With Labor Day behind us, summer is officially over. If that realization is tough to accept, try shifting your attention to the months ahead. Fall is a lovely time of year that offers an over abundance of mild, pleasant weather. It’s also the perfect time to get your property ready for winter. So, put away the pool toys and beach chairs and consider tackling this fall home maintenance checklist:
Summer showers are great for weed propagation, so if your flower beds or lawn have unwanted “volunteers” get busy. After the weeding is taken care of, go ahead and cover beds and natural areas with two inches of mulch or straw. This will help the roots of your plantings retain vital moisture during the dormant months.
Turn off any irrigation systems or fountains and insulate outdoor faucets. If you have an outside pump house, check the insulation so it will not be frozen, just when you need it the most.
Check cement or stone walkways, steps, driveways and patios for any chinks or cracks. They should be repaired before freezing temperatures trap in moisture that may cause them to expand, crack even more and cause bigger headaches. The same is true for wooden decks. Check the integrity of the stain, paint and sealant coat before the first snowflake falls.
The Structural Components
In much of the country, excessive summertime showers can result in mold, mildew and possibly the beginnings of rot. Make a thorough inspection from the roof to the basement, inside and out, to check for leaks and any other issues, which could threaten the integrity of your home’s structure. Repair or replace any damaged or compromised components.
On the roof, in the attic and under crawl spaces, check for loose shingles, missing insulation, warped flashing, and any signs of damage. Best to catch it now before that first big snowfall hits!
Examine windows and doors to check that they are all in first-rate working order. It may sound old-fashioned, but the tried and true method of testing window and door seals by holding a lit candle inside the home near those seams really works! If it flickers quite a bit, that means when winter rolls around, cold air from the outside will have an easy way in!
Over time, building materials expand and contract with changes in temperature and moisture, causing caulk and weather stripping to pull away from the areas they were applied to. Caulk that has passed its prime also tends to harden and become brittle. Replacing the caulking and weather stripping around windows and doors in the fall will make a huge difference in how well they function come January.
If caulking and weather stripping are just not enough, it may be a good idea to invest in new, energy efficient doors and windows. Can’t afford to replace all at once? Don’t stress! This is something that can be done here and there over time. Just remember that these types of upgrades pay off big in the long run by reducing the cost heating and cooling.
Finally, inspect the gutters to ensure that debris left behind such as fallen leaves, pine straw, pine cones, small sticks, and acorns have not clogged up the system. If your gutters are unable to control the flow of rainwater, water will collect along your home’s roofline and foundation and possibly lead to mold, mildew and rot. Ideally, routine gutter cleaning should be done at least twice a year – in the fall and again in the spring.
Heating System Check
Whether your home is heated with a traditional HVAC system, fireplace, furnace, radiator, wood stove, or any other combination, have everything thoroughly cleaned and checked out. That may mean calling in a pro, like a chimney sweep, heating and air contractor or HVAC inspector. Not only will this effort give you peace of mind, it will also save you money when plummeting temps require you to run your system 24/7. Be sure also to keep a schedule for when filters should be replaced.
Evaluate smoke and carbon monoxide alarms. Make sure they work and replace the ones that don’t. Discuss emergency plans in case of fire or any other type of emergency. Go over escape routes and practice. Get rid of fire hazards, especially in areas such as the attic and garage.
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