Keeping up on some simple home maintenance tasks will help keep systems within your home functioning properly, improve energy efficiency and prevent costly repairs. With winter just around the corner, fall is an important time to get these jobs done. You want to protect your home from the harsh weather winter brings and in most cases, you won’t be able to finish these jobs once the cold weather hits.
Here are some fall home maintenance tips:
Prepare your lawn and yard for winter.
Cleaning up and preparing your lawn for the winter can give it a head start for growing in the spring. Rake your lawn and remove fallen leaves and other debris. If heavy snow compresses leaves on your lawn it can cause mildew or snow mould growth and your lawn won’t be getting the air it needs to grow come spring.
Fall is also a great time to aerate, seed and fertilize your lawn. The cooler weather and rain fall that comes in the autumn will give good results for reseeding and repairing those bare spots. Learn more fall lawn and yard maintenance tips.
Remove and store your garden hoses and sprinklers.
Turn off the water line that goes out to your outdoor faucets. Often this turn off valve can be found in the exposed ceiling in your basement’s utility or storage room. Once it is off, remove your garden hose from the faucet and let it run to get the access water out. This will prevent water from freezing in that pipe which can lead to bursting, leaks and potential water damage. Store your garden hose and sprinklers in your garage or shed.
Seal air leaks in your windows and doors.
Inspect your windows and doors inside and out and look for leaks where heat can escape from your home. Not only will broken seals allow your warm air to escape, it might also allow moisture in which can cause some serious damage. Replace cracked or damaged weather stripping and caulking. If you find a seal that is broken, remove the old dried out caulking and re-caulk that area to prevent air leakage. This will boost your home’s energy efficiency and help you save money on energy over the winter months.
While you are at it, give your home’s exterior an inspection looking for damaged seals around any pipes that enter your home and exterior trim.
Inspect your roof for damage.
Take a walk around your home and inspect your roofing for curling or missing shingles, flashing that is coming away from the roof or other damage. If you need to, carefully climb a ladder to get onto the roof for a closer look. If you do have shingles that are curling or coming away from your roof, you likely need a roof replacement. Contacting a reputable roofing contractor so you can get it done before the snow flies, or at the very least, get the compromised areas repaired to protect your home over the winter.
Clean out your gutters.
Your eavestroughs play a major role in your roofing system and protecting your home from flooding and water damage. Once all the leaves have fallen off the trees, check your eavestroughs and clear them of all debris. Leaves, debris and other guck will prevent rain water and melting snow from freely flowing through the gutters, down the downspout and away from your home. If your gutters are not catching the water, any run off along the side of your house can cause flooding around your home that can get into the basement. More than that, water stuck in your gutters will repetitively freeze and thaw over the winter, causing ice dams, your eavestroughs to detach from the roof and other damage.
Make sure that your downspouts are long enough to properly drain water from your eavestroughs far away from your foundation. They should extend at least 10 feet from the house.
Inspect your home’s perimeter for drainage issues.
After you’ve cleaned out your gutters, take a walk around your home and make sure that the ground around your foundation is sloping away from your house. If you do not have proper grading around your house, water might soak into the ground around your foundation, leading to cracks and leaks. A landscaper can help you improve your grading.
Check your furnace and have it serviced.
The last thing you want is for your furnace to give up on you in the middle of a cold, dark winter’s night! Regular furnace maintenance and service will ensure your heating system is running properly, at peak efficiency and help prevent those inconvenient and expensive break downs. An HVAC technician can give your entire heating system an inspection, offer suggestions for a tune up and any require repairs. Learn more about why annual furnace maintenance is so important.
The fall is also a good time to replace your furnace filter. Having clean filters will not only boost the performance of your furnace, but will also ensure cleaner air is blowing into your home.
Have your fireplace inspected and cleaned.
If you have a wood burning fireplace, it is essential that you have it inspected by a professional to ensure it is safe for use. They will check the firebox, flue and damper for any damage or safety issues and do any needed repairs. You should also clean out the fireplace for the season and hire a professional chimney sweeper. This is not a great DIY job. Chimney sweepers have the proper tools and knowledge to do it properly and ensure your chimney is safe to use.
If you have a gas fireplace, you should also make sure it is clean and safe to use. In most cities, the local utility provider offers a free inspection service for natural gas appliances. You can also contact a professional fireplace company to clean and inspect your gas fireplace, making sure it is well ventilated and ready to be used safely this winter.