What should I do to prepare my house for the fall and winter seasons?
As we move into fall and the rainy season, the first thing you should do is inspect your gutters and storm drainage system; clean them out if required. If you have any catch basins or storm water sumps you will want to check the solids levels and shovel them out if needed. Storm lines can easily be tested by putting a garden hose into each down pipe and running the water. If they convey water, chances are, they are working fine. If the water starts to back up you may have a problem. I would also recommend checking these again after all the leaves fall from the trees. Moving towards the end of October, you will want to make sure all outside taps (hose bibs) are turned off for the winter. To do this, you must locate the isolation valve for each outside tap. Upon shutting the valve off (to isolate the outside tap) you must open the outside tap to let the water drain out. You may have to open a small bleeder nut on the side of the isolation valve to allow the water to drain out of the outside tap. If you have a hose attached to the outside tap, it is critical that you disconnect the hose and remove. Hoses can prevent the water from draining out after the isolation valve has been turned off. If you cannot find a shut off valve to turn off the outside tap, you can put some insulation around the outside tap to protect it from freezing and cover it with a plastic bag to protect it from the rain.