When the chill starts creeping in through the windows and doors, it's time to get ready for the big freeze. We've put together a fall home maintenance checklist, so you can prepare your home for the cold with confidence.
Fall Home Maintenance
As colder weather approaches, it is time to think about the damage that it can cause to your home. It would be impossible to entirely prevent weather and seasonal elements from damaging your home. But routine maintenance in every season goes a long way toward helping you avoid big, costly problems, and even having to file a homeowners insurance claim.
As the colder weather approaches, consider the following home maintenance activities to prepare your home and property for winter and help you avoid costly problems.
Fall Home Maintenance Checklist
Check the following items off your list for yard cleanup and home maintenance to prepare your home for cooler weather.
- General cleanup: Dispose of old newspapers and properly dispose of hazardous household chemicals. Store flammable materials and poisons in approved, clearly labeled containers. Keep a clear space around heaters, furnaces, and other heat-producing appliances.
- Leaves: Fallen leaves can kill grass and leaf piles can attract rodents. Clear and properly dispose of all accumulating leaves on your property.
- Gutters and downspouts: Inspect and clean your gutters several times during fall and before winter sets in, especially if you have a lot of trees in your yard. Gutters and downspouts should direct water away from the foundation and away from walkways and driveways to avoid icing that could cause slips and falls.
- Windows and doors: Seal gaps and cracks with weather stripping, caulk, or door sweeps. If necessary purchase a plastic sheeting kit and place plastic around the windows to keep heat from escaping. Consider installing newer windows or doors if yours are aged and in bad shape.
- Roof: Check for signs of sagging or curled shingles, or for corroded flashing or leaking vents. Replace any damaged or missing shingles.
- Sidewalks, driveways, and steps: Repair any damage that could lead to slips, falls, and trips during slippery winter months.
- Water supplies: Close your hoses, shut off the inside valves that control the water flow to the hose spigots, then drain any leftover water out of the pipes and hoses. Also be sure to drain any water supply lines for irrigation systems and pools, and turn off any inside valves that control them. Help prevent freezing by insulating pipes in unheated areas.
- Furnace/heating system: Install a programmable thermostat if you don’t already have one. Inspect heating ducts and vents, and clear away anything that may have gotten into them over the summer months. Have a professional tune your furnace in order to reduce temperature variations, improve air quality, and protect against dangerous carbon monoxide levels. Clean or replace dirty furnace filters, and continue to replace the filter every month during the winter.
- Chimney and fireplace: Check your fireplace for soot or creosote buildup, and have the chimney cleaned by a professional chimney sweep. Be sure the fireplace damper closes tightly to prevent drafts. Clean and clear your fireplace before lighting the first fire of the season
- Humidifier: Clean out your humidifier and be sure that it is working properly.
- Smoke alarms: Test smoke and carbon monoxide detectors.
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Other Fall Home Maintenance Projects
If you’re feeling ambitious and get through the checklist quickly, here are some other fall home maintenance projects you might want to dive into.
Routine Sump Pump Maintenance
Even if your sump pump sits for months without use, you should always be sure it is in good working order, especially before the wet autumn and winter months. You should be checking your sump pump regularly.
Every 3 – 4 months you should:
- Clean the pump inlet screen.
- Check the power cord to be sure it is connected to power.
- Dump a bucket of water into the crock to raise the float and make sure the pump turns on.
Do the following at least once a year:
- Remove, clean, and inspect the pump.
- Clean out the sump crock.
- Review the owner’s manual to determine if the pump bearings require maintenance.
- Replace the pump if necessary.
- Pour water in the sump crock to raise the float and be sure the pump turns on.
- Adjust the float if necessary.
Having your home's exterior and windows power washed and freed of summer dust and grime won't just make your home look sparkling clean, it also will help prevent the growth of mold and mildew over the wet fall and winter months.
Clean Your Carpets
It’s hard to find the perfect time to clean your carpets, but with the kids away at school and less humidity in the air, fall is as close to perfect as it gets. Warm daytime temperatures are perfect for opening the doors and windows while your freshly cleaned carpets dry out faster than they would in winter or summer.