f you do not live in a warm, tropical climate, the fall months are the best time to get your home ready for freezing temperatures, snowstorms, and icy conditions that lie ahead in the wintertime. Without the proper care and adherence to a maintenance routine, your living space and appliances are prone to damage that can lead to considerable costs for repair and high energy bills.
Protect your home and property by reserving some autumn weekends to check the interior and exterior space for proper drainage, protection from winds, and insulation from the cold. You also want to ascertain that all your heating appliances are in tip-top shape. Here is a checklist to help you get through your maintenance schedule in time for the onset of old man winter.
- INSULATE PIPES. Pipes that run along unheated areas can freeze and burst when temperatures drop to 32F and below. Protect them with foam or blown-in insulation you can purchase at a hardware store.
- CLEAN OUT GUTTERS. Avoid clogs that can damage your shingles or roof. Use a strong ladder or get a handyman to help. Use work gloves to scoop out leaves and other debris that can block proper drainage. You can also purchase gutters with leaf guards to keep maintenance minimal.
- DRAIN SPRINKLERS, UNHOOK HOSING, AND TURN OFF EXTERIOR FAUCETS. Like pipes, these can expand and crack when frozen. Remove any residual water or get help from a contractor who can blow out the water with compressed air.
- INSTALL INSULATION. Block drafts by stripping around windows and door frames. Silicone caulk is best for exterior use because it is impervious to the elements. For baseboards, use paintable caulking.
- GET YOUR FURNACE CHECKED. Hire an HVAC Contractor to inspect all parts and replace the filter with one that will easily trap particles. Ensure it is operating efficiently and that there is no carbon monoxide leakage.
- FIREPLACE CLEANING AND INSPECTION. Gas fireplaces should be inspected every three years. However, wood-burning fireplaces require annual cleaning by a certified Chimney Sweep to prevent the ignition of soot build-up.
- TEST YOUR SUMP PUMP. Slowly pour several gallons of water to check that it will turn one, especially during a previous dry season or before rainfall.
- INSPECT YOUR ROOF. Check for damaged, loose, or missing shingles that could cause a leak from melting snow and storms. Hire a handyman for small repairs or a roofer for larger sections.
- PREPARE FOR SNOW AND POWER OUTAGES. Be ready for an emergency and proper snow clearance. Restock rock salt and check that your snow removal tools are operational and in good condition. Have a generator handy in case you need a backup of power.
- MAINTAIN OUTDOOR PLANTS AND TREES. Trim dead branches that could fall and cause major damage. Add mulch to insulate plant roots from low temperatures. Cut back perennials to eliminate harmful insects that may hibernate and resurface to impede spring growth.
Fall is fun for pumpkin carving, farm festivals, and comfortable, cool-weather hikes. Set some time to enjoy activities and appreciate nature. However, don’t put off the tasks needed to prepare and protect your greatest asset, your home. The fall months fly by, and before you know it, you are faced with the unforgiving harshness of mother nature. Be ready and armed with that first snowflake, a gust of wind, and a dangling icicle until you can let your guard down again in the spring.