15 Fall Home Maintenance Tips
Fall is here. With the fall weather comes shorter days and colder temperatures. Before the very cold weather comes, it is important to start thinking about a fall home maintenance routine.
- Trees and Shrubs
While trees and shrubs add value to the property value, it is important to keep up with them, especially as fall turns to winter. For shrubs, it is a good time to trim off any extra growth and get it into the proper shape.
2. Check for Drafts
Drafts can cause major heating issues, which lead to large heating bills. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, heat loss through windows accounts for 25-30% of heating energy use. By adding weather tripping or covering the windows can be a cost-effective way of cutting down on heating costs. If you have old windows, use special weather plastic and cover the windows. This will keep the cold from coming in and the heat from going out.
3. Storm Windows
As the weather changes and the windows are opened less, it is time to take the screens out of the windows and put in the storm windows. This adds another layer of weatherproofing to your home.
- Carbon Monoxide Detectors
Carbon monoxide is an invisible, odorless gas that is a byproduct of burning oil or natural gas. It can be deadly if left unchecked and if people breathe it is. A carbon monoxide detector costs a few dollars and can save a life. The alarm will sound once the levels get too high. If your house does not already have one and you burn natural gas or oil for heat, it is vital to have a carbon monoxide detector on every level.
- Replace Batteries
At least two times a year, it is important to change the batteries in the smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors. If you plan to do it when it is time to change the clock in the spring and in the fall, then you will always have fresh batteries in case the detectors need to do their job. Of course, if for some reason the batteries in the smoke detector or the carbon monoxide detectors start to sounds the change battery alarm, be sure to change it right away.
- Clean or Replace Gutters and Downspouts
After the leaves have fallen from the trees, clean the gutters and downspouts. If the gutters are clogged, the rain waters can leave a pool of water on the roof and can cause damage to the roof or siding. Clear away anything from the base of the downspout so the water will drain away from the house.
- Winterizing a Sprinkler System
With the cold weather, any water left in the sprinkler system will freeze. This can cause damage to the sprinkler system. It is best to have the system blown out each year. You can pay an irrigation company about $125 a year to blow out the system. You can also do it yourself using an air compressor. No matter how powerful your compressor system is, it can not do the whole sprinkler system at once. Do each section or zone in order to get the water out.
- Check the Roof
Be sure to check the roof for any leaks or rotten places. No one wants to find that there is an issue with the roof during a snowstorm. If there are issues with the roof, get it fixed before the weather changes. Check the shingles. If any of the shingles are curling, cracking or buckling, it is time to replace them. If there is a lot that is damaged, it might be time to replace the while roof.
9. Get Your System Ready
During the summer, your heating and cooling system has been working hard. With the system working hard, it is a good idea to make sure it is working properly and do routine maintenance on it.
- Programmable Thermostat
As the weather changes from warm to crisp, it is a good idea to make sure that the thermostat is programmed to the right settings. A programmable thermostat can help keep your home at the ideal temperatures but will also save money on heating costs because you do not have to remember to change the settings each time you leave the house, come home or the weather changes. Set the temperature a little cooler at night, and have it warm up about 30 minutes before you wake up. Turn the temperature down when no one will home during the day and have it kick back on before you get home. These simple changes keep your home comfortable but will save money at the same time.
- Check the Fireplace
With the cooler temperatures, if you plan on lighting a fire in your fireplace, it is important to make sure that the fireplace is in good working order. Clean the fireplace of ashes. Check the chimney for any loose or missing mortar. Have someone come to professionally clean the fireplace and chimney.
- Check the Exterior
Before winter starts it is a good idea to check the outside of the house. Look for cracks and holes in the exterior of the house. If there are cracks or holes in the siding or paint, patch them. Replace caulk as needed. It doesn’t have to be a difficult task. Use a carpet knife to cut away the old caulking from the siding. Slice along the caulk on each side and use the knife to lift out the old caulk. Use a screwdriver to check the wood trim around the windows, the doors, decks, and railings. Caulk the holes or replace the wood, if needed.
- Check the Attic
Check to make sure the attic has the right insulation installed and that it doesn’t need to be replaced. Make sure that the vapor barrier on the insulation is facing the living space. If the insulation is not installed correctly, the insulation will trap moisture and that can cause water problems. Cut slits in the vapor barrier to let the moisture escape. Use small pieces of the insulation to put into the joists on the attic floor.
- Prepare the Yard
The fall is a good time to get the yard ready for winter. It is a good time to cut back shrubs. Separate perennials and replant them in a new space. Fertilize the plants. After the leaves have fallen, it is important to rake the leaves that have fallen. If the leaves are thick it will keep the grass from being able to grow in the spring.
- Check the Driveways, Sidewalks, and Steps
Before winter has a chance to set in with the cold weather, it is important to check the driveway, walkways, and steps. If there are cracks in the concrete, now is the time to fix it. As the water seeps into the cracks and freezes, it will cause the cracks to become bigger. For cracks that are less than a half-inch wide, squeeze a bit of acrylic latex concrete repair deep into the crack. Then smooth it out with a putty knife. For larger cracks, you will need to trowel a vinyl concrete patching compound. It will need to cure for a day before walking on it and three days before driving on it.