How To Master Fall Home Maintenance
As the days become shorter and cooler, there are some basic home maintenance tasks to take care to prepare your home for the colder, harsher days to come. Below is our list of exterior fall home maintenance must-dos to keep your house in tip-top shape.
Trim trees and bushes around home
While you are out dealing with all of the fallen leaves, get out your pruners and take a walk around your property. It’s good practice to keep branches and foliage away from your home to discourage insects and pests. Plus, you’ll want to remove any older branches that might fall under the weight of heavy snow.
Unless you’ve got a gutter screen installed, you’ll need to clean out your gutters on a regular basis. It’s especially important as we enter into the cold weather seasons to prevent ice dams from building which can cause leaks and home damage. Lowe’s has a great basic tutorial video here.
Aerate, fertilize and seed your lawn
Beyond cleaning up fallen leaves, early fall is a great time to prepare your lawn for spring growth. Aerating is the process of perforating your soil with small holes to better allow air, water and nutrients in. You might consider aerating if your lawn gets heavy use or dries out easily and has a spongy feel when you walk on it. If you have your own aerating tool, great. If not, you can rent one from your local hardware store or big box. Fall is also the best time to re-seed for cool season grasses that are prevalent in the top half of the U.S. And don’t forget to fertilize your lawn about six weeks before the first expected frost.
Have burners and water heater serviced
Cooler temperatures mean turning on your heat again. Be sure your system is operating optimally by having it serviced. Servicing your HVAC system once a year is recommended to keep it operating efficiently and to prevent any larger service issues down the road. Changing out filters on your units is something you can do yourself and will improve the efficiency of your heater as well as the air quality in your home.
Caulk gaps around windows and doors
Another way to get the house ready for cooler temps is to keep drafts at bay. One of the biggest energy stealing culprits, gaps around windows and doors are an easy fix. Use latex caulk if you want to paint the area to match trim or the house, or silicone if painting isn’t important. Home Depot has a good video tutorial on caulking gaps here.
Replace weatherstripping around doors
Another energy suck are poorly weatherstripped doors. Weatherstripping can fail from age and use, but its a relatively easy fix. And an 1/8″ gap around a door is like drilling a 5 1/2″ hole in your wall and letting the air blow in. Bob Vila tells you how to weatherstrip here.
Get your chimney cleaned
Nothing is a cozy in the long winter months as a warm fire in the hearth. Get ready for the indoor burning season by getting your chiment checked. The Chimney Safety Institute of America recommends that chimneys been inspected once a year and cleaned if necessary. Check out their tips for hiring a chimney sweep, including a list of CSIA certified sweeps by zip code here.
Remove outside hoses, drain and store for winter
The average garden hose will last a lot longer if it is drained and put away for the winter. Plus ice can travel up the hose and back into the house and cause problems with your plumbing. It’s best practice to decouple all hoses from the spigots, drain them and store them before the first frost is expected in your area.
Winterize exterior water faucets and sprinklers
Chances are you have at least one outdoor faucet on your house. To prevent frozen pipes, you’ll want to turn off the water to these faucets for the winter months. Boston Standard Plumbing has a great tutorial to do that here.
Winterize gas-powered lawn equipment by draining any remaining oil and gas for the winter
The end of the season is a good time to plan maintenance on your gas-powered lawn equipment. If you haven’t done it in the spring, before putting your tools away for the winter, give the machines a good brushing (or hosing) off, check the air filter and spark plugs and remove any gas or oil for over-winter storage. Home Depot has a good step-by-step here.
Start up snow blower and have serviced if necessary
Don’t wait until the first blizzard hits to check and see if your snow blower is working properly. When you put your lawn mower away and bring out your blower, add gas and oil and start it up to make sure its ready to go fro the first snowfall!
Doing these things this fall will make sure your home and its equipment will be in great shape to keep you safe and warm this winter. Get a copy of this checklist and the full planner that includes an equipment checklist, seasonal interior and exterior tasks, home maintenance contact sheet and paint reference list, here.