Winter weather can be harsh and you want your home to be protected from the outside in. Completing seasonal home maintenance checks is a really good habit to get into, particularly in the Fall. If you are proactive and discover potential problem areas now, you could save yourself any number of homeowner disasters during the cold Winter months. We've put together a checklist of fall home maintenance items that you can get through in a couple of weekends.
✔ Exterior Wear or Damage. Conduct a walk-around of the exterior of your home to locate any damage or areas for repair. Replace damaged or missing siding and add a fresh layer of paint anywhere that is cracked and peeling. If these items are left uncorrected for too long the outer layers of your home will begin to deteriorate and could cause more costly repairs in the future. Make sure the "jacket" for your home is buttoned up and ready for Winter.
✔ Roof and Chimney. The roof is the first defense for protecting your home. Precipitation, wind, and rapidly changing or extreme temperatures all wreak havoc on a home's roof. Replace shingles that are curling, buckling or crackling. Check the flashing around chimneys and skylights for signs of wear. Make sure you identify any trouble spots and make repairs before bad weather strikes.
✔ Furnace and Fireplaces. Replace the furnace filter and have your heating system checked by a licensed professional. Heating systems are more efficient and will last longer with fewer problems if properly serviced. Your fireplace or wood stove should be cleaned and all seals checked. Now is also the time to get your chimney inspected and professionally cleaned to prevent chimney fires or carbon monoxide poisoning. Check smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors for proper functioning.
✔ Water Heater and Pipes. Inspect and service your water heater or hire a professional to conduct routine maintenance. Exterior water pipes are at risk of freezing and bursting during below freezing conditions. Turn off the valves to exterior hose bibs and run the water until pipes are well-drained. Remove any garden hoses from the bibs and drain completely before storing for the winter. Follow the manufacturer procedures for draining and winterizing an in-ground irrigation system.
✔ Seal Windows and Doors. The simplest way to prevent heat from escaping your home is to have openings tightly sealed. Proper caulking is one of the least expensive and most effective home maintenance tasks. Changes in temperature and humidity and normal wear and tear cause seals to crack and shrink. Caulk cracks and install weather stripping where needed, including the garage door. Openings in the structure of your home can allow water to get in and freeze, which could result in mold and promote further damage.
✔ Gutters and Downspouts. Clogged gutters are a major cause of ice dams, which can cause meltwater to backup and seep into your home. Ice is also heavy for gutters and too much can quickly cause damage. Be sure to remove all leaves and debris from your gutters, then inspect the joints and tighten brackets as needed. Finally, flush the gutters and downspouts with water to make sure you're clear to weather the next storm.
✔ Attics and Crawlspaces. Pests will look for a warm place to live during cold weather, namely your attic or crawlspace. Check the screens in gables or crawlspace vents for tears or holes. Repair any damage, including missing or loose insulation.
✔ Prepare Decks and Porches. After a long summer full of backyard barbecues, it is time to scrub off your outdoor living spaces. Look for any areas in need of repair. Clean and properly store your deck furniture. Make sure soil is emptied from all pots and planters so that they won't freeze and break.
✔ Stow Yard and Garden Equipment. Drain fuel from all gas-operated equipment - such as mowers and leaf blowers - or add fuel stabilizer. Clean and store all handheld tools for easy access come Spring. Organize and check that any snow equipment is ready for use before the first flurry falls. Have snow shovels, roof rakes, and ice melting salt where you can get to it when the time comes.
Spending a weekend buttoning up your home will keep you and your family comfortable all Winter long.