If the predictions are as accurate as the hype, we will be in for a healthy dose of rain this season. Despite the lack of creeks and streams in our urban areas, we can still experience flooding.
Here are some recommended items to have on hand as well as suggested maintenance checks so you can be prepared for the rain — and enjoy it!
Lantern: There’s no need to use candles when the power is out when there are hundreds of inexpensive LED lantern options. A lantern allows you to do some unplugged activities around the house: read a book, play board games with the kids, and so forth. Gama Sonic offers a rechargeable LED lantern with flashlight that will automatically turn on during a power outage.
Battery-powered phone charger: No electricity means we have no way to power up our cell phones, which have become an extension of our arms. Plus many people now have only cellular phones and no landlines.
Corded phone: If you do have a landline, make sure that you have an old-fashioned corded phone to use in a power outage. Cordless phones most likely won’t work if their power source is not working or the battery is dead.
Tarp and bucket: A bit old school, but these are invaluable to have on hand for unexpected leaks.
Rain barrel: Set up a rain barrel to collect rainwater to use in the garden for those dry spells in between storms. Make your own rain barrel with a do-it-yourself kit available at many hardware stores.
Clean storm drains: Flooding can easily occur when storm drains are clogged with leaves and debris. Make sure those around your home are clear. City maintenance crews do clean the storm drains, but you can bet if we have a big storm, they will have their hands full.
Roof inspection: With all of the talk of El Niño, roofers are in high demand as homeowners prepare for the rain. When we get our first rains of the season, they will be in demand even more, so get your roof inspected and repaired, if necessary, now.
Plugged gutters and downspouts can be worse than none at all. It’s best to check and clean your gutters and downspouts twice a year: in the spring after the winter rains and in the fall before the next rainy season. If big trees are near, clean gutters more often.
This is a simple do-it-yourself project: All you need to get started is a ladder, work gloves, a bucket, a garden hose, and motivation. Galvanized gutters are sturdy enough to lean a ladder against, but aluminum gutters are not. When in doubt, use a stepladder or stabilizer. Make sure the ladder is safe before you climb it.
After you have cleared the gutter, run a hefty volume of water through the whole system to flush out any remaining debris, which will also indicate if the downspout is working properly.
While cleaning, make note of any areas needing repair. Performing repairs in wet weather is inconvenient and limits your choice of repair materials. So be sure to do your cleaning when there is dry weather on the horizon.
The onset of winter also comes with cooler temperatures, so now is the time to ensure your home is cozy and energy efficient.
Examine your heating ducts: Think of the ductwork as huge hoses, bringing hot air instead of water into a building. Mostly out of sight, ducts can leak for years without detection. They can become torn or crushed and flattened. Old duct tape will dry up over time, allowing junctions and splices to open, wasting heated air into an attic or under the house. (Use metal-reinforced or foil-backed tape instead of duct tape.) Preventing leaky ducts can save about 10 percent of a heating bill.
Inspect your heating system: Get a routine maintenance and inspection of your heating system each autumn. Replace your heater’s air filter monthly. Clean and remove dust from vents and along baseboard heaters.
Remember, it takes less energy to warm a cool home than to maintain a warm temperature all day long.
Install programmable thermostats: These thermostats are capable of dividing the days into multiple time zones. For example, at night you can turn the thermostat down, and program it to have the house warmed when you wake up and the temperature set during the day to an appropriate level. They are easy to install, save energy, and reduce your electric bill.