Preventative home maintenance. This term can trigger fear, guilt, and panic, even among the most responsible and on-top-of-things home owners. It can be intimidating (not to mention costly!) to figure out and take care of what needs to be done to protect your most valuable investment, your home. To help us all out, I've narrowed down and explained the most important preventative maintenance items that should be addressed in the fall and winter. Deep breaths - you can do this! I also created a printable checklist for you! Let's get to it.
1. Clean out gutters and downspouts. Take note of any water pooling around downspouts, overflowing from gutters, or pouring out in areas where it shouldn't, and make sure all water is running away from your foundation. If this is not the case, investigate!
2. Check windows and doors. Tighten any loose window frames, check for drafts coming in underneath doors - add weather stripping or door sweeps if necessary. This can help drastically reduce your heating bill during the colder months.
3. Get your heating system serviced. While there is a cost associated with conducting a professional heating system inspection, having a properly functioning furnace during the months when it's working the hardest can ultimately save you money. Also be sure to change the filter to reduce allergens and improve efficiency.
4. Check the water pipes. Make sure you know where the main water shut off valve is in case of a pipe freezing. Check to make sure your pipes are well insulated. Drain and store hoses inside of a garage or shed, and turn off exterior water sources - this will help to prevent any burst pipes or ruined hoses. Also be sure to drain and then turn off your sprinkler system.
5. Clean chimneys and inspect fireplaces. Fireplaces and chimneys that are used regularly should have an annual cleaning and inspection for safety. You can inspect the actual fireplace visually by looking for any cracks or missing pieces using a flashlight, and by opening the damper and looking up the chimney to make sure you don't see any animal nesting materials, sticks, or other debris. Hire a professional to sweep your chimney. This can significantly reduce the risk of a house fire.
Click the picture to download and print!
6. Yard maintenance. Fertilize your lawn, and trim back any plants that will be dormant over the winter. Inspect the trees on your property for any branches that look damaged or that are hanging dangerously close to your home or to power lines - it is best to have these removed before fall and winter storms come through to minimize the chances of damage to your property. If you aren't sure what to look for, bring in the professionals - most tree maintenance companies will come inspect your trees for free and then can make recommendations and give quotes for any work needed. It's also time to pull in all of the outdoor kids toys and lawn chairs, and protect patio furniture that cannot be stored indoors.
7. Look for exterior disrepair. Take a walk around the exterior of your home (and on your roof if you feel comfortable) and inspect for any signs of damage to the roof, siding, or foundation. Are there any rotting boards? Loose or missing shingles? If you see any signs of disrepair, get the problem fixed before the winter weather hits.
8. Take care of your AC unit. If you have a window unit, remove and store it. If you have a freestanding outdoor unit, make sure it is cleaned off and the cover is put on.
9. Clean your 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 (YouTube is great for DIY instructional videos).
10. Check your smoke and carbon monoxide alarms. This is a task that is always a "should do" and I think gets pushed out more often than not (at least in my house!). Now is a great time to test all of your alarms, replace batteries, and vacuum out the alarm covers (small bugs or spiders crawling around in an alarm cover can actually set off the alarm!). Most structure fires occur in the winter months, so now is a great time to get this done.
Always remember, I am here for you! If you have questions or need help with anything, I am just a phone call, text, or email away. Let's chat!