Complete Fall Maintenance Checklist for Homeowners
Before the weather gets colder it becomes important to prepare for the winter months to avoid costly damage. The snow, cold, ice, and freezing weather can cause havoc on homes across the United States, and it is important to get your house in good shape before all of the leaves have fallen. While each home is different there are some basic things any homeowner should do between the heat of summer and the chilly air of winter to ensure you won't find an unexpected problem next year.
This fall preventive house maintenance checklist is a guide we believe every homeowner should take into consideration in order to prevent costly repairs and damage to your home, as well as keeping your family safe.
Check Your Furnace
One of the most important home maintenance to-dos you have in order before winter rolls in is a properly working heating system. Whether your home uses a gas or electric furnace, heat pump, boiler, or another heat source, scheduling an appointment with a heating and cooling company to get a heating system tune-up has to be at the top of your fall home prep list.
The heating season gets very busy for many HVAC companies. Many are scrambling to set up maintenance calls and tune-ups heading into October, so we always recommend the earlier you schedule this critical appointment the better. If your HVAC includes a built-in humidifier, make sure the contractor replaces that filter.
Before it gets too cold outside, it is smart to check your attic insulation, ventilation, and screening. When completing your fall home maintenance checklist, ensure that the insulation in your attic is installed properly, and does not cover up or hide vents in the eaves. The improper installation of insulation in your attic, like insulation installed upside down, for example, can cause moisture to build up and leak into your living spaces. Check to make sure your vapor barrier faces down towards your living spaces. If it was installed facing upwards, you can use a boxcutter and cut slits in the paper to prevent moisture build-up.
While you inspect your home's insulation, make sure that your vents are free of debris to ensure proper ventilation through your attic. If you happen to have screening around your attic to prevent unwanted gusts of wind from entering your home, make sure the screens are free of holes or tears.
Seal Air Leaks in Windows and Doors
Preventing unwanted cool air and moisture from entering through your walls is one of the least likely - and most important - fall maintenance jobs. Over the years, the caulk seals around windows and doors will begin to deteriorate, providing opportunities for your home's warm energy to leave your home and winter's cold air to enter. Pick an excellent day to inspect your exterior and seal up cracks between wood trim and siding around the window and entrance door frames and where pipes and other wires enter your home. Check the forecast and find a sunny day with outdoor temperatures over 50° so the caulk flows easily.
Another common way for homeowners to seal openings from the winter elements is weatherstripping. This padded layer of defense can fit around the joints of a door or window, like a border, adding another layer of protection.
Remove Garden Hoses From Faucets
This is one of those tasks that if you've ever forgotten to unscrew your garden hose from your outdoor faucet, you'll never forget to do it again. Leaving hoses attached can cause water to back up in the faucets and in the plumbing pipes just inside your exterior walls. When those winter freezing temps hit, the exterior hose bib and pipe can freeze, expand, and crack. Make this an early fall priority so a sudden cold snap doesn’t sneak up and cause damage.
You can buy insulated faucet guards to help protect the faucet from the harsh winter elements. Also, turn off any shutoff valves on water supply lines that lead to exterior faucets. This can protect against minor leaks that may let water enter the faucet. Drain your hoses and store them in a garage or shed.
Have Your Water Heater Inspected
There's nothing more jarring than waking up to no hot water and freezing temperatures outside in the middle of January. Whether you have a tanked water heater or high-efficiency tankless hot water heater, if you want it to last as long as possible, it’s important to keep an eye on how it’s functioning and conduct regular tank flushes and maintenance.
If your water temperature is inconsistent lately, it might just need a quick tune-up. If you're hearing loud banging sounds from the tank or the color of your water is turning a rust color, you'll want to call a professional plumber right away.
Change Your HVAC System Filter
If the filter is clogged or dirty for your furnace or heating system, your house is more likely not to be heated. This will cause your utility bills to rise as the home is warming. Clean the filter not only once per month, but also during the fall season.
Set a reminder each month to check your air filter and replace it. While the general rule is to change your filter every one to three months, they may need to be replaced more often if you have pets or open your windows often in the fall on those nice cool nights.
Change Batteries in Carbon Monoxide Detectors and Smoke Detectors
It's important to regularly change the batteries in your smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors, especially heading into winter. If you have a gas fireplace or a wood-burning one, your home is more susceptible to carbon monoxide poisoning.
Fresh batteries will keep your family safe all fall and winter long. And if you don't already have a carbon monoxide detector, we always recommend installing one by each fireplace.
Clean Your Gutters and Downspouts
If you live in an area with a lot of trees and shrubs, you know leaf ranking is in your future. Clogged gutters of wet leaves could cause rotting roof surfaces and water in your basement. They are also more resistant to rust and corrosion. Wash out any dirt on the outside of your gutter before the leaves fly and protect with mesh gutter guards when it rains. Your roof draining system helps divert thousands of cubic yards of water annually from your house's exterior walls and foundations so keeping these systems going smoothly is vital.
Ready to Prepare for Fall?
This may seem like an overwhelming list, but one call to ARS®/Rescue Rooter® can take care of half of your to-do fall home maintenance checklist. As a premier home services company, our plumbers, HVAC technicians, and home comfort specialists take great pride in keeping our neighbors safe and their homes ready for the changing seasons. Give us a call to schedule an appointment for any heating and cooling, plumbing, attic insulation, electrical, and air quality services you may need.