It’s officially September and that means fall is right around the corner. For those of us who live in areas with a lot of trees, it’s a beautiful time of the year. But it’s not all pumpkin pies and football for us dedicated homeowners. Weekends mean there’s work to be done. So, in the spirit of offering a helping hand, here’s a quick fall home maintenance checklist of fall home maintenance tasks you’ll want to be sure to take care of before fall turns that quick, cold corner into winter.
Remove the hoses from your outdoor faucets.
Leaving them attached is asking for a big mess. If water remains in the faucet and in the section of pipe that is just inside the exterior wall, it will eventually freeze. Prevent problems that are caused by freezing water, close the inside valve to each outdoor faucet, make sure no water is left in the faucets outside of the home. When it does freeze, that water will expand and potentially crack the pipes and faucet. To be extra safe, turn off the valves that supply water to any outside faucets you have. That way you won’t have to worry about smaller amounts of water making their way into the pipes. Make sure to shut off water to the main valve, shut off the automatic controller, open drain valves and then remove the water from the system. If you have above ground sprinklers make sure to remove them and shake out the water.
Seal any cracks.
Walk around the outside of your house with a tube of caulk and keep an eye out for any cracks between the trim and siding or where windows and doors meet the walls of the house. This simple task could prevent expensive moisture damage as well as save you a bit of money on heating by keeping your home that much more airtight.
Use a similar process on the inside of the house, though you can leave the caulk in the garage. Feel around for particularly drafty windows and doors. Seal them up with any number of products like rope caulk, shrink film or V seal weather stripping.
Get your fireplace and furnace ready for game day.
If you’re lucky enough to have a functioning fireplace then put cleaning it on your fall home maintenance checklist, because there’s going to come a day when all you want to do is light that baby up and get the family gathered around in front of it. If you’re not sure when it was last cleaned, you’d be smart to schedule one. To make sure that your fireplace is safe, take a look up there with a flashlight to make sure the damper opens and closes properly. Open the damper and check for any debris, such as birds’ nests, branches and leaves.
You’ll also want to make sure your furnace is in good working order. A well maintained furnace uses fuel more efficiently and gives you the peace of mind that it’s not going to break down on a day when your family needs it most. You’ll want to clean and replace filters in your furnace. If you have a gas heater or furnace we’d recommend getting a licensed heating contractor to inspect and service it, you don’t want to deal with carbon monoxide! That stuff is poison :) Your utility company will usually provide this service for free. Otherwise schedule an appointment with a heating and cooling professional, which will cost you about $50-$100. But it’s worth it!
Clean your gutters and downspouts.
Gutters should be cleaned out every season, typically at least twice. Fall is one of the most important times to clean your gutters, however. If you leave debris in them over the winter months, you are practically asking for ice dams to develop. If ice dams develop, you’re looking at a whole host of potentially serious and costly problems.
Check that your downspouts are in good shape, too. You can find your downspouts by the corners of your home. They should extend at least 5 feet away from your house in order to protect the integrity of your home’s foundation. The level of soil should also drop a few vertical inches from the side of the house to where the downspout empties. This gives you peace of mind that the water isn’t dripping down towards the foundation.
Inspect your roof, but be safe!
Your roof is the most important aspect of your home, an unsafe or leaky roof can ruin the whole house. Fall is a good time to get up there and inspect your roof, just be safe! If you aren’t comfortable on the roof, hire someone to take a look, no need to risk the potential injuries. You’ll want to check for general wear and tear. Check for shingles, you may need to replace some. And if there is a ton of damage you should get the roof replaced before the winter months come. Check around your chimney and skylights, you don’t want any gaps where snow can get in.
Look for peeling paint.
This is an important check mark on your fall home maintenance checklist. It’s important to inspect your exterior walls for any peeling or blistering paint. When paint is peeling, chipping or blistering it means it’s not protecting the siding of your home. If your siding is not protected then it will begin to deteriorate, which is a very costly fix. So the best thing you can do is nip that peeling paint in the bud, in order to save your siding and your wallet.
Get on your deck, enjoy the cool breeze one last time!
Your deck may be in need of a good, deep clean. Gather any trash, throw away any unwanted items on your deck and then do a thorough sweeping, get all the dirt and grime of off your deck. Clean off your outdoor furniture and then take in any loose cushions and pillows, you may even want to invest in some furniture covers and completely cover up your furniture, the winter weather that is coming will completely ruin your furniture! After you have taken care of your furniture you’ll want to do a sweep of the deck and make sure there are not any loose boards, protruding nails or wobbly railings. Getting heavy snowfalls will just make these worse and could be a hazard to any people or animals that walk on the deck in the winter.
Save big money, fix your driveway now.
You’ll want to take a look at your driveway and look for any cracks. Replacing driveways are surprisingly very expensive. You’ll want to take care of it by cleaning out and repairing any damage. You can do this by sealing your driveway. Your first step is to clean out and repair any damage with driveway filler, then coat it with a commercial sealer. Sealing your driveway will ensure that your driveway is protected for the winter months and will lengthen its lifespan, saving you a ton of money!
It’s time to tend to your plants!
Remove dead annuals and hardy perennials. Annuals typically die when temperatures drop below freezing. Don’t let your perennials fool you, if they appear to be dead, they probably are not-hopefully. They like to play tricks on us, their roots though are strong enough to survive the winter, so don’t give up on them, give them love and attention. Plant experts say that if you are going to mulch perennials, the best time to do it is after the first hard freeze, but don’t cover the center of the plant because that can lead to rot.
It’s also time to trim your trees. Inspect your trees thoroughly for dead branches. You don’t want them falling off during a winter storm. The best time to prune is when the summer growth cycle is over. The goal is to have limbs and branches at least 3 feet from your house so that way nothing leaks onto your roof.
Don’t forget about your grass.
We can easily forget about our grass this time of year, but getting it prepared for the winter months is a really important check mark on your fall home maintenance checklist. Now is a good time to aerate your lawn to allow moisture and nutrients to soak into the roots. After aerating it’s recommended to spread fertilizer and then grass seed. If you have cool season grass, now is the time to sow it, which will give it the opportunity to germinate and strengthen the roots. If you have turf grass, now is the time to fertilize it as well. Turf grass stores the nutrients for the winter months, so come spring, it’s looking good!
Take care of man’s second best friend: Tools!
It’s important to take care of your tools, cleaning them and stowing them away properly. Especially if they are fuel based. Fuel stabilizer is your best friend! Gas deteriorates over time...like over the winter months when your mower sits dormant. When gas deteriorates it can damage internal engine parts. The fuel stabilizer prevents the gas from deteriorating. Another option is to run your mower until it goes dry, but that’s kind of a waste :) As far as your other tools go, give them a good wipe down and store them in a good tool box.
Don’t throw those leaves away.
You’ll have to blow leaves out of your gutter, which solves your dirty gutter problem :) but what about the leaves on your ground? What should you do with them? Rake them up but don’t throw them away! The obvious answer is to rake them up, they’ll suffocate your grass if you don’t. If they are really wet and matted down they could attract insects and pests, which is no good for you or your lawn. If you have a mulching mower, that would be ideal. Either compost the leaves, use them as mulch or place in flower beds. They have a ton of nutrients and is a great organic matter so we recommend that you don’t throw them away!
Cover or take out those AC units.
It’s easy to forget about your AC units when you are not using them for the winter, but they should be properly protected throughout the winter. So don’t forget about them just yet!
If you have window AC units, then take them out. It’s not a good idea to leave the window open during the winter. If you can not remove them then try and seal it the best you can with a commercial cover. Bigger AC units should be covered as well, this will help protect them, making them work more efficiently in the summer months.
Fall is a really fun time... football, cool weather, fires, grilling...it’s a blast. But it can be a tough time for your home, maintaining your home is crucial, whether you plan on selling or not. By taking care of your home and going through each season’s checklist, you can save yourself a lot of headache and a lot of money. We hope this fall home maintenance checklist was helpful! Let us know if you have any other tips!