Inspect windows and doors. Window should have properly fitted storm windows. Windows should open and closely easily. Weep holes should be functional and not blocked with debris. (Clean with pipe cleaners). Is the weatherstripping around your window perimeters in working condition? Exterior doors?
- Seal leaks around windows, doors, pipes, recessed lighting, and electrical outlets. Seal door leaks with weather-stripping or a door sweep; seal window leaks with caulking. You can add gaskets to outlets on outside walls. We had one of our inspectors try it and here were his results.
- Consider sealing more “hidden” air leaks like at your duct work. Seal ductwork joints with high-quality foil tape or mastic paste (despite the name, avoid duct tape). But don’t go overboard sealing the home in general. Your home still needs to “breathe.” Make sure your home retains heat but also provides enough fresh air to maintain good indoor air quality.
- Consider purchasing a properly sized cover for your air conditioning condensing unit. If not already, very soon you’ll be turning off that cool air device and you’ll want it covered to keep out winter’s ice and migrating debris.
- Inspect your fireplace. Working doors and screen? How about the damper? If you have a gas log, make sure the damper is restricted from closing completely. You must not allow this damper to close entirely as Carbon Monoxide (CO) gas from your pilot light must be able to escape up the chimney at all times. How long has it been since you had the fireplace chimney cleaned? Consider every 3 years.
- Change filters. Change the filter in a forced hot-air system monthly during the heating season to help keep the system at peak efficiency. Most homeowners can change the filters themselves.
- Have your heating system professionally serviced. Getting your system professionally serviced now reduces the likelihood of needing emergency service come January. As a general rule, oil systems should be cleaned and serviced annually, while gas systems should be serviced every other year.
- Make sure your home is adequately insulated. Read more about proper insulation and ventilation here.
- If you don’t already have a programmable thermostat, now is a great time to get one installed. Be all set (pun intended!) and ready to go when winter comes.
- Upgrade where necessary. Lastly, if your home and systems are older, it may be time to consider new windows or a new heating system in order to really be prepared for the heating system this year.
If you love your home and plan to live it in through your retirement years, you’ll want to be sure it’s safe for you as you face some of those little challenges aging presents. Assess your home and see if there are any changes you may need to make. Doing so will not only reduce the risk of injury, but it will also give your loved one’s peace-of-mind, especially if you live alone.
Here’s what you’ll want to inspect as you consider aging in place:
- Bathroom handrails. Next to the toilet and tub are top choices. Not only are they there for moments of instability, but they can help you raise and lower yourself more easily. You might also consider converting to a walk-in shower with a seat.
- Non-slip surfacing. Showers and tubs are much safer if you reduce the chance of slippage. Having coating installed to facilitate your grip is a good idea.
- Stairway railings. Both inside and outside stairways should have sturdy, useful rails (i.e. not just decorative).
- Ample lighting. Consider adding lighting indoors and outdoors. Decreased visibility is a major contributor to falls. Lighting also adds security by deterring would-be burglars.
- Sharp edges. Tables, countertops, and other areas were sharp edges are likely to be found should be replaced with rounded surfaces.
- Flat thresholds. Transitions from room-to-room should be as bump-free as possible. You may be used to stepping over the occasional random stair or elevated threshold, but you might not be so agile as you age.
- Storage height. If you’ve been used to climbing up and down step ladders to access your storage spaces, look for alternative storage options.
- Furniture support. Is your couch too low? Do your chairs have arm rests for support? Are countertops too high? Find the sweet spot where comfort and safety meet.
Home size is often an issue as well, especially if there are upkeep and maintenance issues to consider. Of course, if you’ve decided your current home isn’t the greatest for an age-in-place approach to your golden years, I am happy to help you sell your current home or look for a new one: