Preparing homes for cooler, rainy weather

Photo courtesy of Metro Creative

Experts say now is the time to begin prepping your home for winter, which includes checking outside seals and caulking on masonry or other hard surfaces.

Though California’s warm fall weather makes winter seem like a far-off reality, East County eventually will get its share of lower temperatures and winter rain.

It may be November before you switch on that heater, but now is a good time to ensure your home is prepared.

Homeowners can check outside seals and caulking on masonry or hard surfaces, look at paint on wood surfaces, and clean gutters. If you have an older home with a chimney, make sure it is clean and clog-free and your firewood is ready to go.

For your heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) system, now is a good time to make sure your filter is changed and everything will be in working order for that first frost.

“Change the filter on your furnace because you’ve used it all summer long,” Robert Conner, owner of Fairview Heating and Air in Oakley, recommended. “And have a safety check on the furnace because if there is a gas problem, that can be a fire hazard.”

One thing Conner said homeowners can skip: having ducts cleaned. He said his company has duct cleaning equipment, but generally does that type of work only when installing a new HVAC system.

For those with solar panels on their home, Conner said he installs hybrid HVAC systems that use electricity for heat instead of gas.

“We have put in quite a few of those now because electricity costs so much in California,” said Conner. “If you have solar, it makes sense to go to a hybrid system. They cost about 5% more than a standard system.”

He said his company also installs systems that are run entirely on electricity for those with adequate solar systems already in place.

He also noted the importance of checking carbon monoxide detectors.

“Once they are 10 years old, you have to replace them,” he said. “This time of year is a good time to replace the batteries -- and at 10 years old, replace the unit -- because the sensor goes bad.”

Solar panels are already part of many Brentwood-area homes and owners should expect a slight drop-off in production during the winter. Brentwood resident Ed Cotas owns Synergy 768, Inc., a solar installation company. He said darker days may inhibit electricity production, but those “bright, cloudy days” will make up for it.

“The system will produce less during winter for sure, but there are days that are good, because the perfect solar temperature and weather is actually when there is a glare,” Cotas said. “When you go out the door and squint, even though it’s cloudy, and the temperatures are lower, that’s the perfect solar weather. The hotter the panels get, the less efficient they become.”

Cotas said that solar systems don’t need to be winterized, but homeowners should take a look at surrounding trees so that winter storms don’t cause branches to fall on panels.

Fairview Heating and Air has been in business in East County since 1987. The company is running a special with a mail-in rebate for $50. For more information, call 925-625-4963 or visit

Synergy 768, Inc. is located at 9000 Brentwood Blvd., in Brentwood. For more information, call 510-388-0888 or visit