Getting your house ready for winter is no easy task. There are a lot of chores you need to do regularly to keep your home in good shape. But fall is a time when home maintenance is very important. The best time to get this done is before the winter sets in, especially if you have snow and ice. So, here is a fall home maintenance checklist to help you get things done!
I know the thought of a huge to do list can be overwhelming, but so can the huge repair bill you could get from not maintaining your home to begin with! With a little preventative maintenance, you won’t have to worry about that.
Assess visible damage on your home’s exterior
It’s a good idea to walk around your home and look for any visible damage that will need to be taken care of including, but not limited to these…
- Loose siding – Here is a video showing you how to fix it.
- Lifting or missing shingles -Loose shingles can cause water to get underneath them and cause damage to your roof. Look for visible signs of roof damage. Learn how to repair your roof shingles here
- Broken or cracked windows – Cracks in windows can let in water and cause serious water damage if left untreated.
- Check and repair weather stripping – Seal gaps in doors and windows by using caulking or weather stripping because this will help tremendously with your heating bills. Here is a great PDF on how to do this yourself.
- Peeling paint – Loose paint can cause water to seep into the wood, causing even more damage. Scrape, prime and paint peeling areas.
- Broken steps – You don’t want any slip and falls.
- Cracks in the foundation – Cracks can cause water to seep into your foundation and then freeze and crack it more. So, fill these cracks with concrete foundation crack repair.
- Holes where critters get in – Mice and other small critters can fit into the tiniest spaces. Look around your whole perimeter and fill or patch any holes. Check under siding edge, roof eaves, around windows and doors, corner moldings, gutter downspouts, around electrical , plumbing, and cable lines, and cut back trees touching the house.
- Cracks in driveway or walkways – fill cracks with filler and sealer
- Lifting deck boards or broken railings – Fix these to prevent accidents.
- Sprinkler System, garden hoses and exterior faucets – Turn on the water and look for leaks which could indicate a leak in the sprinkler heads, pipes, hoses or the connection to the house.
- Cracks in the chimney – Cracks in your chimney lining can cause dangerous fires while using your fireplace or wood stove. Hire a professional chimney sweep to inspect and clean your chimney before you use it this winter.
Cleaning and maintaining items outside of your home
- Power wash siding and windows. Make sure to clean the sills as well as screens.
- Remove window A/C units or cover -You can purchase A/C covers if you can’t remove them from the window or wall.
- Add or replace door sweeps– This will keep drafts from coming in from under the door, saving you heating $$.
- Gutter cleaning and downspouts. Remove any debris then hose it down to make sure there are no clogs. Check to make sure water is flowing freely thru the downspout and redirect the flow away from the house, driveway, and walkways to prevent ice build up. Check to make sure water is not running behind the gutter system and repair where needed. Some types of gutters may be more difficult to clean than others and may be more prone to catching debris. Here’s an article on preventing ice dams on your roof.
- Chimney inspection and cleaning – You’ll need to make sure there is no creosote build-up or animal nests inside the chimney. Also check your damper for good air flow. Here is a great article on fireplace safety.
- Remove window screens – Clean screens and dry thoroughly, then store in a clean dry space.
- Install storm windows and doors
- Close up pool and store toys, tools, and outdoor furniture – Make sure everything is dry before storing to prevent mold buildup.
- Drain your exterior hoses and store inside where they won’t freeze.
- Drain your sprinkler systems – Here is a video to show you how.
- Shut off water to your outdoor faucets – Make sure you know where your water shut of valves are in case of emergency.
- Insulate any water pipes that will be exposed to cold weather.
- Get your winter tools ready – Shovels, salt, sand, plow, snow blower, and generator. Run to test your winter equipment to make sure you don’t need any maintenance before you need them.
- Close up your swimming pool –
Lawn and garden maintenance
- Mow, rake, aerate, and fertilize the lawn. Take care of the lawn by giving it one last mowing and raking before the cold weather hits. You will want to remove all of the leaves. Have your lawn aerated and over-seeded in the fall to give it a healthy head start for spring. More info about over seeding your lawn.
- Trim and secure shrubs and trees – Prune and/or remove any dead branches from trees and large shrubs. Cover delicate shrubs with a triangle type cover to prevent snow and ice from crushing them. You can also contact a professional to insure your getting proper tree care.
- Clean out your garden beds – Here is a great article on what to clean and what to leave alone. 5 Tips to simplify fall garden clean up
- Clean and store garden tools – Start with cleaning off any dirt and debris. Remove stubborn grime with steel wool and alcohol. File any broken pieces and sharpen with a honing tool. Sand and coat any wooden handles with linseed oil to prevent cracking. And finally rub WD-40 or vegetable oil to keep them looking like new.
- Drain gas from your gas powered equipment– Lawn mower, leaf blower, chain saw, etc. It’s not good for your tools to let the gas sit in them over the winter.
- Have your furnace inspected and cleaned to make sure your heating system is ready to go when you need it. Replace filters.
- Get your hvac systems inspected and cleaned. Check your air filter and replace if necessary. Have your air ducts cleaned to improve indoor air quality. Now is a perfect time to call your hvac expert to schedule a cleaning. They are less busy in the fall then waiting until spring or summer to book an appointment
- Check your water heater for damage or leaks. Lowe’s has a good article on how to maintain your water heater.
- Check your attic for critters. Look for sunlight coming in and seal up these areas to prevent them from coming in during the cold weather. However, do not block your roof vents. Instead add screens to keep unwanted pests out.
- Clean and organize the garage. – If your like me your going to need to make room for the car. 😉
- Replace the batteries in your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors. This should be done twice a year. Spring and fall.
- Check or replace fire extinguisher – Check the expiration date and replace if needed.
- Have your Radon levels checked -Radon is an odorless gas that seeps into your home from the ground. Purchase a kit here Radon test kit
- Vacuum behind the refrigerator and clean the inside. Throw away outdated food in the fridge and freezer and wash the shelves, drawers and interior walls with soap and hot water.
- Clean filters on your oven or microwave vent – Look up underneath your built-in microwave and remove and clean vent in hot soapy water. Let dry and reinstall.
- Clean your oven – This isn’t necessarily a fall maintenance thing, but never-the-less it’s a good time to do it with the holidays coming.
- Clean dryer vents – Prevent a dryer fire by inspecting your hoses for lint buildup and clean with a dryer brush.
- Wash the inside of your windows – Using newspapers helps prevent streaking. Don’t wash windows in the sun either.
- Have your carpets cleaned
Using this fall checklist before winter months sets in could save you money on your heating bill, prevent a leak, and possibly save you from a lawsuit from a slip and fall accident.
I know this list seems daunting, but a lot of these items you can get done in just a few hours. Break it up and try to do a few of the items each weekend. Before you know it you’ll have the whole list done. Your house and wallet will thank you!