Your Guide to Fall Home Maintenance
Today is the first day of the fall season and if you’re like me, you might be thinking to yourself, “Maybe I should actually start working on fall home maintenance before the first snowfall this year.”
Now that you’ve thought about it, you’ve taken that first crucial step! Next, you’ve got to make that list of all of the things you plan to do … then put that list in the drawer by the phone, with all of the other lists and junk you throw in there when you’re cleaning off your countertops.
In all seriousness, good fall home maintenance will save you in the long run on home repairs and energy costs by helping you catch small problems before they become big ones.
Midwest Insurance Group has put together a list of some tried and true tasks to put on your fall home maintenance list. See the end of this post for a downloadable list to start checking off.
Always check with the manufacturer before performing work and hire a contractor for the work that you’re uncomfortable performing yourself. See the end of this post for a downloadable list
Fall Home Maintenance – Outside of the Home
- Drain your hoses and in-ground sprinkler systems to prevent damage from freezing. If possible, lay hoses out on an incline to help with drainage. If you’ve got an air compressor and an adapter, you can speed this process up.
- To prevent freezing and cracking of outdoor spigots, turn off the water supply for the outside and let any water drain out. You can also take the extra step of wrapping the spigot with pipe insulation.
- Check your doors, windows and siding for damage, holes or cracks and shrunken weather stripping or putty. Any place on a home where two different building materials meet (ex: where siding meets the concrete foundation) should be checked to prevent further damage from winter weather.
- Check all vents for debris and clear them.
- Look for worn out painted surfaces and water damage. Treat or repaint as necessary.
- Drain or run the gas out of your lawn equipment and run antifreeze through your pressure washer. If you’ve got a riding lawn mower, disconnect the battery and bring it inside for the winter. The cost of getting your small engine up and running after leaving old gas in the tank over the winter can cost you upwards of $100. While you’re at it, make sure your snow blower still starts up and give it an oil change and any needed maintenance.
- Check your driveway for cracks and make repairs as necessary to keep those cracks from getting larger from ice.
- Hire someone to clean out your chimney and have your wood burning stove pipes inspected
- Clean the leaves and debris out of your gutters and tighten any loose brackets. If you’re uncomfortable with the height you’ll be work at, hire a professional
- Have a professional inspect your roof for damaged shingles and possible leaks.
- If your window screens are in need of repair, now is as good a time as any to make repairs.
- Clean your garage and check the weather strip on the bottom of your garage door. If the weather strip is stiff or cracked, replace it. A tight seal will help to keep the wind and mice out of your garage.
- Rake the leaves.
- Apply a fall fertilizer to your lawn.
- Make spring planting in the easier by cleaning up your landscape in the fall. Now is also a good time to trim back shrubs, bushes and dead tree limbs.
- Wash your windows inside and out.
- Clean and store outdoor furniture.
Fall Home Maintenance – Inside the Home
- Schedule your annual furnace maintenance and duct cleaning and replace your furnace filter.
- Add a piece of foam insulation behind the wall plate of electrical outlets and light switches located on outside walls. This will help prevent cold drafts.
- Take a peak up into your attic. If you see any dark spots on the ceiling, you may have a leak in your roof. Any dark spots in your insulation could be a sign of an air leak into your attic.
- Test your smoke detectors, replace the backup battery and clean the dust off of the covers.
- Check doors and windows for air leaks and seal them up with caulk or insulation.
Fall Home Maintenance – Don’t forget your autos!
But wait, there’s more! Your home isn’t the only thing you should prepare for blustery winter weather. Making sure that your autos are prepared may spare you severe winter headaches or even spare your life! Here is a list of some common maintenance tasks to help minimize winter problems:
Fall Home Maintenance – Automobiles
- Take your car in for a tune-up.
- Every two years, your cooling system should be flushed and new antifreeze added. If you can’t remember when you last had this done, now is a good time.
- Have your battery and charging system tested.
- Make sure your heater and blower motor are working properly.
- Inspect and replace your windshield wipers. Consider ‘ice free’ wipers.
- Start purchasing windshield washer fluid rated for freezing temperatures.
- Check with your auto manufacturer for recommendations on winter oil weights.
- Have your brakes inspected or serviced.
- Check your tire tread depth. A good rule of thumb if you’ll be driving on snow covered roads this winter is to replacement your tires at 5/32” tread depth left. At that level or less, you’re taking a big risk!
- Along with your standard items like jumper cables, put together an emergency kit for the trunk of your car including a shovel, road flares or signs, a flashlight, windshield scraper, hat & gloves and even a bag of sand for traction if you get stuck. Disposable heat packs are another great item along with some food, bottled water and blankets in case you find yourself stranded in a winter storm.
Now you have few things to work on over the next couple of months to reduce the chances of winter damage to your home to help to ensure safer driving through the snow. Remember: Always consult the manufacturer and if you’re unsure, a little money spent on your local contractor now may save you a lot this winter and spring.
Download the printable Fall Home Maintenance Checklist here.