Fall Maintenance Musts
Updated: May 24, 2021
Posted on November 22, 2016 at 1:03 PM
Fall Maintenance Musts
Use these ten easy fall maintenance projects to keep your house in peak condition through the winter.
Check for Peeling Paint
Inspect the exterior to see if any paint is deteriorated, peeling or blistering on the siding (for those who have wood siding), trim, railings and door/window frames. Even if you have fiber cement siding, you can still have wood railings and trim and those are susceptible to wood rot over time if not well protected from the weather with a good coat of paint. Repair any wood rot you see to ensure that the area is weather tight since water can seep thru wood rot and into your house (this is very common at door and window frames).
Clean the Gutters & Dryer Vent
After leaves have fallen, clean out the gutters and downspouts and flush them with water -- this is especially important in the fall to prevent tree debris from building up. Also, be sure to inspect joints and tighten brackets, where needed. Replace old or damaged gutters with new ones that have built-in leaf guards. Importantly, you'll want to clean the clothes dryer exhaust duct and space under the dryer. Remove all lint, dust, and pieces of material to prevent possible fires.
Caulk Windows & Doors
Be sure to caulk around windows and door frames to prevent cooled and heated air from escaping. “Caulking and sealing openings is one of the least expensive maintenance jobs,” says Michael Hydeck, Hydeck Design Build, Inc., Telford, PA, and National President, National Association of the Remodeling Industry (NARI). “Additionally, openings can allow water to get in and freeze and can result in cracks and mold,” he says. For drafty doors, install or replace damaged weather stripping to ensure a weather tight seal.
Inspect the Roof
Make sure the roof is ready for the winter by looking for missing and loose shingles that need to be replaced. You may want to hire a professional roofer to walk the roof to ensure all missing and damaged shingles are identified where its hard to see from the ground. "Rain, wind, snow and ice combined with rapidly changing temperatures and humidity wreak havoc on roofs," says Jay Butch, Director, Contractor programs for CertainTeed Roofing. "Your roof is your first defense in protecting your home. It’s better to proactively deal with repairs in the fall than to discover a leaky roof during a storm."
Ready your HVAC & Fireplace
As soon as the weather starts to cool off, its a good idea to have your HVAC system checked by a licensed HVAC contractor to ensure all is working as it should before the weather gets really cold. HVAC systems will run more efficiently, last longer and have fewer problems if serviced regularly and the air filter is changed frequently, ideally once a month. If you have a portable window air conditioning unit, remove it from the window or place a waterproof cover over it to prevent damage. And be sure to have the chimney cleaned as well so you can enjoy your fireplace for warmth and ambiance throughout the winter.
Reverse Ceiling Fans
Change the direction of your ceiling fan to create an upward draft that redistributes warm air from the ceiling.
Fall is a good time to do some indoor painting. The weather will still be warm enough outside to leave windows open to ventilate during painting. After painting is done, make sure your leftover paint is stored in a heated area of your home, like a garage, to prevent it from freezing.
Test Smoke/CO Detectors
Make sure all smoke and CO detectors and security systems are working properly. Replace batteries if needed.
Check Electrical Outlets
Check electrical outlets for potential fire hazards such as frayed wires or loose-fitting plugs. Be sure not to overload electrical outlets, fuse boxes, extension cords or any other power service.
Insulate Water Pipes
Insulate water pipes in areas exposed to cold temperatures, and turn up the thermostat during extra cold periods.
Light Up the Exterior
With dark days ahead, exterior lighting is very important for finding your way and for safety. Check all your bulbs and consider using timers to turn lights on at dusk and off in the morning.
Prepare Deck for Winter
Clean porch and deck furniture, and look for any needed repairs. Cover and store outdoor furniture and barbecues in a protected area. Make sure all soil is emptied from pots and planters. Dirt left in clay pots can freeze and cause the pots to crack if left outside.
Drain your Sprinkler System
You'll want to be sure to drain the sprinkler system so that water can't freeze during low temps. Your sprinkler service will likely charge $50 to $150 to winterize your system.
Fertilize and Reseed the Lawn
Although grass appears to stop growing in the fall, the roots are actually growing deeper to prepare for winter. You’ll also want to prune your trees and shrubs after the leaves turn to encourage healthy growth in the spring. Be sure to keep flammable materials, including all lawn and power equipment, stored safely away from water heaters and wiring.