Your home needs regular maintenance to keep it safe and in good condition and seasonal home maintenance is important, especially for colder weather. Just by doing these easy little things can potential issues. Here are our 10 fall home maintenance tips.
1. Weatherproof Your Doors
Its important to examine the weather stripping and gaps in your doors in order to find any leaks or a draft. Weatherproofing helps prevent water from getting into your home, and also eliminates drafts which can reduce the effectiveness of your heating systems, and raise your utility bills.
Weatherproofing also can help prevent damage to the floor below your exterior doors. If moisture and dampness get inside, it can eat away at the floor material, and cause issues like mold.
How to weatherproof your doors: First, inspect the door. If you can see light coming through, chances are its drafty – and needs to be weatherproofed. Then, you can use caulk to fill up minor gaps, or use backer rod to fill in larger gaps. You also may want to replace damaged weather stripping on the interior or exterior of the door.
It’s best to examine your weatherproofed doors every year. If you notice any gaps or drafts, you may need to weatherproof your doors again.
2. Clean Your Gutters
Clogged gutters can damage your roof and cause leaks, cause ice damming in the winter, or even lead to foundation issues.
How to clean your gutters: So grab a ladder, a plastic bag or a bucket, and get up to the roof! Make sure to stay safe on the ladder, and place it safely and securely. You may be able to walk on your roof if it’s not steeply pitched, but it’s usually better to stay on the ladder. Grab all the debris from your gutters and dump it in your bucket or bag, and flush the gutter by using a hose. Repeat until all your gutters are clean. Once you get used to it, it should only take you an hour or so.
It’s recommended to clean your gutters twice a year – once in the spring, and once in the fall. If you live in an area without a lot of trees, you might be able to do it just once a year. But if you live in a heavily forested area you may want to clean your gutters every 3 months to ensure they don’t get clogged.
3. Furnace Maintenance
It’s best to service your furnace once a year before you need to turn it on for the winter. This ensures that it’s operating properly , and that there are no issues that have gone unnoticed, like carbon monoxide leaks due to a cracked heat exchanger.
How to maintain your furnace:
- Inspect the flue – The flue is the pipe that sends exhaust outside of your home. You can inspect it and check for leaks, sealing any small leaks with foil tape. Large leaks and corrosion may require you to replace the flue.
- Clean floor vents – You should clean your floor registers with a vacuum every year, to make sure that they are not blocked, and that debris does not fall into the furnace.
- Change the air filter – Your air filter is easy to access, and should be changed about every 3-6 months. If you have pets or live in a dusty climate, you may want to replace it even more regularly than this.
- Clean the combustion chamber – Using a wire brush and a shop vacuum, you can remove carbon buildup from the combustion chamber, which prevents corrosion and allows for a longer furnace life, and better energy efficiency.
These are easy enough for just about anyone to do, and performing these steps on your own can save you some money.
4. Flush Your Hot Water Heater
Flushing your water heater can help remove sediment from the tank, and prolong its lifespan, and fall is a good time to do this.
How to flush your hot water heater: Use the directions on your manual. If you’re not handy and don’t like working with tools, you may want to hire a professional to do this. It’s not expensive, and the cost of a maintenance call is small, compared to the benefits of a longer water heater lifespan. If you want to try it yourself, this guide to water heaters is a good place to start. You’ll save a little money, and learn more about how your water heater works!
5. Winterize A/C System
It’s a good idea to winterize your A/C system before it gets too cold outside because it can be damaged by the ice, snow, debris, and other weather-related conditions.
How to winterize your A/C:
- Remove any grass, leaves, twigs, and other debris from the unit. Then rinse it off with a hose.
- After it’s dry, shut off the power at the electrical circuit, to keep it from switching on if a day is unexpectedly warm. Then install rubber pipe insulation around the pipes to protect against freezing.
- Finally, cover your unit with an A/C cover, to keep ice, snow, and other debris from building up on it.
6. Clean & Inspect Chimney and Fireplace
Your chimney and fireplace should be cleaned and inspected yearly to make sure they’re safe to use.
How to clean your fireplace: Lay a plastic tarp down, wear gloves, remove everything in the fireplace. Sweep interior top to bottom and empty ashes into a pan, throw away. Sweep each screen with a fireplace brush. Tip: Sprinkle coffee grounds on the ashes to minimize airborne ashes. To clean brick exterior: spray with water and use a scrub brush, then dry with a soft cloth. Unless your brick fireplace is 50+ years old, you can use hearth cleaner. For iron: spray with hearth cleaner, rinse with water, dry with paper towels. For marble and stone: spray with water, clean with dishwashing liquid using a cloth, rinse and dry.
Generally, a professional is required to inspect a chimney, as they will be able to recognize any issues with your fireplace, and be able to give it a deep clean which will prevent dangerous chimney fires. A regular inspection every year helps keep it clear, and ensures it’s not leaking.
7. Test Your Sump Pump
Your sump pump keeps water out of your basement, and away from your foundation. If it fails during the winter, and water builds up underneath your home, it can freeze and crack, which may cause permanent damage to your foundation.
How to test your sump pump: Find the outside pipe that catches the water as it drains from the pump. Check inside the pipe for any clogs, dirt or debris, and remove if found. Find your sump pump which should be in your basement or mechanical room. Follow the two electrical cords from the sump pump to the electrical outlet. Unplug them from the outlet, pull the plugs apart, and plug the pump cord only back into the outlet (the pump cord plugs into the back of the float cord plug). Now you should hear the pump running. Unplug the pump, plug the cords back in the outlet with the float first, and the pump cord plugged into the back of the float pump. Remove the sump crock lid. Using a bucket, pour some water slowly into the crock. Watch the sump pump switch. It should turn on and begin to pump water from the crock. Wait until the water pumps from the crock to ensure the pump turns itself off, then slowly pour the remaining water in the crock to ensure the pump turns on again.
You should test your sump pump regularly throughout the fall and winter, whenever there is a heavy downpour.
8. Shut Off Exterior Faucets
If you don’t shut off the water supply to your exterior faucets from inside your house, the pipes leading to it may crack and freeze, which can cause leaks, and cost a lot of money to replace.
If you have a “frost-free” faucet, you may not need to do this. A good rule of thumb is that, if a faucet knob is perpendicular to the house, it’s frost-free, and uses what’s called a “frost-free sillcock” to prevent freezing – but make sure you double-check.
How to shut off exterior faucets: If your sillcock is not frost-free, there should be a shut-off valve for the exterior faucet, somewhere on the pipe that leads to it. Locate this, and shut it off. Then, open up the outside faucet, and then open the adjacent bleeder valve to let any remaining water drain out.
10. Check Your Windows
You should check your windows for damage and loose frames, to make sure they’re in good shape before the winter. In addition, you may want to install additional weather stripping or caulking around them, to prevent drafts and keep your power bills low.
How to check your windows for damage: Look to see if glass is shattered or broken See if glazing is cracked. Check for torn or ripped screens. See if frame is cracked, dented, or loose.
If you’re serious about energy conservation, you could also invest in a pair of energy-efficient cell blinds, as well as heavy blackout curtains. Combined, these window treatments can help insulate your windows, keeping you comfortable and reducing your power bill.
9. Check for cracks in pavement
The corrosive properties of road salt, as well as the thermal expansion of pavement during freezing and refreezing, can turn small pavement cracks into serious damage, and carve out chunks from your driveway the next spring, after the winter has passed.
How to check your pavement: Look at your sidewalk and driveway and see if you find any cracks or distress.
This is why you should check for cracks in your pavement in the fall. You may want to consider re-sealing your driveway if you have a lot of cracks. If you just have a few cracks, you can use asphalt driveway repair caulk to plug them up, and keep them protected during the fall and winter.
A little bit of preventative maintenance goes a long way, and can keep your driveway intact and in great shape.
Get Ready For The Cold Weather!
Regular home maintenance is key for simplifying home ownership, and avoiding major repairs and unexpected costs. So follow these tips, and keep your home safe this fall and winter.