Every season brings along its challenges for our homes. Take a look at our ultimate checklist for the fall to help maintain your family home inside and out.
1. Prepare Doors and Windows for Storms
Install storm windows and doors and remove screens. Before storing, clean and repair screens, spray with a protective coating and place in a dry area of the basement or garage.
Doors and windows should close firmly. If a door or window rattles when it’s closed, then that’s a sign that it’s not closed properly. If you can slide a paper under the door, then the bottom of the door will need a new sweep.
Self-adhesive foam weatherstripping is inexpensive and easy to apply. Doors should have weatherstripping applied on both sides and across the top. Add weatherstripping to areas on the windows where you find drafts leaking through. Sweeps for the door are relatively easy to install with an inexpensive vinyl kit.
2. Inspect Exterior Walls
See if any paint is peeling or blistering on the walls outside your home which can deteriorate over time if protective paint is left unchecked. Fall offers plenty of days that are warm enough to work with exterior paint, and a touch-up can help prolong the life of your siding and trim
Sooner is better to contact a local painter or attempt the project yourself, as many paints aren’t recommended for application on days when the temperature will dip colder than 45 to 50 degrees.
3. Inspect your Roof
Make sure the roof is also in good shape. Inspect for missing and loose shingles. The coming seasons can wreak havoc on your roof which is your home’s first defense. It’s better to deal with any possible repairs and upgrades now than later on during snow or rainstorms. Have a licensed, certified roofing professional check the conditions of your roof.
4. Clear Out Gutters
If gutters are not cleaned and water overflows from the gutters, it will fall along the foundation of the building. This can soften the soil under and around it which will lead to foundation cracks. Also, if the foundation is wet and then freezes, this will cause heaving and cracks.
A simple solution of water and white vinegar works very well for cleaning the outside of the gutters, and won’t corrode aluminum. You can also make a paste with a small amount of water and cream of tartar, which will act as a cleaner and gentle buffing agent in one.
Don’t forget to clean all those wet autumn leaves from gutter spouts before the blockages damage your gutters. Your plumber’s snake is a great tool for pulling clumps of wet leaves out of clogged downspouts.
1. Seal up Leaks
Proper sealing and insulation from draft leaks can cause up to 20% on heating and cooling costs or up to 10% on your annual energy bill. Take the time to look for any air leaks along your window and door frames. Apply weather stripping and caulk to seal up these drafts.
When it comes to water leaks, look for unusual smells like mold mildew in areas where it is not visibly present. Often, hidden leaks show when there is sudden damage or discoloration in the walls, ceiling, or floors. This is an indication of water damage that has just come to the surface so that you can see it with the naked eye.
2. Inspect your Heating System
It’s also a good idea to have your heating system inspected by a professional. Consider scheduling this task in early fall before the heating season begins. Here are signs that you should have an inspection performed sooner:
- Noisy belts: Unusual screeches or whines could be a signal that belts connected to the blower motor are worn or damaged.
- Poor performance: A heating system that doesn’t seem to work as well as it once did could be a sign of various problems. Your heating ducts might be blocked, the burners might be misadjusted, or the blower motor could be on its last legs. The first step, however, is to make sure your furnace filter is clean.
3. Inspect Wood Stoves and Fireplaces
Now that fireplace season is coming ahead, it would be a good idea to check for damages and hazards. First, inspect the flue for creosote, a flammable by-product of burning wood. Too much accumulation in a flue or chimney can result in a devastating fire. Get your chimney inspected annually for creosote buildup. If you use a fireplace or wood stove frequently, have the flue inspected after each cord of wood burned.
Additionally, check your chimney for damage or flue blockages. Ensure the screen or baffle covering the top of the chimney is in place. Birds often nest at the top of unprotected flues; a chimney cap can prevent this from happening. If you don’t have a cap, look up the flue to ensure that there are no obstructions.
4. Check Your Detectors
With furnaces turned on, the windows closed and fireplaces lit all evening, now is a great time to make sure your smoke and CO detectors are working. Check batteries and expiration dates – smoke detectors are typically good for 10 years, and CO detectors last for about six years.
5. Clean your Humidifiers
Dry winter air can be tough on your skin and airways. Without regular cleaning, humidifiers can become prime places for growing mold and other microbes, which then stream into the air along with water vapor. These air pollutants can be especially problematic for people with asthma, allergies, or other breathing issues. You and your home will feel more comfortable if you keep your central humidifier in tip-top shape during these dry colder months. First, inspect the plates or pads and if necessary, clean them in a strong laundry detergent solution. Rinse and scrape off mineral deposits with a wire brush or steel wool.
To keep your humidifier clean, it’s important to keep up the maintenance daily. Empty the water tank and refill with fresh water daily. Empty the humidifier of standing water each day, rinse it out, and refill with new water before you turn it on.
Lawn and Garden Maintenance
1. Organize your Garage
It’s very important to finish up important outdoor preventative maintenance now, so you’re not working in the cold during the middle of winter. Follow these tips below to help maintain your garage during the colder months
- Clean Up
i. Give your garage an exterior cleaning. You can use a power washing tool or a general hose with mild soap and water to get rid of dust and dirt
ii. Inside the garage, wash the floor to get rid of any fluids, dirt, or stains that might build up.
iii. Be sure to clean out the gutters and downspouts and ensure all the joints and brackets of your garage are tight.
- Get Organized
i. Straighten everything up in your garage while keeping an eye out for any mold, mildew, bugs, or concrete damage.
ii. Take out your tools needed for the fall and winter seasons. Be sure to put away any summer-specific tools.
iii. Test the endurance for these seasonal tools before they are needed. You do not want to find out your snowblower is out of commission right when you need it the most.
i. Be sure your garage door has no issues opening and closing. Use a silicone-based lubricant if it does.
i. Protect yourself from broken or busted pipes by covering and/or insulating all exposed pipes in the garage.
ii. Double-check that your weather stripping and seals are in-tack and not worn out. These parts help keep your garage warmer and prevent moisture from getting in.
iii. Consider adding or replacing insulation to your garage door if it’s not already insulated.
2. Clear Leaves From the Lawn
Lawn maintenance and lawn care are important to take care of before the winter sets in. Raking leaves and aerating will prevent your lawn and garden beds from suffocating. Help your lawn roots to thrive by aerating the soil. This means making holes in the ground by plugging out bits of soil. This will allow the necessary nutrients to enter deep into your lawn to the roots.
Porch and Deck Maintenance
1. Check the Supports, Stairs, and Ailings
Now with the cold front coming in, it’s important to check and maintain the railings, supports, stairs, and ailings of your porch and deck. With the frost coming in, you don’t want people slipping on steps or losing grip on the railings of your deck.
2. Clean Porch and Deck Furniture
With the rains and snow coming in for the season, it’s important to clear any outside furniture you may have that can be affected by the coming season. Use protective coverings on your furniture or move them into the garage or storage sheds.
3. Empty Soil from Pots and Planters
Some plants can’t handle the colder seasons coming in. It’s important to ensure that the plants and pots that you currently have outside can withstand the cold. In rainy seasons, some pots may overfill with water and kill off your plant or make a mess on your porch or deck. Find the right plants for your curb appeal in our article here.
1. Examine your Pool Cover
Inspect your pool cover for any damage and replace it if necessary. You want to make sure that your pool cover will be able to handle the coming weather.