It’s that time of year again – summer slowly fades into fall. As the leaves change colour and the weather gets cooler, it’s time to check your house and make sure everything is ship shape. Remember: it’s better to do some maintenance now than have to pay an arm and a leg later if something goes wrong! Don’t get caught unprepared in case early cold weather strikes.
Here are four areas you may want to consider when getting your house ready for fall:
Drafts and Air Leakage
Losing air conditioning and heating from drafts can cost you a fortune. Plus, when you’re trying to escape the winter cold, who wants a draft ruining your cozy home?
Check the sealing and caulking around all windows and door frames; repair or replace as necessary. For particularly drafty windows, consider buying heavier or insulated drapes to keep out the chill.
You can also further reinforce your windows and doors – remove the screens and install any storm windows/doors if needed. Also make sure to check and replace the weather stripping.
Inspect the outside of your house, especially any siding. Check for cracks or holes and repair as needed.
Don’t forget to winterize your air conditioning, if appropriate. If you have an outdoor unit, it may be necessary to cover it before winter. For window air conditioning units, make sure to remove or cover the unit to prevent any air leaks.
Pro Tip: Is your thermostat working for you? Programmable thermostats can save you money; check your settings and program in lower temperatures at night and when you’re not at home so you’re not wasting heat in the winter.
Winter is not the time you want to be dealing with something breaking down. Inspect and perform maintenance on your key appliances now before it’s too late.
Hire professional inspectors to perform checks and tests on your furnace, humidifiers and sump pumps. Have your furnace tested for leaks, heating efficiency and carbon monoxide. While you’re at it, change the filter. For your humidifiers, make sure they are thoroughly cleaned – replace the old filters and clean the plates/pads as well as inside the compartment. Vinegar works well as a safe, non-toxic cleaner.
Replace the batteries in your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors. Remember to test regularly to ensure they’re still working properly.
If you have gas-powered snow blower or emergency generator, now is a good time to get extra gasoline. Make sure to store the gasoline safely in tanks away from fire sources and out of the reach of children and pets.
Before the weather gets too cold, perform a walk around the exterior of your house. Ensure that everything on the outside is ready to protect you from any harsh winter conditions.
A visual inspection of the roof from the ground should typically suffice. Check for any missing, damaged, or loose shingles. You may also have to get up on a ladder and remove any leaves and debris, particularly for roofs that are not slanted.
While you’re out there, check your water drainage. Ensure the downspouts are clear of any obstructions and ensure that any autumn storms won’t send water astray – make sure the water is directed away from foundations, walkways and driveways.
Also, make sure to check your walkways and repair any damaged sidewalks, driveways or steps. Now is a good time to get this done to prevent slips and falls and to also make sure the damage isn’t worsened by ice and snow.
As the leaves begin to fall, keep an eye on your gutters. It’s a good idea to get up there regularly and remove any leaves, nests or miscellaneous debris, but now is the time when this is particularly crucial. Also check the gutters for leaks.
Now is also a good time to get your fireplace and chimney cleaned and inspected, before you really need to be using them. You can also get stocked up on firewood now; remember that it’s best to cover firewood and keep it safely stored away from the house.
Garden and Yard
Before the freeze sets in, now is when you’ll want to turn off any exterior faucets (you may also need to turn off the valve inside your home) and drain and store the garden hoses.
If you have a sprinkler or irrigation system, these may need to be drained and checked. For ease and safety of snow removal, mark sprinkler heads near these areas.
Cast an eye over your landscaping. Inspect trees for any damaged limbs that may break or grow too close to the power lines or the roof, especially as these may be a big problem during winter storms. Trim back bushes, scrubs and flowers as recommended for seasonal maintenance.
Bring inside any flowerpots to either clean or maintain. Plant any bulbs that will grow in the spring. Fertilize your lawn to help prevent frost damage and deter spring weeds.
Put away seasonal furniture, making sure to clean and dry everything, including seat cushions. While you’re storing these away in a dry place, it’s a good time to organize the shed and/or garage – move summer items to the back and fall or winter stuff up front where it’s more easily accessed. Also remove any liquids that will freeze.
With these tips, your house should be safe, secure and snug during fall and winter.