Summer is coming to an end, and it’s finally starting to get cooler. With fall approaching and winter fast on its heels, there’s a lot to do around the house to make sure it’s ready for the change in weather. Regular maintenance will make it less likely that you get a surprise at the worst time and make your home more energy efficient as well. With its milder weather, fall is a great time for these tasks. By going through an essential fall maintenance checklist now, you can make sure your house is ready for winter.
Not all of these steps will be necessary for every house or region, so feel free to pick and choose what works for you. Also, if a task seems too difficult or dangerous (such as stomping around on the roof), please call in a professional instead of doing it yourself.
Check for cracks. Use caulk to repair any damage in areas where masonry and siding meet and around windows, doors, and utility accesses. Caulking is quick and easy and fixes numerous problems. No matter what climate you live in, water and temperature damage can occur. Keep your house well insulated and prevent mold and water damage by fixing up those cracks!
Check for peeling paint. If paint is peeling or blistering on the exterior of your house, it means the layer is no longer fully protecting the wall, and damage will occur. Fixing this problem early will be cheaper in the long run.
Check the garage door seals. Weather-strip the garage door, and make sure the seal between the door and the ground is tight.
Check the driveway. If you find any damage, clean it, repair with driveway filler, and coat with sealer.
Set up the windows and doors. Remove your screens from the windows and doors, treat them with a protective coating, and store them for the months when you don’t want to open up the house. Install storm windows and doors.
Clean out the gutters. After the leaves fall, make sure your gutters and downspouts are clear. Flush them out, check to make sure the joints are in good condition, and tighten any loose brackets. Clogged gutters can cause damage from water and ice. If your gutters are getting old, consider replacing them with new ones that include leaf guards to make the job easier.
Inspect the roof. Temperature changes can cause roof shingles to become loose and fall off, opening your house to all sorts of problems in the winter. Water damage and poor insulation can be devastating in the winter, and you don’t want to find out during a storm that you have a leak.
Check the porch and deck. Make sure railings, handrails, stairs, and supports are in good condition
Trim the trees and bushes. It’s much easier to trim the foliage after the majority of the leaves have fallen.
Fertilize the lawn. A high phosphorus mix of fertilizer will help your grass bounce back when spring returns.
Organize your garage. Make sure everything is clean, in its place, and ready for summer equipment storage.
Put equipment into storage. Check your garden tools, yard equipment, and deck furniture for damage, make repairs if necessary, and store or cover them. Drain the hoses and store them indoors, and shut off all water valves to prevent ice damage.
Drain fuel from gas-powered equipment such as lawn mowers, chain saws, and leaf blowers.
Check winter equipment. Make sure all of your snow and cold weather equipment is in working order and ready to be used.
Check and fill bird feeders. If you plan on feeding birds during the winter, it’s best to continue with the feeding regularly throughout the colder months.
Empty soil from plant pots. This will prevent ice damage and cracking that can ruin good clay pots.
Prepare the pool. If you have a pool or hot tub, check the cover for damage and replace it if necessary. Drain and clean the pool before it gets cold.
Check seals around windows and doors. As with the outdoor fall maintenance, make sure you check the indoor seals as well. A large portion of energy costs for a house in the winter comes from heating. The more insulated your home is, the less money you’ll have to spend to keep it warm. Apply weather stripping and caulk where necessary. Don’t forget windows in the basement and attic.
Having your furnace and heating system checked. Bring in a professional for a heating system checkup before anything goes wrong. Preventative maintenance is the best way to ensure that your appliances don’t fail at the worst possible time, and it will make sure they run more efficiently.
Check the fireplace. Make sure your fireplace is cleaned out and has no visible cracks or other problems. Have a professional chimneysweep clear out the chimney. A stuffed up chimney is a dangerous fire hazard, so make sure it’s it working order before using it each year.
Change the direction of your ceiling fans. When the weather is hot, you want your fans blowing air down towards you to cool you off. In the winter, however, it’s better to change your fans to blow upwards to shove the hot air at the ceiling downward.
Test the smoke and carbon dioxide detectors. Make sure you have extra batteries on hand.
Prepare the air conditioner for winter. Clean the outside of the air conditioner and vacuum its internal parts. If you have window AC units, remove them and put them in storage. If you have a unit that stays outdoors, cover it with a tarp or dedicated AC cover.
Clean any humidifiers regularly. This keep bacteria from growing in the moist environment of the appliance.
By taking advantage of the mild fall weather, it's easy to prepare your house for winter. Take these fall maintenance steps to make your house more energy efficient and maybe even prevent serious and costly problems from arising during the winter. If you want more tips about improving home energy efficiency, check out Complete Protection's blog here.