22 Fall Home Maintenance Tips

    22 Fall Home Maintenance Tips

    It is that time of year when we wake up to darker mornings, we feel the change in weather and have to grab our sweaters as we get ready for work and school. Our Saturdays are no longer popular for seeing homes as most people are watching football.  Now Sundays after church are our preparation day for fall decorations and getting our homes ready for autumn!

    As you are getting ready to take on the honey-do-list, I wanted to share my 22 preparation tips that can’t be overlooked!  Many of these are geared towards the beautification and longevity of your home, but several are for you and your family’s health and safety. So, please heed our tips and advice, and if I missed any below, please send them on so I can keep my list growing and updated for you and your friends next year!

    1. Have your HVAC unit cleaned and inspected annually by a qualified technician. The licensed heating contractor needs to inspect and service your gas heater or furnace to avoid carbon monoxide poisoning. Your local utility company will often provide this service for free.
    2. Keep flammable materials, including all lawn and power equipment, away from water heaters and wiring at your garage or other storage areas.
    3. Insulate water pipes in areas exposed to cold temperatures and turn up your thermostat during extra cold periods of our fall and winter months.
    To prevent exterior water pipes from bursting when the weather gets below freezing, turn off the valves to the exterior hose bibs. Run the water until the pipes are empty. Make sure all the water is drained from the pipes, if not; the water can freeze up and damage the pipes. Additionally you can wrap water pipes that run along exterior walls with heating tape. It will save energy and prevent them from freezing.
    4. Clean gutters and downspouts to keep debris from accumulating. This is especially important during the fall season to keep leaves from building up. Make sure all drainage areas are unblocked by leaves and debris. Consider installing gutter guards to make the job a lot easier.
    5. Inspect your roof, or hire a licensed professional to examine your roof for wear and tear. If the shingles are curling, buckling or crackling, replace them. If you have a lot of damage, it’s time to replace the entire roof. Also, check the flashing around skylights, pipes and chimneys. If you have any leaks or gaps, heavy snow and ice will find its way in.
    6. Check and repair caulking around doors and windows that show signs of deterioration.
    7. Check caulking around showers, bathtubs, sinks and toilet bases; and set reminders to check this regularly.
    8. Use a screwdriver to probe the wood trim around windows, doors, railings and decks. Use caulk to fill the holes if needed or completely replace the wood.
    9. Have your chimney cleaned and maintained annually by a professional. Now is an ideal time just before we are about to start using our fireplaces. This is important for them to be cleaned and repaired to prevent chimney fires and carbon monoxide poisoning.
    10. Clean and/or replace your HVAC filter. (As you have heard me harp on this before, clean/replace every 30-60 days depending on your unit size.)
    11. Clean your [laundry] dryer exhaust duct and space under the dryer. Remove all lint, dust, and pieces of material.
    12. Check your electrical outlets for potential fire hazards such as frayed wires or loose-fitting plugs. Be sure not to overload electrical outlets, fuse boxes, extension cords or any other power service.
    13. Keep a multi-purpose fire extinguisher accessible, filled and ready for operation.
    14. Each fall, check carbon monoxide detectors and smoke alarms and put in fresh batteries. Make sure there is at least a smoke detector on each floor of your home. Carbon Monoxide detectors should be installed near each potential source of carbon monoxide, and within ear shot of the living and sleeping areas. These are both very important detectors to have in a home. A smoke alarm can save lives in a house fire and a carbon monoxide detector can also save lives if a home has oil or gas-burning appliances, like a furnace or water heater.  Carbon monoxide is an invisible, odorless byproduct of burning oil or natural gas, and it can be deadly. For just a few dollars, a carbon monoxide detector will sound an alarm if the levels get too high.
    15. Lower humidity and autumn temperatures make fall an optimal time to paint the exterior of your home.
    16. The change in temperature and humidity and normal wear and tear can cause window seals to crack and shrink. Check your windows and doors inside and out for leaks and drafts. Caulk cracks or install weather stripping around windows and doors, including the garage door. Replace and clean screens and storm windows as needed.
    17. Fall is the perfect time to divide or move perennials. Remove dead annuals and mulch hardy perennials. Annuals typically die when temperatures drop below freezing but perennials often appear as though they too have bitten the bullet. That’s because their top growth dies back, although in most cases the root ball is hardly enough to survive even extreme temperatures, especially if it’s covered with a layer of mulch.  The best time to mulch perennials is after the first hard freeze. Just make sure you don’t cover the crown or center of the plant, because that can lead to rot.
    18. Clean garden tools before storing for the winter.
    19. Trim dead branches out of your trees to prevent them from coming down and causing damage in a winter storm.
    20. Rake up the thick layers of leaves that settle on lawn surfaces. Large leaves in particular, especially when they get wet, can compact to the point where they suffocate the grass below and lead to insect and disease problems. So it’s a good idea to routinely rake or blow them off the lawn or, better yet, use a mulching mower to shred them into fine pieces for your compost pile or use as a mulch.
    21. Fall is a good time to aerate your lawn; it will allow moisture and nutrients to get into the roots. When you’re done, spread fertilizer then grass seed. This will be the ideal time to sow cool-season grasses such as fescue and rye – it will give them the opportunity to germinate and develop a good root system before freezing temperatures arrive. It’s also the right time to fertilize turf grasses, preferably with slow-release, all-natural fertilizer. When given adequate nutrients, turf grasses have the ability to store food in the form of carbohydrates during the winter months. That will mean a better-looking lawn come spring.
    22. Pests love attics because they are full of nice warm insulation for nesting, and they offer easy access to the rest of the house. With gable vents that lead into the attic it is a good idea to install a screen behind them to keep those critters out. Even after closing off those entryways, pests can still find a way in. The first place to check for any unwanted guests is under the kitchen cupboards and appliances.

    By performing these routine maintenance tasks, this may help prevent any surprises your home may have in store for you this fall/winter. If you have any specific questions, don’t hesitate to contact me at amanda@amandahoward.com or (256) 799-9000. Thanks and have a great Monday!


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