Regular home maintenance can be the difference between keeping your home safe and sound all-year-round, or being confronted with expensive and inconvenient repairs, such as a leaky roof or a flooded basement.
Seasonal maintenance is very important. When the weather is turning cold, you want to make sure that you prepare your home for the upcoming fall and winter chill. Doing so can prevent you from shelling out money for a repair during frigid conditions.
So, what should you do when you’re preparing your home for fall? Here are our top fall home maintenance tips!
1. Winterize A/C System
Your central air conditioner can be damaged by the ice, snow, debris, and other weather-related conditions of the fall and winter. That means you should winterize it before it gets too cold outside.
Winterizing your A/C is simple to do. Simply begin by removing grass, leaves, twigs, and other debris from the unit itself. Then, use a garden hose to rinse it, and remove more debris, dirt, and dust.
Allow the unit to dry, then cut off the electrical power at the electrical circuit, to keep it from switching on if a day is unexpectedly warm. After this, install rubber pipe insulation around the pipes to protect against freezing.
Finally, cover your unit with an A/C cover, to keep ice, snow, and other debris from building up on it – and to keep hibernating critters away from the A/C.
2. Prepare Heating System For Winter
You also need to prepare your furnace for winter. We recommend having a yearly furnace inspection conducted, before you turn it on for the first time each year. A professional can assess the condition of your furnace and heating systems, and ensure that they are safe to use. You may also want to change your air filter and replace your ducts.
3. Flush Hot Water Heater
Flushing your water heater can help remove sediment from the tank, and prolong its lifespan, and fall is the perfect time to do this.
If you’re not handy and don’t like working with tools, you may want to hire a professional to do this. It’s not expensive, and the cost of a maintenance call is small, compared to the benefits of a longer water heater lifespan.
If you want to try to do it yourself, though, this guide from Family Handyman is a good place to start. You’ll save a little money, and learn more about how your water heater works!
4. Shut Off Exterior Faucets
If you don’t shut off the water supply to your exterior faucets from inside your house, the pipes leading to it may crack and freeze, which can cause leaks, and cost a lot of money to replace.
If you have a “frost-free” faucet, you may not need to do this. A good rule of thumb is that, if a faucet knob is perpendicular to the house, it’s frost-free, and uses what’s called a “frost-free sillcock” to prevent freezing – but make sure you double-check.
If your sillcock is not frost-free, there should be a shut-off valve for the exterior faucet, somewhere on the pipe that leads to it. Locate this, and shut it off. Then, open up the outside faucet, and then open the adjacent bleeder valve to let any remaining water drain out.
5. Clean Chimney And Fireplace
Your chimney and fireplace should be cleaned and inspected yearly to make sure they’re safe to use. Generally, a professional is required, as they will be able to recognize any issues with your fireplace, and be able to give it a deep clean which will prevent dangerous chimney fires. You should also clean out your fireplace.
If you don’t use your chimney or fireplace in the winter, you may be able to do this once every two years – but we don’t recommend this, as the chimney is a common failure point when it comes to roof leaks. A regular inspection every year helps keep it clear, and ensures it’s not leaking.
6. Test Your Sump Pump
Your sump pump keeps water out of your basement, and away from your foundation. If it fails during the winter, and water builds up underneath your home, it can freeze and crack, which may cause permanent damage to your foundation.
So make sure you test your sump pump out. You can hire a professional, or follow this guide to do it yourself. You should test your sump pump regularly throughout the fall and winter, whenever there is a heavy downpour.
7. Check for cracks in pavement
The corrosive properties of road salt, as well as the thermal expansion of pavement during freezing and refreezing, can turn small pavement cracks into serious damage, and carve out chunks from your driveway the next spring, after the winter has passed.
This is why you should check for cracks in your pavement in the fall. You may want to consider re-sealing your driveway if you have a lot of cracks. If you just have a few cracks, you can use asphalt driveway repair caulk to plug them up, and keep them protected during the fall and winter.
A little bit of preventative maintenance goes a long way, and can keep your driveway intact and in great shape.
8. Check Your Windows
You should check your windows for damage and loose frames, to make sure they’re in good shape before the winter. In addition, you may want to install additional weather stripping or caulking around them, to prevent drafts and keep your power bills low.
If you’re serious about energy conservation, you could also invest in a pair of energy-efficient cell blinds, as well as heavy blackout curtains. Combined, these window treatments can help insulate your windows, keeping you comfortable and reducing your power bill.
Get Ready For The Fall And Winter With This Guide!
Regular home maintenance is key for simplifying home ownership, and avoiding major repairs and unexpected costs. So follow these tips, and keep your home safe this fall and winter.