Fall Maintenance Checklist
It would be amazing if all you needed to prep your home for fall was hang a wreath and light a bunch of pumpkin spice candles. As the season begins to change, it’s time to prep your home for falling leaves, cooler weather, and winter storms. Tackling a few fall home maintenance tasks now can help ward off costly issues later in the season, so you can enjoy everything you love about autumn worry-free.
1. Check for drafts and air leaks
Heat loss through windows is responsible for 25-30 percent of heating energy use, according to the U.S. Department of Energy. Check for missing or damaged caulk around windows, doors, and entry points for electrical, cable, phone, and gas. Seal any gaps with a suitable caulk. Installing seasonal weatherstripping is easily the most cost-effective way to rein in heating and cooling costs.
2. Clean your gutters
You’re so used to your gutters working properly — and draining thousands of gallons of water from your roof yearly — that you forget they could use a little TLC. Clogged gutters can lead to damaged exterior surfaces and water in your basement. They are also more prone to rust and corrosion. Before the leaves fly this fall, clean your gutters, then cover them with mesh gutter guards to keep debris from returning.
3. Inspect your attic and roof
Finding the source of roof complications can be time-consuming. Stop problems before ice and winter winds turn them from annoyances into disasters. Evaluate roof areas that may be prone to ice damming, and consult with a professional on the strategic use of de-icing cables and heat tape to prevent water back-up and leaks. Adding insulation in your attic is a relatively inexpensive upgrade and is usually very cost effective in preventing heat loss and ice dams from forming.
4. Change your batteries
Once a year you should be checking to make sure all smoke detectors and carbon monoxide devices are working. Since you’re already testing everything else out, you might as well add this to the list.
5. Freshen your filters
Furnace filters trap dust that would otherwise be distributed throughout your home. If your filters are clogged, it’s harder to keep your home at the temperature you want it too be which will increase your heating bills. Simple monthly cleaning is all it takes to keep these filters free of debris. Disposable filters can be vacuumed once before replacement. Foam filters can also be vacuumed, but they don’t need to be replaced unless they are damaged. If the filter is metal or electrostatic, remove and wash it with a firm water spray.
6. Protect water systems from freezing temperatures
Take steps to ensure that outside faucets and in ground irrigation systems don’t freeze and burst. Close any shut-off valves serving outside faucets, then open the outside faucet to drain the line. If you don’t have shut-off valves and your faucets are not “freeze-proof ” types, you might benefit from inexpensive styrofoam faucet covers which are sold at many home centers. To freezeproof an in-ground irrigation system, follow the manufacturer’s procedure for draining and protecting it from winter damage.
7. Give your furnace a checkup
Once a year, it’s a good idea to have your heating system inspected by a professional. To avoid the last-minute rush, 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, poor performance, erratic behavior.
8. Prep your lawn for winter
Raking leaves and aerating will prevent your lawn and garden beds from suffocating. Fertilizing and winterizing grass, trees, and shrubs will allow your greenery to enter its winter slumber comfortably and properly nourished.
9. Ready your fireplace
Even if you use your fireplace only occasionally, you should check it annually for damage 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. For most people, the best option is to have your entire chimney system inspected by a chimney sweep. Once you know what to look for, you can perform the inspection by shining a bright flashlight up the flue, looking for any deposits approaching 1/8 inch thick. These deposits should be cleaned by an experienced chimney professional.
House Beaufiful, Danielle Tullo, Sep 11, 2019, https://www.housebeautiful.com/lifestyle/cleaning-tips/a22652916/fall-home-maintenance-checklist/
Family Handyman, Sep. 28, 2022, https://www.familyhandyman.com/list/fall-home-maintenance-checklist/
Better Homes & Gardens, Jessica Bennett, August 26, 2015, https://www.bhg.com/home-improvement/advice/your-homes-fall-checklist/
Images from: Freepik.com
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