As a professional home inspector, I see so many homes with problems that could have been avoided with simple home maintenance. Not sure what to look for when determining what items need attention? Why not consider hiring a home inspector to evaluate your home for necessary maintenance tasks? What better person to know what to look for and care for a home that a home inspector? If you can perform your own maintenance, here is a list of fall maintenance items I hope you will find helpful.
Early fall is the best time to start getting your house ready for the cold winter season. Most people don't get into the winterizing "mode" until the first cold day, but the reason early fall is better than late fall is because it is just easier to perform some of the different tasks when the temperatures are warmer.
Here is a good checklist for fall maintenance items:
1. Clean those gutters
If your house has gutters, be sure to keep them debris free and if you have large trees over the house, you may have to clean them more that once before they lose all their leaves. Many people think, "I'll just wait until all the leaves fall, then I'll clean the gutters". The problem with this is that it does not take many leaves to stop up the drain spouts and if a hard rain comes, water could overflow the gutters and cause water damage to the roof edges and get under the roof's flashing.
2. Inspect your roof and repair shingles
Perform necessary repairs to cracked and torn shingles. Use roofing cement to seal in areas that you feel may cause leaks and to secure shingles that you may feel will blow off in high winds. Also make sure tree limbs are not touching or rubbing on the roof. Trim any tree branch that may rub on the roof surface. During my routine home inspections, I have seen several roofs that will require expensive repairs simply because tree limbs were rubbing on the roof surface.
3. Cut back shrubs
Shrubs rubbing against the house can invite insects and rodents to enter the house and can cause siding damage when the branches rub on the house in winds.
4. Caulk Windows
By the time the fall rolls around, more that likely your windows probably have cracked caulking around them. Sealing around your windows on the inside as well as the outside of the house can really cut back the amount of cold air that enters your home and warm air that escapes. You may think that these cracks look so small and insignificant, but when you consider all the cracks around all the windows, that could be a lot cold air coming in! Especially pay attention to those north windows.
Here is a tip if you have those older single pane windows with no storm windows installed.
Take some thick clear plastic and cut it to the size of the window frame. Attach it to the inside of the window around the frame and it should create an air space between the glass and the plastic. This will really help insulate the window and keep the room warmer. I have seen people put the plastic directly on the glass, but that will not create the air space. It's the air space that insulates the window.
5. Clean the fireplace and flue
If your home has a fireplace, make sure it's clean and clear of creosote buildup before a heavy season of fireplace use. What is creosote? It's a black flaky substance that builds up in the flue and the opening of the flue. This substance can become flammable in high temperatures, so keep it clean! Also keep in mind that poorly drafted fireplaces can cause carbon monoxide to enter the living space, so always have CO detectors installed in the home when fireplaces are present as well as gas appliances.
6. Winterize external plumbing pipes ad fixtures
Don't wait until the first freeze comes to rush out and do this. Calling a plumber to come out and repair a freeze busted pipe is expensive, not to mention the damage that this can cause. Wrap exposed pipes on the outside of the house and the garage with pipe wrap and install covers on the hose spigots. These are easily removed and reinstalled if you need to use the hose in the meantime.
7. Store outdoor furniture
Most outdoor furniture is made of some sort of plastic material that can crack and break in cold temperatures. If you can't store it in a protected area, at least wrap the furniture in a thick protective covering.
I hope you find this information useful and again, the best way to get a complete analysis of your home's condition before the cold weather sets in is to get a professional maintenance home inspection. Call or email me if I can answer any question you may have.