As we say goodbye to summer and usher in the changing autumn weather, it’s important to take stock of our homes and make sure they’re prepared for the coming seasons.
Proactive home maintenance is important to keep small issues from compounding into complex problems. It can also help increase your home’s value and keep landlords happy.
To make sure your home is ready to welcome fall and winter, we’ve come up with a checklist that covers important topics that apply to standalone houses as well as others you should keep in mind no matter what kind of home you live in, including apartments and condos.
Read on for useful tips to take care of your home at the end of the summer season.
• Store your outdoor furniture. Before autumn’s wet weather or winter’s snows set in, put away your patio and deck furniture. Everything should be safely stowed in your garage or shed before any possessions – especially wood or wicker items – get ruined.
• Clean out garbage and recycle bins to ward off small animals. Cold weather will lead animals and insects to look for places to set up shop until the weather warms up again. Smelly, grimy outdoor garbage cans can act as an open invitation to critters like raccoons. It only takes a few minutes to hose down bins with a little washing liquid and let them dry in what remains of the summer sun.
• Check your fences. Make sure your fences and deck boards are free of loose nails, missing boards, and rotting wood. You can then paint, stain, and seal them to protect them from harsh winter weather.
• Examine your home’s siding. Because the hot summer sun can ravage your home’s exterior, this is a great time to examine your house’s siding while it’s still warm out. Use a keen eye to look for flaws like cracks or soft spots that require attention. You can then take an afternoon to do some pressure washing, after which you can address the paint job. Chipped paint can help lead to wood rot, so you’ll want to touch up your house’s exterior. Not only will this improve the structural condition of your house, but it’ll make it look nicer as well.
• Inspect your house’s foundation. You’ll want to check the foundation for drainage issues like clogged downspouts or grading problems and take the time to repair them. Fill in any cracks or depressions that could possibly trap water or snow with a concrete crack filler or caulk. You can also hire a professional to conduct a more thorough inspection.
• Inspect your roof for loose, warped, or damaged shingles. Any damage to your roof can lead to water leakage or drafts, both of which can cause costly structural issues and leave your household uncomfortable (to say the least). If you do find any faulty shingles, you can replace them yourself or leave the repairs to a pro.
• While you’re on the roof, clean out those gutters. Leaves and other debris can trap fall rain and winter snow, impeding your gutters’ ability to drain properly. Excess water from clogged gutters can even contribute to the erosion of your house’s foundation, which you definitely want to avoid. Remember to check your gutters again a little later in the fall season after trees have started to shed their leaves.
• Clean the area around your HVAC unit. If your house uses an HVAC system, remove any brush or weeds that might have accumulated around the outside unit. Remove any brush or weeds that might have made a home around your outdoor HVAC unit. Any grass or foliage overgrowth can inhibit your unit’s efficiency or even cause it damage. You can clear up any large detritus by hand and spray smaller debris away with a hose. Keeping the area around your HVAC unit clear can cut down on energy waste and ensure a longer lifespan.
• Remove or cover window air conditioning units. If your home has any window units, make sure you cover up any existing gaps around the ACs by removing them or securely covering them up. You don’t want heat leaving your home through spaces around any air conditioners.
• Seal doors and windows. Caulk around your windows and weather-strip your doors to ensure heat stays inside where it belongs. This will necessitate less output from your heating system when the weather cools. Make sure you also clean any weep holes on the bottom frames of windows. You don’t want bugs and debris clogging up the holes, allowing water to fill up the channels and spill into your house.
• Complete any pending energy efficiency projects. If you’ve been planning on making any environmentally friendly house alterations, like installing energy-efficient exterior lighting, take advantage while the weather is still nice out. Otherwise, you’ll have to wait for your next opportunity come spring.
• Clean out your garage to make room for your car. No one wants to have to de-ice their car when they’re trying to leave the house for a lunch date or running late for work. If you take the time to clean and organize your garage, you can use the space to store your car and protect it from winter weather. No more icy windows to scrape!
• Examine basements and crawlspaces for excess moisture. The rest of your house might experience typical winter dryness, but your basement and crawlspaces can stay harmfully humid. If you notice too much humidity in dark spaces, consider a dehumidifier like the Honeywell TP70WKN. A powerful dehumidifier like the TP70WKN is a good investment to help reduce mold and mildew during the coming months. You’ll also want to make sure there’s no weather leaking into these areas, which you can do most effectively by checking for leaks immediately after it rains.
• Investigate for insect activity and mouse nests. In addition to hoarding moisture, basements and crawl spaces can house unwanted bugs and mice. As the weather starts to turn, small creatures like these will be looking for warm spaces to live. Do a sweep of these areas ahead of time to clear spaces inside cabinets and drawers, along baseboards, and inside any unused vehicles or equipment. It’s important to address these issues before they become a nuisance as mice can chew through wires and cause electronics to overheat, which can pose hazards to your home.
• Insulate your hot water heater and any exposed pipes. Insulation can help promote your heater’s efficiency, thereby decreasing energy usage and water bills. You can use insulation blankets or pipe lagging to achieve this.
• Drain your water heaters. If you aren’t careful, sediment consisting of minerals like calcium and magnesium can collect at the bottom of your tank, damaging it or even cause it to fail. Like insulation, drainage can increase heater efficiency and even extend its lifespan.
• Inspect your HVAC system and replace filters. Not all HVAC maintenance takes place outside. You should hire a qualified mechanic to make sure your HVAC is in working order. The last thing you want is to discover you can’t heat your home when you need it once winter arrives. Additionally, you should change HVAC filters before you start using your heater to ensure you are breathing higher quality air, which will flow more efficiently through clean filters. Because hot weather can build up bacteria and debris in air filters, the end of summer is an ideal time to exchange old filters for new ones.
• Reverse the direction of your ceiling fans. When you change the direction of your ceiling fans, you actually change the way air moves, which can more effectively heat or cool your rooms. In unpredictable autumn weather, it’s good to increase energy efficiency and reduce the strain on your heating and cooling systems. Your ceiling fans should rotate clockwise in the fall and winter, and you should switch them counterclockwise next summer.
• If you have a chimney, get it inspected by a professional. Having your chimney inspected properly before the first use of the season can help prevent dangerous fires.
A little prevention goes a long way, so while many of these home touchups can be performed throughout the year, take advantage of the last of the warm weather to cross these home chores off your list. It might seem like a lot of work, but you don’t need to tackle everything in one day. Make sure to wrap up the summer season by preparing your home for the cooler weather to come.