With each change in seasons, your home endures fluctuations in temperature and weather conditions as well as the wear and tear of aging. In order to keep your home running smoothly and to avoid costly repairs, it’s important to conduct seasonal maintenance tasks.
Fall is the perfect time to get a jump on preparing your property for the cold winter months. Some chores, like changing batteries in your smoke detector, can be done now. Other tasks, like cleaning gutters and shutting down your outdoor sprinklers, need to be taken care of before temperatures drop and the ground freezes.
Our Fall Home Maintenance Checklist is a handy guide for tackling the most important tasks to get your house winter-ready – and prevent unwelcome surprises next spring.
Indoor Heating and Plumbing
Chimney and Flue
Before using your fireplace, wood stove or pellet stove, make sure the chimney and flue are clean of debris, creosote and soot to prevent chimney fires and improve efficiency. The do-it-yourself Sooteater Rotary Pellet Stove Cleaning System cleans pellet stoves and stove pipes using cleaning tools that connect easily to any cordless power drill. Be sure to stock up on firewood so you’ll be ready for the first cold snap.
Before the winter heating season begins, order fuel and schedule an appointment with a heating and cooling professional to make sure your furnace is working properly and the filters are cleaned or replaced. To help keep heating bills in check, consider installing a smart home Internet thermostat that will allow you to control the temperature from in or outside your house.
Protect pipes in unheated locations from freezing and cracking by wrapping them with insulated tape or flexible molded pipe sleeves. To monitor potential leaks in even the most out-of-the-way places in the house, you can use a simple, easy-to-install local wireless water alarm system that emits an audible alarm and has an LED display that shows where a problem has occurred. If you’re looking for a “smart” system that allows you to remotely manage water issues when you’re away from home, the Water Hero P100 WiFi Flow Monitor & Shut Off System is a flow-based system that alerts you via text or e-mail to potential leaks and shuts off your water main valve. It also tracks temperature and provides water usage information.
Outdoor Maintenance and Gardening
Leaving garden hoses attached to outdoor faucets can cause water to back up in the pipes and freeze during a cold snap. Avoid potential damage by removing, draining and storing hoses in the garage or shed. If you’ll need the hose for pets or to fill an outdoor hot tub or pond, a thermostatically-controlled rubber hose will give you ice-free water all winter long.
Prevent ice dams from forming by cleaning fallen leaves and twigs out of your home’s gutters. Save money by using a do-it-yourself gutter cleaning tool kit instead of hiring a professional gutter cleaner. Check to make sure gutters aren’t sagging and trapping water, and tighten hangers or replace worn or damaged gutters and downspouts.
Prevent outdoor pipes from freezing and cracking by turning off outdoor water faucets using the basement shut-off valve and leaving outside faucet handles open. Turning off and draining the underground sprinkler system is also a pre-frost must-do. Even buried irrigation lines can freeze, leading to broken pipes and sprinkler heads.
Power Outage Prep
Stock up on batteries, bottled water, medicines and canned food. Get a hand-crank or solar-powered radio or a battery-powered NOAA Weather Radio to stay informed of severe weather developments and other emergencies. Keep a mobile phone charger on hand in case your landline telephone service goes out.
Smoke Alarms and CO Detectors
Replace batteries in smoke detectors and carbon monoxide (CO) detectors and vacuum with a soft brush. Test smoke detectors by pressing the test button or holding a smoke source (like a blown-out candle) near the unit. Check the expiration date on your CO detectors and replace if necessary.
Pet Safety and Pest Control
Dogs typically enjoy cold weather far more than their owners! Take preventative measures to keep your pet safe and secure when playing alone in in the yard by installing an invisible in-ground fence before the ground freezes.
Pesky rodents, birds and animals seeking warmth and food are a common problem during the winter months. Inspect the exterior of your house for openings where pests can enter and seal with caulking or screening. Use an electronic animal and pest deterrent that uses high-intensity ultrasonic sound waves too drive small animals out of your house, garage or storage shed without pesticides or traps.
More Home Maintenance Tips
Taking these and other precautions to winterize your home will help protect it from damage caused by changing temperatures, and make sure you and your family are safe and warm during the coldest months of the year. Shop our store for more ideas on preparing your home for winter weather and keeping you and your family safe and secure.