Prevent winter damage and boost energy efficiency by ticking off this cold weather maintenance checklist before inclement weather hits.
Fall is time to take care of big home repair projects before shorter days and bad weather make outdoor work too difficult. You can also take steps to improve energy efficiency throughout your home. Laura Gaskill with Houzz walks us through Your Fall Maintenance Checklist.
Care for trees and shrubs
Be sure to trim trees to prevent falling limbs this winter. Consider hiring an arborist to care for them — these pros can spot signs of poor health early on to prevent tree loss, and know how to prune properly to avoid falling limbs in winter storms.
Leaving too many leaves on a lawn over winter in a snowy area can inhibit spring growth. To make the job easier, choose a lightweight rake, wear gloves to protect your hands and use handheld “leaf scoops” to bag leaves quickly.
Clean gutters and downspouts
Once most of the leaves have fallen, clean out gutters and downspouts. Clogged gutters during rainstorms can cause water to pool and damage your roof or siding.
Make exterior repairs
Take a walk around your property, looking for signs of damage to the roof, siding and foundation. If you spot anything that needs repair, schedule it before winter weather hits.
Seal gaps where critters could enter
With colder weather coming, all of the little critters out there will be looking for warm places to make a home. Fill small holes and cover any larger gaps securely with heavy-duty hardware cloth to keep the wildlife outdoors.
Check walkways, railings, stairs and the driveway for winter safety
Make navigating around your home safer by checking that all stairs are in good shape and have sturdy railings, and that the driveway is in good repair to make for easier shoveling.
Stock up on winter supplies
If you live in a region with cold, snowy winters, fall is the time to prepare.
- Check the condition of snow shovels and ice scrapers; replace as needed
- Pick up a bag of pet (and plant) safe ice melt, if needed
- Restock emergency kits for car and home
- If you use a snow blower, have it serviced and purchase fuel
Shut off exterior faucets and store hoses
Protect your pipes from freezing temperatures by shutting off water to exterior faucets before the weather dips below freezing. Drain hoses and store them indoors.
Weatherstripping applied around the frames of windows and doors helps boost winter warmth and cut energy costs. Add door sweeps to the base of drafty doors to keep heat in and cold air out. If you’re feeling crafty, you can even make your own cozy draft stopper from an old flannel shirt, wool sweater or fleece blanket.
Check safety devices
Test smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors; replace batteries as needed. Check the expiration date on your fire extinguisher and replace if needed. Check for Radon in your home.
Remove window A/C units
If you use window air conditioning units in the summer, remove them before the weather turns cold. If you must leave window A/C units in, cover the entire exterior of the unit with an insulating wrap to keep cold air out.
Clean dryer vents
Lint buildup in dryer vents can make your dryer work less efficiently and even cause a fire — cool, dry fall weather increases static electricity, which can ignite lint that has built up, so now is a key time to get that lint out. You can hire a duct cleaning specialist to clean the vents for you, or clean the vent yourself. If you decide to do it yourself – See safety tips!
Deep-clean the kitchen
Take a day to tackle some of the more labor-intensive cleaning tasks, and keep your kitchen working efficiently and looking great.
Conduct an energy audit
A trained auditor can assess your home’s current energy efficiency and give you a list of recommended improvements you can make, which may include upgrading to Energy Star appliances, adding insulation to the attic or beefing up weatherstripping. You can also find instructions for a do-it-yourself energy audit at Energy.gov.
Schedule a chimney cleaning and heating system maintenance
Making sure your chimney and furnace or boiler are cleaned, maintained and in working order before you need to turn on the heat is an important safety measure. And be sure to add a chimney cap if you don’t already have one — it will stop critters from crawling down your chimney!