Here at Gulf State Homebuyers, homes are our business. Founded in 2006, we have seen our fair share of what happens to properties when they’re not getting the attention they need. Homes need people.

One of the key factors in how our company has been able to thrive for many years is by buying neglected homes after some force of nature has made it nearly impossible for the homeowner to handle. We love being able to help our community. But there are ways to avoid being overwhelmed by the circumstance.

          Take the time to protect your investment.

The middle of fall is a wonderful time to start thinking about your home maintenance and start preparing for colder weather. Sure, southeast Texas usually shows us all 4 seasons in a week’s time—but that’s all the more reason to PREPARE for anything.

Here are a few things you can do to get ready for the winter and help keep your home happy:

Check your home’s heating and air conditioning system(s)

Most heating and air systems typically last 12 to 15 years. We see systems that are pretty much dead at 10 years and we see systems that are still going strong at 20 years. A lot of this has to do with how they’re maintained. (Notice the pattern here.)

Before the weather turns frigid, take the time to change your filters, at the very least. We recommend having the system inspected by a reputable HVAC contractor. Better yet, maybe even explore getting an annual maintenance agreement. Have the contractor check your system and make sure your heat is going to work when you need it to. It’s much better to find an HVAC problem in the moderate temperatures of the fall than it is to find your furnace doesn’t work during a hard freeze or your ac doesn’t work during a SETX summer.

Check your drainage

Make sure the soil around your foundation hasn’t settled, creating areas for water to pool at your foundation. If you find a low spot, simply fill it in with some soil. Then go around and check your rain gutter downspouts. Make sure water is getting moved away from the home. Add downspout extenders if necessary. Saturated soil around a foundation can create real problems as it freezes and thaws throughout the winter months.

Clean your gutters

Once the leaves are pretty much off the trees, it’s time to clean those gutters. When your gutters back up, they overflow, and when they overflow, that water runs down your home, speeding up the deterioration of your exterior. It can also lead to deterioration of your foundation, water infiltration in the bottom floor, sometimes even the walls that share the clogged gutter, and to settling under your concrete porches and walks, which creates all kinds of problems. Gutter screens are highly recommended, but you will need to perform maintenance on those as well. They’re typically not a fix-all.

Clean your chimney and order firewood

Have your fireplace cleaned and inspected before you start building those cozy fires in the next couple of months. A good chimney sweep company will make sure the fireplace is safe to use, and it can also identify maintenance problems. Make sure you check out our YouTube channel for our demonstration and list of preferred contractors to assist.

This is also the time to order that load of firewood or start collecting dry, freshly chopped wood yourselves. Take the time to stack and cover that wood in a good location in the yard. Make sure that old firewood isn’t rotten and move it away from your home.

Test your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors

Winter is the time most house fires happen. It’s the time of year when we’re blasting the furnace and building fires. Dried pine trees with hot light bulbs. (Here’s looking at you, real Christmas trees!)

We are also much more likely to have our home closed tight, so carbon monoxide is a much bigger hazard. Check all of your smoke detectors to make sure they are working and that they have good batteries. If your home is not equipped with carbon monoxide detectors, consider getting some. The HVAC inspection will also ensure your furnace and water heater are properly vented, which is the most likely source of carbon monoxide.

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 burst.

When winter temperatures drop significantly below normal, staying warm and safe can become a challenge. Make sure you take the proper precautions to make sure everyone and everything survives the elements. Homes need people. Pets need people. People need people.

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