Fall Maintenance Check List

Fall Maintenance To-do List

As the colder months approach, now is the perfect time to begin anticipating some home maintenance issues that could crop up over the Winter. By taking a few maintenance steps now, you can save yourself thousands of dollars, and loads of stress, by preventing some unexpected repairs that will cost you far more when you are forced to fix the issue on the spot.

You will want to make your own to-do list, taking into account the unique features of your home that may make it vulnerable to weather and pest damage, as well as wear-and-tear, but the list below is a good place to start.

Clean Gutters

As Fall rolls around, falling leaves and plant debris can build up in gutters, clogging them and possibly leading to water damage during heavy rains. To clean your gutters, Lowe's Hardware recommends beginning near the drain, removing larger blockage with a towel, and finishing by flushing the system with a garden hose. Easy peasy.

If you are needing to replace then seamless gutters are your best choice as they are custom made to run the entire length of a house. More costly but weight the pros and cons of this being a DIY project or one for the professionals.

Repair Driveways

Any outdoor pavement and walkways are best dealt with when the weather is warm and dry so get to this before late October.  Areas on an incline are prone to erosion so pay close attention to there. To ready your driveway for the Winter months fill in any large holes or cracks with a mixture of coarse gravel and sand, or repave with concrete or asphalt if you are certain that your foundation is sound and sloped properly so water doesn't flow toward your home.

The fixes are always temporary because water will seep in between the old and new material and start to open up the hole again. Regardless of age, repairs will make your driveway last a little longer but at some point the extra work isn't worth it. 

Seal Windows

Upwards of 35% of your homes heat is lost through gaps in windows and walls. A relatively easy way to save on this heat loss is by re-sealing windows with caulk or new weather stripping and be done with those drafty windows once and for all.

Over time the glazing putty used at installation become brittle and begins to fall away leaving the glass rattling in place. Wood windows shrink with age and begin to let cold air in. Even newer vinyl or aluminum windows may have worn-out weather stripping.

You will want to take care of this before the cold and wet weather starts as well sealed windows will prevent water from entering and freezing which causes real damage to your windows.

The solution: Head on over to Home Depot and let them show you the best window caulk or stripping that you should be using. Even a mediocre DIY repair job will do a lot to eliminate leaks and will only only costs a few vente Starbucks mocha frappaccinos.

Refinish Decks

Summer may have been hard on your outdoor wood features, especially decks, as they are highly exposed to the sun's heat, and the finish can often crack, flake and fade. You will likely need to re-stain and seal your deck every three to four years, and Fall is the perfect time if you can find a couple days of no rain that is. Staining can quickly and easily improve the appearance of your deck and will give it new life for the following patio season.

While it's possible for wood to rot or warp, your deck is made of treated lumber and is designed specifically to battle the harsh elements. However, if your deck hasn't been restained in a number of years and is already looking a bit long in the tooth then a large amount of moisture from snow and cold weather will not help and will make a Spring repair that much more expensive and extenisve.

The solution: Powerwash and re-stain. Invest in a power washer and remove any remaining stain, sealant, dirt and grime. Don't get too overzealous with the water pressure as you may splinter or cause damage to the wood. Allow your deck to dry from the cleaning first and then invest in a quality stain and sealer. Unlike paint that just sits on top of the wood, stain penetrates the wood grain and seals it, while also allowing moisture to escape. Unlike paint, it won’t chip, peel or crack as the decking expands and shrinks with the change in temperature.

If your deck doesn't need a re-stain it is still a good idea to blast it with power washer to remove and mildew and mold which will cause damage if not removed.

Pro Tip: the more tinting the stain has, the better protected your deck will be from fading and moisture.

Check Heating and Ventilation

Vents and baseboard heaters should be checked at least once a year, and HVAC units need to be checked regularly: experts suggest between 30 days and 6 months, depending on the type. Avoid breakdown of your heating system due to overload by performing maintenance at the end of the Summer, as you will be relying on it more heavily in the coming months.

  • Test your thermostat to ensure that your HVAC is not being overworked and that it is responding properly by displaying an accurate temperature reading.
  • If you have an A/C unit, now is the time to prepare it for winter hibernation. As we switch from Summer to Fall and head into Winter it's a good time to test and wake up your heating system to ensure there are no problems. The last thing you want is to have your furnace break down in the middle of winter. $$$
  • At the change of every season it's a good idea to change the air filters of your HVAC system. A dirty HVAC filter restrict airflow and reduce the efficiency system and let's face it, when was the last time you changed it? It’s a simple and inexpensive change, that can mean the difference between optimum comfort and avoidable repairs.

Thinking of selling? Talk to a VRE agent to ensure your DIY repairs are the best use of your time and money!

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