minimize leaking when and if a pipe bursts.

#2: Heat Things Up

Everyone enjoys cozy evenings by a crackling fire?  Ensure your fireplace is ready to provide warm nights all winter. Be sure to have the chimney inspected and cleaned by a professional before the first frost. Also, have a professional perform a routine check of the heating systems before cold weather arrives. This should include vacuuming the vents and other heating components. If your furnace has a filter, check to see if it needs replacing. For more energy savings, consider installing a setback thermostat that keeps the home cooler when you are asleep or away.

#3: Seal the Leaks

Keep drafts to a minimum this winter. If you have them, install storm windows and doors -- and don't overlook the basement. Add or replace worn weather stripping around the doors and windows and caulk any gaps. If doorstops are worn, replace them. If any pipes or ducts travel through an exterior wall, be sure to use caulking and weather-stripping around all entry points. These steps will block any potential entry points for cold air. That's an idea you can warm up to.

 

Winter is coming! Here are some ways you can prevent frozen pipes! by SERVPRO of Chemung & Schuyler Counties

12/2/2016 (Permalink)

Storm Damage Winter is coming! Here are some ways you can prevent frozen pipes! by SERVPRO of Chemung & Schuyler Counties Winter is coming! Here are some ways you can prevent frozen pipes! by SERVPRO of Chemung & Schuyler Counties

Within the last couple weeks tempatures have been plummeting fast and your pipes could be at serious risk. Water has a unique property in that it expands as it freezes. This expansion puts tremendous pressure on whatever is containing it, including metal or plastic pipes.

Preventing Frozen Pipes

Drain water from swimming pool and water sprinkler supply lines following manufacturer's or installer's directions.

Remove, drain, and store hoses used outdoors. Close inside valves supplying outdoor hose bibs. Open the outside hose bibs to allow water to drain. Keep the outside valve open so that any water remaining in the pipe can expand without causing the pipe to break.

Check around the home for other areas where water supply lines are located in unheated areas. Look in the basement, crawl space, attic, garage, and under kitchen and bathroom cabinets. Both hot and cold water pipes in these areas should be insulated.

Consider installing specific products made to insulate water pipes like a "pipe sleeve" or installing UL-listed "heat tape," "heat cable," or similar materials on exposed water pipes. Newspaper can provide some degree of insulation and protection to exposed pipes – even ¼” of newspaper can provide significant protection in areas that usually do not have frequent or prolonged temperatures below freezing.

During Cold Weather, Take Preventative Action

Keep garage doors closed if there are water supply lines in the garage.

Open kitchen and bathroom cabinet doors to allow warmer air to circulate around the plumbing. Be sure to move any harmful cleaners and household chemicals up out of the reach of children.

When the weather is very cold outside, let the cold water drip from the faucet served by exposed pipes. Running water through the pipe - even at a trickle - helps prevent pipes from freezing.

Keep the thermostat set to the same temperature both during the day and at night. By temporarily suspending the use of lower nighttime temperatures, you may incur a higher heating bill, but you can prevent a much more costly repair job if pipes freeze and burst.

If you will be going away during cold weather, leave the heat on in your home, set to a temperature no lower than 55° F.

If you find yourself in the situation where your pipes have burst call SERVPRO of Chemung & Schuyler Counties were always here to help!

5 Holiday Safety Tips By SERVPRO of Chemung & Schuyler Counties

11/28/2016 (Permalink)

Community 5 Holiday Safety Tips By SERVPRO of Chemung & Schuyler Counties 5 Holiday Safety Tips By SERVPRO of Chemung & Schuyler Counties

It’s that time of year again! Already the stores are jammed from one end to the other with holiday decorations, trinkets, treats and toys. I know I get wrapped up in the excitement just like everyone else. But while we’re sipping our cider and hanging the wreath, there are hazards lurking in your old decoration box in the attic. This is the perfect time of year to do a few safety checks so that the rest of your holidays are safe and stress free.

Follow these five tips for holiday safety:

1) Inspect those lights! A frayed wire is a recipe for disaster, especially if it’s wound around a drying up tree. Carefully inspect all holiday lights before you hang them to ensure they aren’t going to pose a fire hazard. There is nothing less jolly than a Christmas tree set ablaze.

2) Keep lights and wires away from young children and pets. Holiday lights can often contain PVC coatings and be tainted with lead. You wouldn’t want your little ones to be handling them and then sticking their hands in their mouth. This is an unexpected source of lead exposure that is easy to avoid. After you are done with your decorating, wash your hands thoroughly.

3) Replace lights with safer alternatives. The thing to look for when purchasing lights is a label that says RoHS (Reduction of Hazardous Substances) which means that no lead is used in making the lights. Some companies don’t have this label but will confirm their lead status if you ask. EnvironmentalLights.com carries a variety of LED holiday lights that are free of lead.

4) Be aware of toy recalls. It’s easy to pile the toys into your cart without a thought. But what happens if the scooter you bought for Billy has been recalled for a laceration hazard and you don’t know it? Investigating toy recalls is a worthy time investment when buying new or used toys for kids. You can subscribe to the Consumer Product Safety Commissions email list and you’ll get a digest that includes the weekly recalls of current toys. This way you’ll be alerted if something you bought pops up. You can also search SaferProducts.gov for toys and other items to see if anything you already have has been recalled in the past. It might just be a simple repair kit or it could be something more dangerous like lead paint. It’s worth it to check!

5) Check and replace smoke and carbon monoxide detection device batteries. This is the perfect time to test and check all your safety devices in your home. Replace batteries in your smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors during the holidays. It will keep you and your family safer and it will be easy to remember when you last replaced them.

Now that you have those holiday safety tips out of the way, you can refill your cider and put your feet up for a relaxing Holiday Season!

Call SERVPRO of Chemung & Schuyler Counties 24/7

NEW MOLD LAW 2016 by SERVPRO of Chemung & Schuyler Counties

10/20/2016 (Permalink)

Mold Remediation NEW MOLD LAW 2016 by SERVPRO of Chemung & Schuyler Counties NEW MOLD LAW 2016

The Department's new Mold Program, which is responsible for enforcing Article 32 of the New York State Labor Law, establishes licensing requirements and minimum work standards for professionals engaged in mold assessment and remediation. There are three main components to the new law:

 

  • Training: The Mold Program will protect consumers by requiring contractors to obtain appropriate training prior to being licensed to perform mold assessment, remediation or abatement services.

 

  • Licensing: Contractors will not be allowed to advertise or perform covered work without the required license, with limited exceptions such as home or business owners performing work on their own properties.

 

  • Minimum Work Standards: The Mold Program also establishes new minimum work standards for mold assessments and remediation activities by licensed professionals, including:

 

  • Protection against fraud by prohibiting the performance of both the assessment and remediation on the same property by the same individual;

 

  • Protection against fraud by requiring an independent mold assessment to define the scope of the remediation work;

 

  • Identification of disinfectant products, consistent with U.S. Environmental Protection Agency standards;

 

  • Provision of personal protection equipment to employees, as necessary;

 

  • Posted notice of the project and the contractor's licenses; and

 

  • Completion of a post-remediation assessment.

 

 SERVPRO Franchise Professionals have the training, protective gear, and specialized equipment necessary to handle your mold problem.

What to do when you find mold by SERVPRO of Chemung & Schuyler Counties

10/20/2016 (Permalink)

Mold Remediation What to do when you find mold by SERVPRO of Chemung & Schuyler Counties What to do when you find mold by SERVPRO of Chemung & Schuyler Counties

In as little as 48 hours, mold can quickly become a problem in your home or business when there’s a water intrusion, like a roof leak or leaking water line. Mold can cause health effects and can also cause significant damage to your property. SERVPRO Franchise Professionals have the training, protective gear, and specialized equipment necessary to handle your mold problem.

Have a Mold Problem? Call Today 

If you have a mold problem in your home or business, your primary focus should be safety:

  • Significant mold growth can occur in 48-72 hours.
  • Mold may present a greater risk to children, the elderly, and anyone with respiratory problems.
  • A strong, musty odor may indicate hidden mold behind drywall or under carpeting.

What to Do:

  • Stay out of affected areas.
  • Turn off the HVAC system and fans.
  • Contact a SERVPRO Franchise Professional for mold remediation services.

What NOT to Do:

  • Don’t touch or disturb the mold.
  • Don’t blow air across any surfaces with visible or suspected mold growth.
  • Don’t attempt to dry the area yourself.
  • Don’t spray bleach or other disinfectants on the mold.

How To Clean Your House 20 Minutes a Day for 30 Days By SERVPRO of Chemung & Schuyler Counties

10/19/2016 (Permalink)

Cleaning How To Clean Your House 20 Minutes a Day for 30 Days By SERVPRO of Chemung & Schuyler Counties How To Clean Your House 20 Minutes a Day for 30 Days By SERVPRO of Chemung & Schuyler Counties

When I first learned to clean my own place, I thought Saturday had to be an all day clean-a-thon. I didn't really have a concept of how to balance the work load during the week so weekends could be reserved for larger projects or even you know…fun! Now I clean in 20 minutes a day — every day — and things just seem to take care of themselves. Here's a glimpse at the schedule I use!

No one said you had to do everything at once and even when time seems short, if you can manage one task a day, things should start to work themselves out. Adjust this list as your family's needs require (those with more or less children might require doing certain activities more or less). If it's easier, take a blank calendar and fill it in accordingly so easier tasks are on days where your day is go, go, go and reserve the more difficult ones for days when things are a little lighter. Here are 5 tips to help make these 30 days a success:

1- Dealing With What Comes Through The Door

Set up a small area by the front door to act as a "landing strip” for incoming items to your home.

2- Do Your Dishes After Every Meal

This will help you stay on top of your kitchen instead of having it turn into a monster! No one really wants to do them (after all, you probably cooked dinner to boot). But waiting for another meal or until you have enough to fill the dishwasher just makes things feel overwhelming and easier to put off. The same goes for taking out trash as well. If you need to take the trash out, place it by the front door to go out in the morning or dispose of it that night so it's over and done with.

3- Laundry

If you have a washer and dryer at home, do a little bit each day. Spread things out so you don't feel bogged down by 200 towels and stinky socks. If you take things to a laundromat, sort clothes as you go so things are easier to load into machines when you get there. Fold them before you come home so you aren't dumping baskets out on your sofa or bed and they can go straight into drawers and closets. Not feeling inspired? Treat yourself... to a new laundry basket. It's the little things.

4- Whistle While You Work

No one really enjoys cleaning, but singing, humming, whistling or turning up the stereo are all great options to keep the beat in your feet and have fun while working.

5- Set a Timer

Most items on the list below should take no more than 20 minutes total. It's easy to rationalize 20 minutes, but it's also easy to get distracted by phone calls, emails, children and other projects that call your name as you tackle each chore. Set a timer for 5 or 10 minutes (which ever works best for you) and that way when it sounds you know exactly how much time you have left. If you find yourself off task it's easy to get back on track.

 

Here is an example of the list-

  1. Surface clean living room and kitchen (pick up stray items, dust, sweep, vacuum)
  2. Clean bathrooms (toilets, showers, floors, walls, mirrors)
  3. Surface clean bedrooms (put away toys, clothes, dust)
  4. Surface clean "extra" rooms (basement, office, play room)
  5. Surface clean living room and kitchen
  6. Clean bathrooms
  7. Clean all interior windows (white vinegar and newspaper works great and is cheap!)
  8. Sweep and vacuum all floors in the house (don't forget stairs)
  9. Surface clean bedrooms
  10. Deep clean living room (mirrors, baseboards, dust artwork)
  11. Clean bathrooms
  12. Clean out closets (hang up clothes, mittens, jackets, hats)
  13. Surface clean "extra" rooms
  14. Deep clean bedrooms (organize drawers, check under bed, tidy closet, dust artwork, fans, lights, mop)
  15. Surface clean living room and kitchen
  16. Deep clean bathrooms (clean inside drawers, inside of trash cans, tops of mirrors, tile, mop)
  17. Clean all door knobs, phones, entertainment equipment (remote controls), switch plates, banisters and other things that are repeatedly touched.
  18. Clean out the refrigerator, take stock of food, organize pantry
  19. Clean entryway, sweep porch (if you have one), clean out car (because they're often our home away from home)
  20. Surface clean living room and kitchen
  21. Surface clean bathrooms
  22. Surface clean bedrooms
  23. Sweep and vacuum all floors in the house
  24. Clean linen closet, straighten towels, sheets or regular closet if not applicable
  25. Surface clean living room and kitchen
  26. Deep clean kitchen (scrub appliances, wash trash cans, base boards, wipe down and straighten cabinets)
  27. Surface clean bathrooms
  28. Surfaces clean bedrooms
  29. Clean one item you've been meaning to get to and haven't (deep clean your stove, wipe down all light fixtures, tackle a particularly unruly area)
  30. Sweep and vacuum all floors in the house

To this list you can also add chores that need to be done monthly or quarterly. It's easier to plan for larger tasks like steam cleaning a sofa or a heavy traffic hallway, when it feels like part of the routine instead of that thing you keep putting off and dreading.

Habits are formed by doing and one of the best ways to change a bad habit is to replace it with a good habit. So if the time spent right when you come home from work is usually filled with email reading or a short nap, try switching this out with your cleaning instead. Filling these first 20 minutes of your time at home with quick cleaning will build good habits and help you stay on top of the game without feeling like it's a huge chore.

 

 

 



 

What to Do When Your Hot Water Heater is Leaking by SERVPRO of Chemung & Schuyler Counties

10/19/2016 (Permalink)

Water Damage What to Do When Your Hot Water Heater is Leaking by SERVPRO of Chemung & Schuyler Counties What to Do When Your Hot Water Heater is Leaking by SERVPRO of Chemung & Schuyler Counties

Hot water heaters, whether gas or electric, will last you about 10 – 12 years if you take good care of them. Even so, there’s always a chance your water heater could leak. This isn’t the end of the world – most small hot water heater leaks can be patched up pretty easily. And the best part? There are a number of things you can do before you call a plumber to make it even easier!

Cut the power

The first thing you should do when you find a hot water leak is turn off the fuel source leading to the water heater. If you have a gas water heater, find your thermostat. You should see a little knob with three settings: ON, OFF and PILOT. Switch it to OFF or PILOT to shut off the gas and make the heater safe to work on. If you have an electric water heater, go to your breaker panel and find the breaker labeled “Water Heater”. Turn it off to cut the power to your unit.

Shut off the water

All set? Next, you want to turn off the water, which is easy to do. First, you’ll need to find the cold water line leading to your water heater. There should be a valve on the line – turn it to the right until it closes. This will cut off the water and allow you to move on to the next step: draining the water heater.

Drain the water tank

In many ways, draining your hot water heater is the most important step – and it’s certainly the most involved! First, find the drain valve near the bottom of your hot water heater and attach a garden hose to it. Run the hose to a floor drain or sump pit. Once you’ve got the hose in place, open the valve. On older hot water heaters this may look like an ordinary spigot, while many new hot water heaters have a drain stem with a slot for a screwdriver.

Once you open the drain valve, you may notice water either doesn’t flow or doesn’t flow very well. This is because there’s a vacuum in the water heater. To break the vacuum, open any hot water faucet in your home. This will let air into the water tank and allow it to drain more easily. Once you establish a good flow, the whole tank should drain in about an hour.

And of course if its to late and the water has already made it impossible to clean up! Call us here at SERVPRO of Chemung & Schuyler Counties! 607-846-3685

 

Would you know how to react in the case of a fire? By SERVPRO of Chemung & Schuyler Counties

8/29/2016 (Permalink)

General Would you know how to react in the case of a fire? By SERVPRO of Chemung & Schuyler Counties Would you know how to react in the case of a fire? By SERVPRO of Chemung & Schuyler Counties.

This knowledge is vital to your safety since it could affect whether or not you escape a fire safely. Below are some fire safety tips to keep in mind.

Prior to a fire, create a fire escape plan A carefully designed fire escape plan can save you and your family's life. Should a fire occur, your family's safety will depend on everyone's rational reactions. Most fire deaths occur when people panic. The old motto "be prepared" is essential in escaping a fire safely. Exit drills in the home and a carefully designed escape plan is your key to a safe escape

Recipe for an effective fire safety plan: Draw the floor plan of your home. Indicate all doors, windows and other possible escape routes from each room in your home. Draw arrows to indicate the normal exits which will be your primary escape route (your best way out of the house is your normal route to the door). With a different color, draw arrows to indicate a second exit from each room in the home.

Put together a fire safety plan of your own to be ready in case of a house fire.

Agree on a meeting place outside your home where every member of the household will gather after escaping a fire to wait for the fire department. This allows you to inform the fire department if anyone is trapped inside the burning building. Once you are out, stay out!

Practice your escape plan at least twice a year. Have a fire drill in your home. Appoint someone to be a monitor and have everyone participate. A fire drill is not a race. Get out quickly, but carefully.

If you live in a two-story house and you must escape from a second-story window, be sure there is a safe way to reach the ground. Fire escape ladders are recommended for a fast and safe exit from two and three level buildings. Make special arrangements for children, seniors, and people with disabilities. People who have difficulty moving should have a phone in their sleeping area and, if possible, should sleep on the ground floor.

Make sure everyone in the household can unlock all doors and windows quickly, even in the dark. Windows or doors with security bars need to be equipped with quick-release devices and everyone in the household should know how to use them.

Once at the meeting place, have one person go to a neighbor's phone to call the fire department. In addition to telling them your name and address, tell them if anyone is still in the house.

Remember: GET OUT FIRST! CALL FOR HELP AFTER.

How to Prevent Water Damage In Your Home

8/22/2016 (Permalink)

Water Damage How to Prevent Water Damage In Your Home How to Prevent Water Damage in Your Home, by SERVPRO of Chemung & Schuyler Counties

Water damage is the No. 1 culprit that weakens your home’s foundation and the very core that holds your house together.

You’ve heard about core strength for your body. Well, water damage hits at the core strength of your house, eventually causing serious structural damage. Damp wood invites termites and carpenter ants; plus, it causes mold and mildew.

Here are three easy things to do to that will give you piece of mind the next time heavy storms hit.

#1. Ensure Good Drainage

Why it matters: Poor drainage weakens your foundation, causing cracks, uneven settling, and pathways for water to enter your home. 

How to do it:

  • Clean your gutters routinely. A clogged gutter will send cascades of water down the side of your house, damaging your siding and foundation.
  • Ensure your downspouts direct water 5 to 10 feet away from your house.
  • Make sure your yard is sloped at least 6 inches over a 10-foot span away from your foundation. That slope keeps water from getting down right next to your foundation, where it could cause walls to lean, crack the masonry, and create leaks. (For crawl spaces, keeping water away makes sure excess water doesn’t pool underneath your floor, making for damp conditions that encourage mold, rot, and insects.)
  • But don’t let the soil get too dry, either. Long dry spells let the soil around your house dry out and shrink. A big rain may make the soil expand, putting pressure on your foundation walls. In a drought, run a soaker hose at least 6 inches from the foundation and 3 inches under the soil to keep the soil from contracting and expanding.

Maintenance cost: Very little. Cleaning gutters can be a no-cost DIY job, or you can hire a pro for $50 to $250, depending on the size and height of your home. To get the soil slope you need, you might have to buy some additional topsoil.

Worst case if you put it off: Your foundation could settle, cracking your basement walls. The cost to stabilize, repair, and seal deteriorated foundation walls is a whopping $15,000 to $40,000.

#2. Test Your Sump Pump Regularly

Why it matters: Sump pumps come to life during storms. That’s not when you want to realize yours isn’t working properly. You should check it at least once a year, and ideally perform several checks during heavy storm seasons.

How to test your sump pump:

  1. Slowly fill the sump pump pit with water. Watch for the “float” (similar to the float in your toilet) to rise, which should turn on the pump. Then watch to make sure the water level falls.
  2. Test your backup pump the same way, but unplug the main pump first.
  3. If you don’t have a backup pump — or a generator — and are on municipal water, get one that runs on water pressure. If you’re on well water, your only option is the battery kind.

Maintenance cost: Testing is free; a water-powered backup sump pump, including installation, costs $150 to $350; a new battery for a battery-operated sump starts around $200.

Worst case if you put it off: Your basement could flood, ruining everything in it, including drywall and carpeting. (Did you know your regular insurance doesn’t cover flooding?) Plus you run the risk of mold and mildew — which can also be a very expensive problem.

#3. Check for Water Leaks and Fix Them.

Why it matters: Persistent leaks lead to mold and mildew, rot, and even termites and carpenter ants (they like chewing soggy wood, since it’s soft). Yet if you fix a leak soon after it starts, there may be no long-term damage at all.  

How to check for leaks:

  • Check for dark spots under pipes inside sink cabinets, stains on ceilings, toilets that rock, and of course drips.
  • At least once a year, inspect your roof. Repair missing, loose, and damaged shingles. Repair any cracked caulking and check for leaks around flashing.

Maintenance cost: Negligible for a simple fix, such as a new washer. A visit from a plumber might set you back $250; a roof repair, a few hundred dollars to $1,000.

Worst case if you put it off: Drips ruin the cabinet under the kitchen sink, and run down into the floor sheathing and joists underneath, so you need a structural repair, plus new cabinets and new kitchen flooring. Or the roof rots, so you need a new roof and repairs to rooms directly beneath.

If you do these three things and still have persistent water problems, such as water getting into your basement or an area of your yard keeps washing out, the solution is a bit more complicated in the form of a French drain.

Your Fall Home-Maintenance To- Do List by SERVPRO of Chemung & Schuyler Counties

8/22/2016 (Permalink)

General Your Fall Home-Maintenance To- Do List by SERVPRO of Chemung & Schuyler Counties Your Fall Home-Maintenance To- Do List by SERVPRO of Chemung & Schuyler Counties

As winter nears, it's time to prepare your home for cold weather. These steps, at least some of which most homeowners can do themselves, will lower your utility bills and protect your investment.

1. Tune up your heating system. For about $80 to $100, a technician will inspect your furnace or heat pump to be sure the system is clean and in good repair so that it can achieve its manufacturer-rated efficiency. The inspection also measures carbon-monoxide leakage. And you minimize the chance of being 200th in line for repairs on the coldest day of the year. Look for a heating and air-conditioning contractor that belongs to the Air Conditioning Contractors of America. 2. Buy a programmable thermostat. Or, if you already have one, double-check the settings. Energy Star says that, on average, for an initial investment of $50 to $100, you will save $180 annually on heating (and cooling) bills if in winter you keep the thermostat set to no higher than 70 degrees Fahrenheit when you’re at home and awake and no more than 62 degrees when you’re away or asleep. Energy Star–qualified models come with preprogrammed settings. While you’re at it, check the batteries in your smoke alarms and carbon-monoxide detectors. 3. Hit the roof. Or at least scan it closely with binoculars. Look for damaged, loose or missing shingles that may leak during winter’s storms or from melting snow. If need be, hire a handyman to repair a few shingles, or a roofer for a larger section. Check and repair breaks in the flashing seals around vent stacks and chimneys, too. If your roof is flat and surfaced with asphalt and pebbles, as many are in the Southwest, rake or blow off fall leaves and pine needles, which hold moisture, says Bill Richardson, president of the American Society of Home Inspectors, in Albuquerque. (Don’t sweep aside the pebbles; that will expose the asphalt to damaging sunlight.)

4. Caulk around windows and doors. Richardson says that if the gap is bigger than the width of a nickel, you need to reapply exterior caulk. Check window glazing putty, too (which seals glass into the window frame). Add weatherstripping as needed around doors, making sure you cannot see any daylight from inside your home. 5. Clean the gutters. A service charges $70 to $200 for a single-story house, depending on its size. If your gutters are full of detritus, water can back up against the house and damage roofing, siding and wood trim, plus cause leaks and ice dams. Also look for missing or damaged components that need repair. 

7. Turn off exterior faucets. Undrained water that freezes in pipes will expand and can burst. Start by disconnecting all garden hoses and draining water still in faucets. If you don’t have frost-proof faucets (homes built before ten to 12 years ago typically do not), turn off the shut-off valve inside your home.

8. Trim landscaping. Clear the area at least 1 foot away from exterior walls, and rake gunk out of corners and away from the foundation. Cut back tree limbs growing within about 5 feet of the house, or worse, scrubbing the house or roof. You will create better ventilation, help dry out surfaces and prevent decay and damage. (Different rules apply in landscapes vulnerable to wildfires)

9. Have your lawn-irrigation system professionally drained. Your sprinkler service will charge $50 to $150, depending on the size of the system. As with draining spigots, this will help avoid freezing and leaky pipes come spring.