It’s that time of the year again when the air will turn noticeably crisper, the days shorter and the nights longer. Fiery yellow, orange and red leaves will soon dominate the landscape (as well as football) and little minions will be lining up on your doorstep extorting you for sweets. So before you get caught up in that fall storm called Thanksgiving dinner preparation, get a jump on your fall home maintenance in the next coming weeks.
This is a great time to do house maintenance as the temperatures are cooler (but not too cold as it is in winter); making it an ideal time to do outdoor chores without the summer sun beating down on you.
We know you’re busy so we compiled a list of tips to prepare your house for these cooler months. Many you can do yourself quickly, but some of the more involved ones are best left to professionals, therefore freeing up your time for the more important stuff – like making your own costume or carving that award-winning pumpkin with the kids.
Check It Out
Check the fireplace. Ensure the fireplace is working. Make sure there are no obstructions in your chimney. Have an inspector check your fireplace and chimney if you suspect any damage.
- Check smoke and CO (carbon monoxide) detectors. See if they are functioning properly. It’s a good idea to change the batteries too.
- Clean or replace air filters. Having clean air filters make your heating and cooling units run efficiently.
- Check windows and doors. Make sure they close properly to prevent drafts and lower heating costs. Replace cracked window panes and repair loose frames.
- Put ceiling fans in reverse. Many ceiling fans have a reverse switch. Changing the spin direction of your ceiling fan will create an upward draft that will redistribute warm air from the ceiling to human level. This article explains how this saves you on energy costs.
Clean rain gutters. Make sure rain gutters are free from debris and downspouts drain properly.
- Perform a roof tune-up. Repair or replace cracked or missing tiles and/or shingles. Make sure all penetrations and laps are sealed properly so that water can’t enter your home. Clear the roof from debris to ensure that water flows away from the building as intended.
- Check windows and doors. Caulk windows if there are separations or gaps. Ensure proper weatherstripping at doors to prevent drafts, and to lower heating costs.
- Repair cracked or peeling paint. Clean and paint over any peeling paint to prevent further damage.
- Seal separations and cracks. Use caulking to seal separations in wood. Hire a stucco expert to fix stucco cracks.
- Cover window air conditioners and outdoor units. Use covers to protect unused cooling units from precipitation. If you have the time, you can remove unused window air conditioners and store them away.
- Check foundation for cracks. Enlist a professional if you see any significant cracks.
- Repair cracks on driveways and hardscape. Repair cracks with driveway filler and seal your driveway.
Stow away your gas-powered tools. Storing your gas-powered tools is relatively simple but it takes some know-how.
- Store your summer garden tools. Cleaning and drying them before storing prolongs their lifetime.
- Rake leaves regularly. Aside from beautifying your home, a yard free of leaves will discourage insects and other pests from nesting in your yard. You can even mulch the leaves and use them for compost.
- Trim your bushes and trees. Keeping a buffer of 3’ from house will prevent damage during strong winds, and help discourage critters from getting on your roof.
- Drain hoses. Water left in hoses can freeze and damage hoses.
- Shut off outdoor water supply. Shut off outdoor water supply and drain pipes. As in hoses, water in pipes can freeze and cause damage.
Decks and Balconies
Cover seasonal outdoor items. Protect furniture, barbecue grills, fire pits and the like by covering them.
- Check exterior supports, stairs and railings. Repair any damaged items to prevent injury and more damage.
- Clean decks and apply sealer. Prepare your deck for the upcoming harsher weather.
Other Helpful Lists
There are other things that you can do but the ones listed above are the essential if your time is limited. We’ve compiled a few links that offer more comprehensive lists.
- Houselogic.com: Fall Maintenance Checklist
- BobVila.com: Fall Home Maintenance Checklist
- DIY Network: Autumn Maintenance Tips
You’re Not Alone
If you are unsure about any of the items on the list, don’t hesitate to call professionals for help. And make sure they’re licensed and bonded. Spending a little on maintenance can possibly save you a lot more in the long run. For example, a few hundred spent on a roof tune-up can help prevent roof leaks and potentially save you thousands of dollars in repair.
With a little planning and budgeting, you can maintain your house this fall. But be sure you do it before you get turned into one of the walking dead amidst that panic we all know as Christmas shopping.