Your Fall Home Maintenance Checklist
September 16, 2021
As summer draws to an end, the official start of fall is approaching, and it is the perfect time to start your fall maintenance checklist.
Although every home is different, we’ve put together a helpful list of tasks homeowners should complete for a seamless switch from the heat and sun of summer to the colder and shorter days of winter.
Check the roof for damaged, warped, or missing shingles and repair or replace them. If you are not comfortable doing this yourself, or you notice significant damage, have your roof inspected by a professional to mitigate larger issues in the future.Gutters
Fall foliage is beautiful but less so when it blocks your gutters. If the gutters are backed up and not draining correctly, the water can freeze, and the ice will expand in the corners and junctions. The expansion can stress sensitive areas causing breaks or leaks in the system, which can damage the walls of your home.Downspouts
Water draining from the gutters needs to be directed away from the house. If water pools too close to the foundation, it can cause damage. Be mindful of where the water may drain and pool in high traffic areas like driveways, walkways, and pet areas, as it can freeze and create a hidden slip hazard.Overhangs
Small creatures love finding holes to nestle in and hide from the cold. As cute as they are, it won’t be so fun when they have burrowed into your home. Check under overhangs for holes or damage and block or repair any areas a creature may be able to gain access.Chimney
Nothing says fall like relaxing in front of your fireplace with a warm beverage. But before you light that first fire of the season, you should have your chimney cleaned and inspected. Dirty chimneys can cause chimney fires which can damage structures and destroy homes.Walkways and Driveways
Check for any cracks or trip hazards in walkways and driveways. Winter weather can cause a small crack to expand and turn into a significant headache come spring. So, fix anything you can before the bad weather comes. Additionally, remove any loose bricks or stones that might become buried by snow, increasing the risk of tripping.Lights
One of the hardest things to acclimate to is the loss of daylight during the fall and winter months. Check all exterior lightening to make sure it is working and fix anything that is not. You want to make sure you have ample light to navigate the winter conditions when entering and exiting your house in the dark.Patio Furniture
Clean your patio furniture at the end of the season and tarp it off to keep it dry and out of the elements. If you can remove your furniture and store it in a garage or shed, that is ideal. But if not, patio furniture is made to withstand some weathering so take precautions to secure it and minimize exposure as best you can.Landscaping
Taking care of your lawn and gardens is not only a spring and summer activity. It is a year-long endeavor with the focus shifting to different aspects as the seasons change.
As summer ends, maintain trimming and cutting until everything stops growing. At this point, a final pruning will protect plants, bushes, and trees from damage during the winter weather.
- Shut off all outdoor water spigots and drain and remove hoses. If you have any exposed piping outside your house, it’s a good idea to insulate it.
- Remove any annual plants from your garden as they will not be coming back. Prepare your perennials for the cold by mulching and warping them in burlap as needed. This will ensure they are insulated and protected against the cold and will come back and flourish. You can also plant bulbs at this time, and you’ll be happy to see them spring up when the weather starts to turn.
- To rake your leaves or not rake your leaves, that is the question. If the leaf covering is substantial and will suffocate the lawn, you should rake them. However, leaving a light layer of leaves and mulching them has considerable benefits for the lawn and the surrounding environment.
- Leaves protect roots, keep the soil moist, inhibit weeds, and break down and supply nutrients to the soil and plants.
- Many insects live in the leaves—if you’ve ever raked up leaves left for a while, you’ve probably seen some gnarly worms and other bugs—and birds depend on the insects to feed their babies in the spring.
Interior PrepDoors andWindows
Drafty doors and windows can significantly impact your heating efficiency and make your utility bills higher. A simple solution to fix drafts is weather stripping and caulking. You will be surprised at how much lower your heating costs can be if you thoroughly examine and seal all windows and doors.
It’s also a good idea to remove your screens. Removing the screen will prevent snow from getting trapped between the screen and the window, which can damage the window, windowsill, and screen.
Other benefits of removing the screens are increased solar heat, increased natural light, and overall protection of your screens.HVAC
Remove your window air conditioning units when they are no longer in use. If you have nowhere to store them, and they will remain in the window, wrap them with an insulated cover to seal any drafts.
Have your furnace and heating system inspected and serviced. Preventative maintenance is essential to ensure your equipment works efficiently for as long as possible. Servicing your system will also save you money because the equipment will be performing at the optimal level.Detectors
Test your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors. Depending on what detectors you have, you may also need to change the batteries. Following is the recommended action to take from the National Fire Protection Agency (NFPA):
- Smoke alarms with non-replaceable 10-year batteries are designed to remain effective for up to 10 years. If the alarm chirps, warning that the battery is low, replace the entire smoke alarm right away.
- Smoke alarms with any other type of battery need a new battery at least once a year. If that alarm chirps, warning the battery is low, replace the battery right away.
- When replacing a battery, follow the manufacturer’s list of batteries on the back of the alarm or manufacturer’s instructions. The manufacturer’s instructions are specific to the batteries (brand and model) that must be used. The smoke alarm may not work properly if a different kind of battery is used.
Check your fire extinguishers to make sure they are full and where they belong. Review where they are kept and how to use them with all age-appropriate members of the household.
To operate a fire extinguisher, remember the word PASS:
- Pull the pin. Hold the extinguisher with the nozzle pointing away from you and release the locking mechanism.
- Aim low. Point the extinguisher at the base of the fire.
- Squeeze the lever slowly and evenly.
- Sweep the nozzle from side to side.
Knowing where your water shut-off valves are can help you quickly act if water starts gushing out of a pipe. It takes a short amount of time for water to become problematic, even if the leak doesn’t seem all too aggressive.
You should locate all the shut-off valves and test them at least once a year. Here are some locations where valves are located:
- Under bathroom sinks
- Under kitchen sinks
- At each toilet
- At the water heater supply
- At each hose bib
- At the water main, inside the house
- At the water meter on the exterior of the house
You may have additional shutoffs if you have any other water features in your house.
To test the shut-off valves:
- Turn on the water (or use the water feature)
- Turn the shut-off valve to the closed position
- Check that the water stops flowing when the valve is closed
- Turn the valve back to the open position
If you have any issues while testing the valves, you should contact a plumber and have the valve repaired or replaced as needed.Have Fun
Now that all of that is out of the way, it’s time to start having fun! Pull out the decorations, start prepping Halloween costumes, go apple picking, carve pumpkins, root for your favorite football team, all while knowing your home is secure and ready for winter.
Categories: helpful tips