One of the joys of home ownership is that there is always something to do, to fix or to take care of. Home maintenance is just that. And fall is a great time of year to fix any problem areas and to take inventory of your home’s overall health. To make sure your home is prepared for the cold season, check off items from this fall home maintenance checklist.
Fall Home Maintenance Tips
By making home maintenance a priority in the fall, you can identify any potential problems before they arise or that will be exacerbated by the impending cold or harsh weather. It is a good idea to make this fall maintenance checklist a part of your yearly routine and the more you upkeep your home, the less likely you will experience larger problems or big financial expenditures due to routine maintenance issues.
1. Store Summer and Prepare Winter Tools
Clean and put away all of your summer tools. Clean your edger, weed whacker, gardening tools and the like before storing for the season. You want to get all dirt and debris off and put the tools inside, whether in a garage or shed. Be sure they are kept in a safe place that will be clear of snow and water to avoid rusting.
Clean the blades of your lawnmower and drain the gas or use a fuel stabilizer before storing for the winter. Without a fuel stabilizer, gas will deteriorate over time and can cause damage to the engine. If you use a fuel stabilizer instead of draining the gas, make sure to run the mower for 5 minutes with the stabilized gas to ensure it reaches the carburetor. This same tip applies to any gas-operated equipment, such as leaf blowers or chainsaws.
Also, take all hoses and removable water spigots off the exterior of your home, drain any remaining water and put away for safekeeping. Shut off the outside water valves as well.
At this time, you’ll want to get out all of your winter tools and prepare them for the upcoming season. Gas up the snow blower and ensure it is in working order. Move the snow shovels to the front of the garage or shed and sand any rust spots. Check your salt supply and stock up if need be.
2. Inspect Home’s Exterior
Check your roof for loose or missing shingles. Replace or nail down before the first snowfall. Also look for any holes or cracks around the chimney and gutters. Once the weather starts to get cooler, critters will use these openings as an invitation to your attic/walls. You’ll want to shut them out before the need to evict arises.
While you’re up there, clean out the chimney. Actually, you may need to hire a professional chimney sweep, especially if you have a wood-burning fireplace. Check the flue and inspect for damage and cracks.
Remove debris from the gutters and downspouts. Use a plumber’s snake to flush out all of the built-up debris in the downspout. You may also consider adding a downspout extender for fall and winter months.
Check the foundation for cracks. Fix any problems prior to winter because the cold can increase cracking. Make sure to slope the soil away from the home to prevent water buildup.
3. Make Sure Safety Devices Are Working
Check all smoke and carbon monoxide detectors. Ensure that they work. Replace the batteries now in all devices. This way you don’t have to remember which device got a new battery at what time. Do them all at the same time for easiest home maintenance. It may be a good idea to do this every six months so you can add it to your spring home maintenance checklist as well.
4. Wash Windows and Check Sealants
Wash the exterior and interior of your windows and put in your storm windows for the winter. Remove screens and screen doors. Check and repair any caulking around doors and windows to combat drafts and mold buildup. The better the sealant, the better your heating bill!
5. HVAC Service
Have a professional HVAC service in to inspect your furnace. Some offer fall home maintenance service plans. If you can find any possible problems now, it is better to do so in the offseason rather than in the high-price and high-demand winter months. Plus, you don’t want to spend any cold winter nights with a broken furnace for a problem that could have been avoided with regular maintenance.
Remove any window AC units, store safely and cover the exterior unit with an insulating wrap.
6. Insulate Exposed Water Pipes
Make sure all water is flushed from any outdoor pipes. Then insulate the exposed pipes. To insulate pipes, use foil or fiberglass insulation wrap or tubular pipe sleeves. If you choose fiberglass, make sure you wear protective clothing. Always clean the pipes before applying the insulating wrap. Cover the entire surface of the pipe.
Some pipes along the exterior of the home are at risk of freezing too. Check on these as winter sets in even if it is inconvenient to do so. It will be better than dealing with a burst pipe.
7. Change Air Filters and Clean Ducts
Replace the filters in your furnace and clean all of your air ducts. Vacuum, dust and wipe all heating grates, radiators, and baseboard heaters. Also, clean out the dryer vent. With the dryer fall air, static electricity increases and dryer lint buildup becomes a serious fire hazard. Always unplug your dryer and shut off the gas before cleaning the vent. Use a vacuum cleaner attachment or lint brush to clean out the vent and hose. If needed, replace the hose at this time.
8. Prepare Your Lawn
Rake leaves, mow the lawn, fertilize and prepare your lawn for the winter months. The more you prepare your lawn is for the cold weather, the better it will battle back come springtime. For more information, check out our fall lawn care blog.
Are You Ready to Do These Fall Home Maintenance Preparations?
Once you follow these fall home maintenance tips, you have your home prepared for the cold. Now, have you prepared for the cold yourself? Is it already time to put away the summer clothes and get out the sweaters?