Fall Home Maintenance: Get in Gear for Colder Months
Fall is a beautiful time of year, featuring vibrant foliage and cooler temperatures. As the leaves start to come down, it's a signal for homeowners to gear up for some essential maintenance tasks.
Our Expert, Chris Holte, has been in the building maintenance field for hotels, multi-family, and single-family homes for over 10 years. As one of our trusted Frontdoor Experts, Chris has shared his experience on what you can perform for your home in our maintenance checklist. The following fall maintenance tips will ensure you’re on the right track as autumn paves the way for winter months.
Tips from a Frontdoor Expert
1. Efficiency of Your Ceiling Fan
One often-overlooked tip is adjusting your ceiling fan's rotation. Ceiling fans come with a switch to change between clockwise and counterclockwise rotations. By simply moving the switch on the side to ensure it is turning clockwise, this will help push the air down and circulate it better throughout the home. In summer, set it counterclockwise for a cooling effect, while in winter, choose a clockwise rotation to push warm air down for better home circulation. Remember to clean the blades before switching and ensure the fan is well-balanced for smooth operation.
2. Prepare For Winter
Another crucial maintenance step is winterizing your lawn equipment after the last mow of the season. This involves draining fuel or using a stabilizer and keeping the mower's 12v battery charged. Additionally, prevent your lawn mower deck from rusting by cleaning out excess grass clippings stuck underneath. If rust is already visible, use a wire brush to remove it and apply rust-resistant paint for protection.
This time of year is a good time to install insulated covers over all your outside faucets. Especially in areas where the weather gets below freezing.
Fall maintenance and preparation is essential as a responsible homeowner. Keeping up with fall home maintenance gives homeowners peace of mind knowing that their home is far less likely to encounter common problems that arise during the colder months.
Fall Home Maintenance Checklist
1. Inspect and Clean Gutters and Downspouts
Over the course of the summer, debris like leaves, twigs, and dirt can accumulate in your gutters leading to clogs. Clogged gutters can cause water to overflow and damage your roof and siding.
To prevent this from getting out of hand, grab a ladder, some gloves, a scoop, and get to work. Remove all debris from the gutters and ensure that downspouts are clear and pointing away from the house.
2. Check and Seal Windows and Doors
One of the most important fall maintenance tips for your home is to check the seals around windows and doors. Door seals tend to lose their elasticity over time, which can affect your home temperature.
Carefully inspect for any cracks or gaps that could let cold air in and warm air out. You can test your door seals with a piece of paper. Place the paper in the door frame and close the door. The piece of paper should not slide out easily if the seals are in good shape.
Seal these gaps with caulk or weatherstripping to improve energy efficiency and keep your home cozy during the cooler months. Proper sealing can help reduce heating costs and has a positive impact on the environment.
3. Service Your Heating System
Before the temperatures drop significantly, it's essential to have your heating system serviced. Hire a professional HVAC technician to clean and inspect your furnace or heat pump. This will ensure it's running efficiently and safely throughout the fall and winter. Don't forget to replace your furnace filters regularly to maintain good indoor air quality.
4. Clean and Store Outdoor Furniture
As the days get shorter and the nights cooler, it's time to clean and store your outdoor furniture. Harsh winter weather can wreak havoc on furniture, so it's best to stow it away in a shed or garage. If storage isn't an option, invest in high-quality furniture covers to protect your outdoor pieces from the elements. Don’t forget to cover or protect your outdoor grill from the summer.
5. Inspect and Clean the Fireplace
If you have a fireplace, it's a good idea to inspect and clean it before lighting the first fall fire. Hire a professional chimney sweep to remove built-up creosote, which can pose a fire hazard. Check the damper and ensure it's functioning correctly to prevent drafts when the fireplace isn't in use.
6. Trim Trees and Shrubs
Before winter storms arrive, trim any overhanging branches or limbs that could potentially fall and damage your home during strong winds or heavy snow. Pruning also promotes healthier growth in the spring.
7. Drain and Store Garden Hoses
Leaving garden hoses outside during freezing temperatures can lead to cracking and damage. Drain hoses thoroughly, coil them up, and store them in a protected area like a shed or garage. This simple step can prolong the life of your hoses and save you from costly replacements.
8. Check the Roof
Time to look up. Inspect your roof for damaged or missing shingles, as well as panel seams and the fasteners. Fasteners have rubber seals on the head of the screw and will dry up and crack over time, which can cause a leak. These screws have a lifespan of 15-20 years, so do not forget about them. If you spot any issues, it's best to address them now to prevent leaks during heavy rain or snow. A well-maintained roof is essential for keeping your home dry and comfortable.
9. Clean and Insulate the Attic
A well-insulated attic can significantly improve energy efficiency in your home. Check for any gaps or openings in the attic and seal them to prevent heat loss. Inspect the seal on the attic access to ensure warm air does not go into the attic, whether it be a door, ladder, or a panel. Also, clean out any debris and ensure your attic insulation is in good condition.
10. Test Smoke Alarms and Carbon Monoxide Detectors
Safety should always be a top priority. Test your smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors to ensure they are working correctly. Replace the batteries, if needed, and have spare batteries on hand for easy future replacements. If you have trouble replacing batteries, consider 9 volt smart batteries, which can connect to Wi-Fi and will send notifications of low battery or your smoke alarm going off.
11. Inspect and Clean the Siding
Your home's siding is its first line of defense against the elements. Check for any signs of damage, such as cracks or loose siding panels. Clean the siding using a power washer or a soft brush and mild detergent to remove dirt and grime.
12. Clean and Vacuum HVAC Vents
Dust and debris can accumulate in your HVAC vents over time, reducing airflow and indoor air quality. Remove vent covers and vacuum inside the ducts to keep your system running efficiently and maintain a healthier living environment. Be sure to replace dirty air filters while you’re at it.
13. Inspect and Clean the Garage
The garage often becomes a catch-all for clutter. Take some time to declutter, organize, and clean your garage. Conducting garage door seals inspections will keep drafts out and maintain your temperature. Ensure all winter tools and equipment, such as snow shovels and ice melt, are easily accessible.
14. Check Outdoor Lighting
As the days get shorter, outdoor lighting becomes more important both for safety and security. Inspect and replace any burnt-out bulbs in outdoor fixtures. Consider installing motion-sensor lights for added security, or purchasing bulbs with built-in photocell which turn on at night and turn off in the morning.
15. Schedule a Pest Inspection
Pests like rodents often seek shelter indoors during the colder months. Schedule a pest inspection to identify and address any potential entry points. Proper pest control can prevent infestations and damage to your home.
16. Prepare for Storms
Fall is known for unpredictable weather. Be prepared for storms by checking that your emergency supplies are up to date. This includes flashlights, batteries, candles, and a battery-powered radio.
17. Inspect and Clean the Driveway and Walkways
Inspect your driveway and walkways for cracks and damage. Repair any cracks to prevent water from seeping in and causing further damage during freezing and thawing cycles. Also, clean any moss or algae growth to prevent slippery surfaces.
18. Check Your Insulation
Proper insulation is important for maintaining a comfortable and energy-efficient home. Check your home's insulation, especially in the attic and walls. If you find any gaps or insufficient insulation, consider adding more to keep your home warm during the cooler months.
19. Review Your Home Insurance
Last but not least, review your home insurance policy to ensure it adequately covers your property and belongings. Update your policy, if necessary, to account for any changes or improvements you've made to your home.
By following this comprehensive fall home maintenance checklist, you can ensure that your home remains in top-notch condition and is ready to withstand the challenges associated with inclement weather. Investing time and effort into fall maintenance now can save you from costly repairs later. It’s time to roll up your sleeves and get started on these essential tasks to prep your home for fall!
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