(Family Features) The change in seasons should bring about more than just a change of wardrobe. It's important to check out your appliances and home systems now in order to help prevent unnecessary repairs when you need those systems the most.
To help you get your home ready for the winter, American Home Shield, one of the nation's leading providers of home warranty services, offers some tips to help you maintain your heating unit and plumbing system to ensure they're ready before the temperatures drop:
To prepare the heating system:
•Have your system professionally cleaned and inspected.
•Move any furniture that has been placed over floor vents away to clear the air flow.
•To ensure efficient operation, check your system's air filters and clean or change them regularly.
•It's always important to check out the manufacturer's maintenance recommendations for your specific unit. This information is typically available online and in your owner's guide.
•Have a test run. Don't wait until it's cold outside to turn on your heat. Turn it on now and let it run for at least a half-hour, so you can listen for any unusual noises and make sure it is working properly.
To prepare the plumbing system:
•Insulate pipes prone to freezing, such as those near an outside wall; those in unheated areas of your home; or any exposed plumbing such as outside faucets.
•Keep your water meter box covered with its lid to prevent the meter from freezing during cold periods.
•Be sure you know where your master valve is located so you can quickly turn your home's water off if a line does break. In most homes, this valve will be located near the water heater, near the clothes washer, or where the water service line enters your home.
•Wrap outdoor or crawl space pipes with electric heat tape or insulation to prevent freezing.
"Plumbing and heating systems are like any other machinery; they require some basic maintenance to keep them functioning properly," said Dave Quandt, Senior VP of Field Services for American Home Shield.
"Unfortunately, if regular maintenance doesn't take place and a system or appliance fails, it's usually at the time of need and you're left with a crisis which can require a quick and more expensive decision."
Taking these steps can help you keep your home systems in good working order. But even with the best care, unexpected things can happen. Home warranties are an excellent choice for those who want to help avoid unexpected repair costs in the event that a covered system or appliance breaks down.
To help home warranty customers find repair help when they need it, American Home Shield has the largest contractor network in the industry, with over 11,000 pre-screened, approved and independently insured home service contractors, saving homeowners the time and stress of finding the right contractors. To learn more, visit www.ahs.com.
American Home Shield