This checklist is intended for homes in Lakeport Cluster, which are more than 30 years old and unique in several ways. Please help keep this list current and relevant by sending suggestions to Board@LakeportCluster.org.
Snow and ice removal – Clear your driveway and walkway of snow or ice. Consider de-icing the driveway using pet- and environment-friendly products available at home improvement stores. Shovel decks to avoid water leakage into the house.
Ice that accumulates in gutters and downspouts can be harmful to the heat retention of the house and can allow water to enter the home. Where possible, and when it can be accomplished safely, remove icicles from gutters and downspouts.
Important note: If you are addressing issues with the exterior of your home, please consult the Lakeport standards and remember that you may have to seek approval from Reston Association’s Design Review Board.
In past winters several Lakeport residents have had to deal with burst water pipes as a result of freezing temperatures. If you have pipes that are vulnerable, you should take steps to avoid broken pipes and potentially costly damage and repairs. It is also a good idea to arrange with a neighbor to have access to each other’s homes in case one or the other of you is out of town when this (or some other emergency) arises.
Turn off outdoor water spigots from inside the house while leaving the spigot open (to drain the line). The valve is usually in a storage area near the hot water heater or utility tub.
If you don’t have disaster preparedness kits, consider assembling emergency preparedness items, including for your car in case you are stranded in a snowstorm; if do you have such kits, check expiration dates and batteries. For more information, see “Disaster Preparedness Guide” and “Items to Include in Disaster Preparedness Kits” in “Disaster Preparedness” under “Residents” on the Lakeport website: https://www.lakeportcluster.org/p/disaster-preparedness-plan.html.
A recent article in the Washington Post (Daniel Bortz, “Nothing Lasts Forever: A Schedule for Replacing Household Items,” November 12, 2020) offered several more suggestions, on which the following items are based:
Furnace and Air-Conditioning Filters
The heating, ventilation, and air-conditioning (HVAC) system is crucial for the health and safety of a home’s residents. The filters that are part of the HVAC system help minimize airborne pollutants and trap and hold dust and other particles that can eventually clog the air intake, which strains the operation of the system’s motors. If the accumulation of dust and other debris is significant enough in the filter, the motors may blow unhealthy air into the home.
Change the filters several times throughout the year to improve the effectiveness and efficiency of your HVAC equipment. The recommendation is to change filters at least twice during the summer and once during the winter. However, if you use fiberglass filters, they should be changed monthly.
There are two principal types of home fire extinguishers: rechargeable and disposable. A rechargeable one lasts up to six years, while most disposable ones are designed to last about 12 years. The recommendation is to check the pressure gauge monthly to be sure the equipment is fully charged. If you aren’t sure your extinguisher is functional, most fire departments can inspect it to determine its status.
Most of us are aware of the recommendation to replace the batteries in all our smoke detectors twice annually (i.e., at the beginning and end of Daylight Saving Time). But we may not be aware that the detectors themselves come with an expiration date. The recommendation is to replace them at least every decade.
Carbon Monoxide Detectors
If you have a carbon monoxide detector, it is likely to have a five- to seven-year lifespan. The safest practice is to replace each detector at least every five years.
Check the contents annually for expiration dates on materials in the kit. Partially used tubes or bottles of topical treatment materials should be replaced to prevent using contaminated materials. The whole kit should be replaced every five years.
Dehumidifier and Humidifier Filters
Clogged filters can be remedied with a quick cleaning, but if mildew, mold, or dust mites are present, the equipment should be replaced.
Refrigerator Water Filters
Unless the filter is changed regularly, there is no real difference between the water from the refrigerator and that from the kitchen’s faucet, except an old filter can trap bacteria, heavy metals, and chemicals that can then be dispensed in the refrigerator’s drinking water. That is why the water filter in the refrigerator should be replaced every six months. And if you are using a carafe-style water filter, those filters should be changed monthly.