Fall is a great time to take care of some essential items around your home before the snow starts to fly and the cold weather sets in. With fall almost here and winter just around the corner, take the time now to boost energy efficiency throughout your home, and prevent damage from winter storms with proper tree care. We've researched and talked to the experts on our team to provide you with a checklist to properly maintain your home this fall.
Turn your main water valve on and off. As we discussed in our last newsletter, it is essential that you turn your main water shut off valve on and off again 4x per year. This will prevent it from seizing or leaking when you have to turn it off in an emergency or during a renovation.
Care for your tress and shrubs. If you have trees on your property, consider hiring an arborist to care for them — these pros can spot signs of poor health early on to prevent tree loss, and know how to prune properly to avoid falling limbs in winter storms. Ensure you trim out the dead portions of trees before they go dormant.
Clean your gutters and down pipes. Once most of the leaves have fallen, clean out the gutters of leaves and debris. Clogged gutters during rainstorms can cause water to pool and damage your roof or siding.
Close down the barbecue. Even if you plan on using your BBQ throughout the winter, you should clean the grill either by turning on the barbecue's heat and scrubbing with a brush or consider putting the racks into a self cleaning oven. Clean the briquettes and burners and replace them if necessary.
Seal gaps where critters can come in. With the colder weather on its way, small critters like mice will be looking for warmth. Take a walk around the exterior of your home and look for even the smallest of holes. Fill these holes with steel wool and then caulking.
Store your summer items. Clean and store outdoor furniture. Clean and maintain tools such as lawnmowers. Ensure you thoroughly clean the underside of the lawnmower before putting it away. Remember to turn off fountains and store them inside if they are portable.
Prepare exterior faucets. Remove all exterior garden hoses, drain and store. Turn the inside valve for the exterior faucet off. Open up the exterior to drain any water. Turn off for the season once it's drained. If you want to be proactive, now is the time to install non-freeze exterior faucets.
Make improvements to the roof. If you get a lot of ice and snow on your roof, ice guards and perhaps a roof ice melting system may be an appropriate option.
Add weatherstripping. Weatherstripping applied around the frames of windows and doors helps boost winter warmth and cut energy costs. Add door sweeps to the base of drafty doors to keep heat in and cold air out.
Direct your drainage. Take a close look at the soil around your foundation and make sure it slopes away from your house at least 6 vertical inches over 10 feet. That way, you’ll keep water from soaking the soils around your foundation, which could lead to cracks and leaks.
Check your furnace. Schedule a maintenance check up with your local heating and cooling pro. Change your furnace filters, too. This is a job you should do every two months anyway, but if you haven’t, now’s the time. If your HVAC includes a built-in humidifier, make sure the contractor replaces that filter.
Check safety devices. Test smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors; replace batteries as needed. Check the expiration date on your fire extinguisher and replace if needed. If you haven’t checked your home for radon, fall is a good time to do so — as the weather gets cooler and windows stay shut more often, radon is more likely to become trapped in your home.
Clean dryer vents. Lint buildup in dryer vents can make your dryer work less efficiently and even cause a fire — cool, dry fall weather increases static electricity, which can ignite lint that has built up, so now is a key time to get that lint out.
Deck/Porch Maintenance. Sealing a wood deck to prevent splintering and discoloration is a must, and it should be done annually. You should also give your deck a yearly examination to check for loose boards and nails. Wood decks also need to be cleaned regularly. If you decide to clean it yourself, follow the exact directions on the cleaning solution. In some cases, it may be necessary to hose down the deck and surrounding area before applying cleaning solutions.
Basement Inspections. Though foundation cracking is something that can happen at any time of year, winter frost heaves and soil shifts can cause leaks or make small cracks become problematic. Identifying cracks early on is a sure-fire way to keep your fixes as quick and affordable as possible. Get a professional inspection and mark any cracks that are found with a felt tip pen, clearly stating the diameter at the time of the marking. Examine them regularly to see if they are getting any bigger, and pay extra close attention during winter and rainy seasons.
Window Air Conditioners: Vacuum internal parts of air conditioners. Remove units from windows or wrap outside box with an approved tarp or plastic air conditioner cover in order to prevent rusting of vital parts.
Ceiling Fans: Change the direction of your ceiling fan to create an upward draft that redistributes warm air from the ceiling.
Wood Stoves and Fireplaces: Get your woodstove and fireplace in working order. Examine your wood stove or fireplace insert’s door gasket for a tight seal. Also clean and inspect the glass door for cracks and have the chimney cleaned by a licensed chimney sweep. A clogged chimney poses the risk of a chimney fire, which can be ignited by burning creosote—a combination of wood tar, organic vapors and moisture buildup.
Garage Door: Weather-strip your garage door. Make sure the seal between your garage door and the ground is tight to prevent drafts and keep out small animals.
Porch and Deck: Check the supports, stairs, and railings on porches and decks. Make sure the handrails can support someone slipping on snow or ice.
Fertilize your Lawn: The best offense is a good defense. If you want to keep your lawn looking great in the spring and summer, you need to prep it for the fall and winter. Roots are still active when the grass isn't growing, so applying fertilizer will prevent winter damage. This will also help your lawn turn green faster in the spring.