Your fall maintenance checklist
When you start feeling that nip in the air, that’s a sign it’s time to take care of fall maintenance at home.
By prepping for cooler weather, you are helping to avoid some costly damage and potentially dangerous situations. As a bonus, you can also save money on heating. Here are 12 useful tips:
1) Clean gutters Gutters control the flow of rainwater and protect your home’s roof, walls, foundation, and landscape. Gutters that are clogged with leaves and other debris can cause some serious damage and are more prone to rust and corrosion. If they’re full, it could lead to sagging gutters, mold, wet basements and provide a home for rodents. If you’re not comfortable getting on a ladder to clean them out, you can hire the job out. You may want to consider having mesh gutter guards installed which helps to prevent debris from getting into the gutters.
2) Seal air leaks Did you know that windows and doors can be responsible for up to 25 per cent of total home heat loss? Simply using caulk and weatherstripping will draft-proof your home. Weatherstripping can deteriorate so it’s a good idea to inspect it. Close a door or window on a strip of paper. If the paper slides easily, your weatherstripping isn't properly sealing the opening. Check for missing or damaged caulk around windows, doors, and entry points for electrical, cable, phone, and gas. Seal any gaps with the appropriate caulk.
3) Inspect roof Use binoculars to check ridge shingles for cracks and wind damage. Look for damage to metal flashing in valleys and around vents and chimneys. Scan the roof for missing, curled, or damaged shingles. If you see large accumulations of granules when cleaning your gutters, that’s a sign the roof is losing its coating. Consult professionals if necessary.
4) Protect outside faucets First, close any shut off valves for outside faucets. Then turn on the outside faucets to drain the line. If there are no shut off valves and your faucets aren’t freeze proof, home improvement stores sell outdoor faucet covers or socks to protect them from freezing temperatures. If you have an in-ground irrigation system, follow the manufacturer’s instructions on how to drain and protect it for winter.
RELATED READING: Will insurance cover frozen pipes?
5) Change/clean furnace filter A furnace filter prevents dust from being distributed throughout your home. Filters that are clogged make it harder to keep your home at a comfortable temperature and can increase utility bills. Monthly cleaning can prevent this from happening. Disposable filters can be vacuumed once before replacement. Foam filters can also be vacuumed, but they don't need to be replaced unless damaged. Use a soft brush on a vacuum cleaner. If the filter is metal or electrostatic, remove and wash it.
6) Get a furnace checkup Have your heating system inspected by a professional. Book early to avoid the heating-season rush. Some signs your furnace needs attention could be noisy belts or that your furnace didn’t work as well as it once did.
RELATED READING: How to save money on your home heating bill this winter
7) Inspect your fireplace Check your flue for creosote, a flammable by-product of burning wood. If too much accumulates in the flue or chimney it can result in a fire. Ensure there are no blockages and the flue cap (the screen covering the top of the chimney) is in place. Check the damper, which is the metal plate that opens and closes the flue just above the firebox. Move it to the open and closed positions to ensure it is working properly. For most, it’s best to have your entire chimney system inspected by a chimney sweep annually.
8) Repair walkways Damaged walkways, drives, and steps are a hazard and the dangers are compounded when the weather turns icy. Fixing issues in the fall helps prevent expensive repairs. Look for cracks more than 1/8-inch wide, uneven sections, and loose railings on steps. Check for disintegration of asphalt or washed-out materials on loose-fill paths.
9) Check smoke/carbon monoxide detectors Replace the batteries in each smoke and carbon monoxide (CO) detector. Test the detectors by pressing the test button. If you haven't already, install a smoke detector on every floor of your home, including the basement.
10) Touch up exterior paints There are still days that are warm enough to paint and help prolong the life of your siding and trim. A fresh coat of paint or sealer on any surface that potentially will be covered with snow, such as porch stairs or wood floors, is a good idea.
11) Put your yard/garden to bed Raking leaves prevents your lawn and garden beds from suffocating. Fertilizing and winterizing grass, trees, and shrubs will ensure they are properly nourished.
12) Clean/change direction of ceiling fans When colder weather hits, your fan should rotate clockwise to help distribute heat. By creating an updraft, the fan pulls cool air from below up toward the ceiling and pushes the warm air around the room. Set the fan to low speed so it doesn't create a wind-chill effect.