Your Fall Home Maintenance To-Do List:
Everybody knows about Spring Cleaning – you know, that one time of year where you clean every inch of your home, purge any unnecessary items and make repairs or replace anything broken or damaged – but, you don’t often hear about people cleaning their homes for fall. As it turns out, there is a lot that you can do to prep your home for the colder months ahead – and you can start right now!
We’ve compiled a to-do list for your home maintenance this fall so that you can be the most prepared homeowner on your block come first snow.
Clean your gutters and downspouts
Cleaning your gutters and downspouts can be a tedious, strenuous job, but it’s one that needs to get done – especially before the winter. Take care to remove any debris or blockages that you might find, and check for any damages that could prove to be a costlier problem down the line.
Why it’s important: any blockages could cause water to build up and not pour out as it should. When it gets colder out, these pools of water will eventually freeze and can cause damage to gutters and downspouts. While you’re cleaning out your gutters, check for any damages now to prevent any further harm from hardier weather patterns.
Check your roof
While you’re already up on your ladder cleaning out your gutters for this year’s round of fall home maintenance, why not take a look at your roof and make sure it’s in tip-top shape for the cold winter ahead? Check for any signs of damage (such as typical wear and tear) and replace any loose shingles as soon as possible.
Why it’s important: it only takes one loose or damaged shingle to let water in. As the weather gets colder, and we cycle between rainy days, to snowy days, the constant rain-freeze pattern can cause costly damages to both the infrastructure of the home, as well as water damage inside the home. Plus, we all know how rainy the lower mainland can get this time of year, so it’s best to start this project as soon as you can.
Drain garden hoses
Once the weather starts cooling down, it can be easy to forget about your garden hose. It can lay there on the ground, covered in snow and ice for months before you realize later in the spring that you forgot it outside back in October. So, this year, make a mental note to remove your hoses from any outdoor faucets and most importantly, drain them out. Then, store your garden hoses away indoors and out of the cold (like in a garage).
Why it’s important: when you forget to detach your hoses from an outside source, the water that is left inside the hose can then freeze and cause damage from the inside. Plus, if you leave your hose hooked up to your indoor piping, this can cause a chain reaction and it’s possible for the adjoined pipes to then freeze and crack.
Prepare gas-operated tools for winter storage
This one tends to be forgotten about as the weather cools down, but it’s an important part of your fall home maintenance to-do list. With this task, you have two options: you can either drain the gas completely out of your gas-operated machinery or you can purchase a fuel stabilizer to add to the old fuel (if you don’t want to have to throw away perfectly good gas, that is).
Why it’s important: old fuel has the nasty habit of degrading power tools over time and can cause them to no longer start the way they should – especially if they’ve been sitting in storage all fall and winter long.
Tune-up your furnace
The next step in your fall home maintenance to-do list is to check to make sure that your furnace is in working condition. Test it out, make sure it heats your home the way it should, and while you’re at it – isn’t it about time that you replaced the filter? Also, it probably wouldn’t hurt to have a professional do a tune-up on your furnace, especially if it’s been over a year since the last time it was serviced.
Why it’s important: this one is easy – you don’t want to wait until after it drops below 0 degrees celsius before you find out that the furnace isn’t working. Not to mention, a poorly working furnace can potentially be a fire hazard.
Feed & maintain your lawn
It might seem counterintuitive to focus on yard work when you know that your lawn will be covered under inches of snow in a few months, but hear us out. If you want to cut back on the amount of work you’ll need to do in the spring to get your lawn back up to snuff, it doesn’t hurt to start working on it now. Try fertilizing it once or twice this fall, then try overseeding your lawn, letting it aerate, and giving it one last mow before it starts snowing.
Why it’s important: your lawn starts to stow away food for the winter in the fall, so if you want your grass to green that much quicker in the spring, start fertilizing it now. Also, dead leaves can cause damage to a lawnmower as well as encourage disease to spread to your lawn – so definitely rake those up if you want a healthy, green lawn come next spring.
Prepare your deck
Not only should you get ahead on your lawn, but you should also get a head start on your deck. Wash it down and get rid of any debris or mold. Make repairs if you have to, and replace any rotted boards. Then, weather depending, you can stain and seal your deck one last time before the snow starts falling.
Why it’s important: pretty soon, your deck will be covered in sheets of snow and ice and you’ll end up with a lot of work to do in the spring. Get ahead of the curb by starting now and prepping your deck beforehand.
Stow-away patio furniture
I mean, this one is pretty self-explanatory.
Why it’s important: a combination of cold weather, rain, ice, snow, and wind can cause damage to your expensive patio furniture such as rips, tears, and even mold. Animals can also see these as good places to nest away from the weather conditions, so even though your patio set is stunning, we recommend storing it away until the spring.
Winterize your A/C
You’re probably not going to be using your air conditioner this fall and winter, so you might as well winterize it for the upcoming months. Firstly, remove the A/C unit from its power source and then clean out any debris so that it will be up and in working order come spring. Then, place a protective covering over it to protect it from the elements – a piece of plywood usually does the trick.
If you own a removable, window A/C unit, simply take it out of the window completely or find some way to cover it to prevent cold air seeping into your home.
Why it’s important: if you leave your A/C plugged in, sometimes it might still kick on even when it’s minus ten outside – and in that kind of weather, it will likely incur damage. Then, if you want to get ahead of spring cleaning, clear out any debris now to save yourself a chore later on in a few months. Lastly, placing a protective covering (like a piece of plywood) prevents the buildup of snow and ice on your unit and protect it from damage.
Maintain your fireplace & chimney
Just like your furnace, you also should add checking your fireplace to make sure it’s in working condition to your fall home maintenance to-do list. After you’ve confirmed that it’s in working order, it would be a good idea to have a professional come in to inspect your fireplace and chimney and give it a sweep. The fall is also the perfect time to stock up on wood if you have a wood-burning fireplace.
Why it’s important: Debris such as soot, leaves, and even birds nests can find their way into fireplaces and chimneys, and once you start using your fireplace again, these can be dangerous fire hazards. Plus, you’ll also want to make sure your fireplace is in working condition before it gets too cold outside!
Maintain smoke and carbon monoxide monitors/detectors
Fall is a great time to test out your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors. Once you know that they’re working, it’s always a smart idea to replace old batteries so you can be confident that they’ll still be operational a few months down the line.
Why it’s important: with the colder weather, it’s more likely that you’ll start having your windows closed all the time. With the lack of fresh air coming through and with gas furnaces and fireplaces running more often, there is an increased chance of noxious gases seeping into the home’s atmosphere. Plus, with the heat running on a daily basis, there is more chance of a fire occurring.
Next on your fall home maintenance to-do list is to replace worn weatherstripping. Caulk any gaps found around windows, door frames, exterior pipes, and faucets. If you find any gaps on exterior walls, make sure to seal those, too.
Why it’s important: having drafts in the home in the fall and wintertime can increase your annual heating/cooling bill, so you’ll want to make sure you seal those gaps up well. Also, holes on the outside of your home are very inviting to nesting animals who are trying to get out of the cold – try using spray foam on larger gaps to prevent a critter infestation.
Check attic ventilation and insulation
You don’t want to be halfway through December before you realize that your roof is leaking hot air, so it’s best to check that your attic is well insulated before the cold weather sets in. Check the attic door for any gaps that could potentially leak warm air into the attic and remove debris from the attic vents.
Why it’s important: Having a well-insulated attic can help keep the cost of heating your home down, and having a well-ventilated attic is key to prolonging the life of your roof. If you notice any gaps in the attic door that could potentially leak warm air into the attic, it’s best to seal those off – warm air that seeps into the attic can predispose your roof to damage in the winter, such as ice dams.
Winterize your pool
Sad as it is to say, summer is nearly over and winter is right around the corner, so it’s time again to winterize your pool (if you have one). Your first step in this fall home maintenance task is to purchase a winter treatment kit for your pool. Then, remove debris from your pool and partly drain out the water. Follow the instructions on your treatment kit and install a pool cover to help keep out any additional debris.
Why it’s important: winterizing your pool prevents costly damage to expensive pool equipment. Cold weather and ice can cause the vinyl lining to tear and, as you’re probably no longer running your filter in the winter, bacteria and algae can easily build up and become a costly problem next spring. You’ll also want to lower your pool water by about 3’-18’ (depending on the pool) – take care not to remove all of the water, as having water in the pool will help the cover stay sturdy (and it’s a lot more expensive to refill than just re-filter).
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