Did you ever wonder why your smoke alarm starts chirping at 3 a.m. and not during the day? I can only speculate that when your smoke detector battery starts going low, somehow it knows that you are not home during the day. It however knows that you are in a deep sleep when it screeches and makes it presence known.

This is a gentle reminder and nudge that it is time to change the batteries in all your smoke detectors. I send a post card to my clients at this time of the year to remind them of the upcoming time change of falling back on Nov. 7 and to check the batteries in their smoke detectors.

The next item to love and pay some extra attention to are your gutters. A few years ago, Tom and I found ourselves once again awake at 3 a.m. hearing rushing water down the hallway. We both quickly ran down the hallway to find water pouring down the walls in our game room. The gutter above the window was unable to move the water from the heavy rain to the downspout.

I watched Tom quickly put on his yellow rain suit and head to the side of our home with a ladder to clear the gutter of debris. Fortunately, he unclogged the gutter and the water moved toward the downspout. We were still left with a mess of water-soaked towels to clean up and wash. So, to avoid this from happening again during rainy season, we schedule a company to come in and clean the gutters prior to the rainy season. Thankfully, we have avoided any earlier morning wake up calls of water rushing down our game room walls.

Another maintenance item to pay close attention to and avoid a potential fire hazard is periodic cleaning of your dryer vent. I am sure that after every dryer cycle you clean off the lint that has collected in the filter. I am always amazed that even though I have washed my towels a zillion times, there is still an amazing amount of lint produced that needs cleaning.

As my home inspector has shared with me, the configuration of a dryer vent is one that could cause a house fire. The dryer vent should be configured to take the lint produced outside of the home. Many times, however, the vent is not directed outside the home and can vent into the attic. This is a poor design of the lint vent. The lint becomes heavy and will fall back down into the dryer vent.

I used to think when I walked outside my home and smelled that lovely scent of fabric softener sheets that it was a good thing. This is an indication that the dryer vent needs cleaning. There are dryer vent kits that can be purchased where you can do the clean out yourself or you can hire a company to clean it for you.

Bottom Line:

So, in addition to buying candy for Halloween trick or treaters, and making your shopping list for Thanksgiving dinner, please add these fall maintenance items to your “to do list.” These small tasks could save your life and avoid placing a water claim with your insurance company which can raise your premium.

• Donna A. Baker, CRS ABR SFR CDPE is the Broker-Owner of At Home Real Estate Group selling real estate for 21 years. Her memberships include National Association of Realtors, California Association of Realtors, Certified Residential Specialists, Central Valley Association of Realtors, Accredited Buyer’s Representative, Certified Distressed Property Expert®, and Short Sales and Foreclosure Resource. In addition, Donna teaches monthly at the Central Valley Association of Realtors New Realtor Member Orientation and serves as the Chairman for the Tracy Real Estate Marketing Council and as a Board member for the McHenry House a local rehab shelter. Donna has lived in Tracy since 1989 with her husband Tom of 32 years and has two awesome children, Trevor and Ally. Contact her at donna@donnabaker.com.

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