Say it isn’t so, today officially starts off the autumn season. I am truly a Summer lover, but fall is my close second with the beautiful New Hampshire foliage. As the weather turns cooler and the seasons change, take the time to winterize your home. Learn how to prepare your home for fall and winter with this fall checklist.
Autumn means warm colors, pumpkin carving and holiday preparation. As a homeowner, it also means taking time to clean out gutters and insulate water pipes. So, don’t wait until temperatures plummet to prepare your home for icy weather. Use this handy fall maintenance checklist for homeowners to see how you can prepare your home for colder weather.
1. Clean the Gutters & Downspout
A few leaves piling up along the roof might not seem like a problem, but it can lead to serious issues. If water doesn’t drain away from your home, cracks can form in your foundation, siding can rot and your basement can flood. Climb up there while temperatures are comfortable during the fall and clear out the debris. If you don’t want to do this yourself, you can hire someone to help.
While you’re up there, be sure to check for loose shingles and flashing. A wet winter’s night is not the time to discover that the roof over you bed is leaking.
2. Inspect Exterior & Make Repairs
This is the most crucial part of your home maintenance checklist. You need to inspect and examine each area of your home to look for signs of damage to the siding, windows, foundation, and roof. If you notice broken parts or damaged areas in the house, schedule a repair person as soon as possible.
Check the Railings, Walkways, Stairs, and Driveway. When ice and snow cover the ground, even walking from your driveway to the door can seem like a challenge. That’s why it’s essential to check the stairs and walkways for cracks or other tripping hazards. Also, make sure to check that your railings are in good shape and sturdy.
3. Seal Gaps Where Critters or Insects Could Enter
Mice and other creepy crawlies only need a tiny gap to sneak into the kitchen and attack your pantry. It doesn’t end there unfortunately, the critters will look for warm places to hide with snowy weather coming. Soft insulation in the attic or walls, blankets stored in boxes or closets, even inside your furniture make great winter homes for mice. Therefore, you must fill all small and large gaps carefully to keep these critters outside.
4. Insulate Water Pipes
Few things are worse than waking up to frozen water pipes — and it could get worse if the pipes crack or burst as they thaw. So, if you’re worried about freezing pipes this winter, follow these steps in the fall to avoid the mess:
- Seal holes, cracks, or crevices around the home where cold air leaks in
- Apply foam-rubber insulation to any exposed pipes or to pipes that are in unheated locations. Remember to wrap the corners and elbows too
- Keep cabinet doors open on severely cold nights
5. Schedule an HVAC Inspection
Stay warm and cozy this winter by having a professional complete a maintenance check during the fall on your heating and cooling systems, vents, and ductwork at least annually. This can keep you safe from carbon monoxide, mold spores and other allergens.
An HVAC professional will perform a variety of checks, including:
- Changing the filter
- Lubricating moving parts
- Testing the voltage
- Inspecting the thermostat
- Checking the start-up and shut-down controls
6. Sweep the Chimney
If you have a wood-burning fireplace and haven’t had your chimney cleaned, this is a must have item on your fall checklist because it’s time to get it swept out. This removes the soot from last year, makes sure you won’t smoke out nesting guests and keeps it safe for another season.
If you’ve never had your fireplace cleaned and inspected, call a professional chimney sweep. They’ll check that creosote hasn’t built up to dangerous levels and make sure the lining or masonry are intact. It’ll be easier to relax next to the warmth of the fire when you know that it’s smoke and sparks have a safe path out of your home.
7. Clean the Dryer Vent
This is an often-overlooked potential fire hazard that is quite easy to prevent. It’s up to you how often you do this, but it’s wise to periodically check your clean dryer vents to make sure they don’t have any lint building up. Lint is extremely flammable and many house fires each year are caused by someone’s negligence when it comes to keeping their dryers clean. This will also extend the life of your dryer, as a clogged vent makes the engine work that much harder.
8. Care for Trees and Shrubs
If you’ve spent time in the warmer months taking care of your yard, you’ll have less to worry about during the winter and can use that extra time to watch football or hang out with your family more. It’s a good idea though to walk your property and ensure that there aren’t any wayward branches on trees or overgrown shrubs that could be an issue once a freeze strikes.
9. Stock Up on Winter Supplies
Living in a region with snowy and cold winters means that fall is the right time to prepare. Get ready for the season by:
- Checking the ice scrapers and snow shovels and replace them if needed
- Picking up a pet-safe and plant-safe ice melt
- Restocking emergency and first-aid kits for your home and car
- Having your snow blower serviced and buying fuel
- Snow stakes to prevent damage to gardens & lawns
10. Last But Not Least & The Most Important Step of All
Get outside! Enjoys the fall foliage, hike our gorgeous mountain trails, carve some pumpkins, check out the awesome fall fairs around New England & if you are like me; a trip to Salem, MA around Halloween… Always a fun time. Just make sure you enjoys the beauty of New Hampshire before the Mother Nature hits us with the blustery cold of Winter.