West Tennessee Home Builders Association

West Tennessee Home Builders Association

Your Fall Home Maintenance Checklist

Your Fall Home Maintenance Checklist

Fall is a good time to take care of big home repair projects before shorter days (and in many areas, ice and snow) make outdoor work too difficult. And if you do live in an area with cold winters, take some time this fall to boost energy efficiency throughout your home, and prevent damage from winter storms with proper tree care (we spoke with an expert to find out what you need to do). Tick these 15 items off your list this season, and you can rest easy knowing that your home and yard are buttoned up and ready for winter.

  1. Care for trees and shrubs. If you have trees on your property, consider hiring an arborist to care for them — these pros can spot signs of poor health early on to prevent tree loss, and know how to prune properly to avoid falling limbs in winter storms.
  2. Rake leaves. Leaves look beautiful blanketing the ground, but leaving too many leaves on a lawn over winter in a snowy area can inhibit spring growth. To make the job easier, choose a lightweight rake, wear gloves to protect your hands and use handheld “leaf scoops” to bag leaves quickly.
  3. Clean gutters and downspouts. Once most of the leaves have fallen, clean out gutters and downspouts (hire a helper if you are not comfortable on a ladder). Clogged gutters during rainstorms can cause water to pool and damage your roof or siding.
  4. Make exterior repairs. Take a walk around your property, looking for signs of damage to the roof, siding and foundation. If you spot anything that needs repair, schedule it before winter weather hits.
  5. Seal gaps where critters could enter. Mice need only a tiny gap to be able to sneak into your house and raid your pantry — and with colder weather coming, all of the little critters out there will be looking for warm places to make a home. Fill small holes and cover any larger gaps securely with heavy-duty hardware cloth to keep the wildlife outdoors.
  6. Check walkways, railings, stairs and the driveway for winter safety. When the landscape is covered in ice and snow, just walking from the driveway to the front door can be quite a challenge.
  7. Stock up on winter supplies. Pick up a bag of pet and plant-safe ice melt, and restock emergency kits for car and home
  8. Shut off exterior faucets and store hoses. Protect your pipes from freezing temperatures by shutting off water to exterior faucets before the weather dips below freezing. Drain hoses and store them indoors.
  9. Add weatherstripping. Weatherstripping applied around the frames of windows and doors helps boost winter warmth and cut energy costs. Add door sweeps to the base of drafty doors to keep heat in and cold air out.
  10. Check safety devices. Test smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors; replace batteries as needed. Check the expiration date on your fire extinguisher and replace if needed. If you haven’t checked your home for radon, fall is a good time to do so — as the weather gets cooler and windows stay shut more often, radon is more likely to become trapped in your home. (Radon at high enough levels is extremely harmful, so if you find that your home has radon radon level of 4, hire a contractor qualified to fix radon issues.)
  11. Clean 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.
  12. Schedule a chimney cleaning and heating system maintenance. Making sure your chimney and furnace or boiler are cleaned, maintained and in working order before you need to turn on the heat is an important safety measure. And be sure to add a chimney cap to stop critters from crawling in!
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