Fall Home Maintenance Tips

We have several Fall Home Maintenance tips for you to follow to get your home winter ready.

Turn off your outdoor water and store hoses. Drain and turn off sprinkler system. Because water expands as it freezes, it's important that all external water lines are shut off before colder weather arrives. This means removing garden hoses from their faucets and draining them as well as the pipes themselves. Water mains that service the outside of the home should be shut off at this time, and if the home is equipped with a sprinkler system, it's important to hire a licensed contractor to come and blow out the system for the season.

Once most of the leaves have fallen clean your gutters and downspouts. Clogged gutters during rainstorms can cause water to pool and damage your roof or siding. Overflowing gutters eventually can turn into major repairs problems. During a regular storm that drops 1 inch of rain,1100 square feet (25 x 44) of roof will collect about 60 gallons of water. If your gutters are blocked and overflow, they can dump several gallons down the side of your home, allowing it to penetrate the siding, get into sheathing and seep into the basement or crawlspace. Repeated occurrences can lead to wall rot, mold and expensive repairs, so address the problem now before winter brings increased precipitation.

Check your trees and prune your plants. Late fall is the best time to prune plants and trees — when the summer growth cycle is over. Your goal is to keep limbs and branches at least 3 feet from your house so moisture won’t drip onto roofing and siding. In addition to clogging a home's gutters with leaves, trees near a home also pose potential danger to the structure itself should snowfall, wind or other extreme weather cause the tree to collapse or lose limbs. To determine the risk posed by trees on the property, inspect each nearby tree and look for signs of disease or decay. If a diseased tree or limb is identified on the property, consider removing the tree or branch to protect the home from damage.

Check safety devices. Test smoke and carbon monoxide detectors; replace batteries if needed. Check the expiration date on your fire extinguisher and replace if necessary.
Kidde has had many recalls lately. Please make sure your devices are not one of the thousands being recalled.
Kidde dual-sensor (photoelectric and ionization) smoke alarms – models PI2010 and PI9010 AND
Plastic handle fire extinguishers: The recall involves 134 models of Kidde fire extinguishers manufactured between January 1, 1973 and August 15, 2017, including models that were previously recalled in March 2009 and February 2015.
Contact Kidde @ 855-271-0773 or go to their recall website page.

Make exterior repairs. Check for signs of damage to your:roof, siding and foundation. Once the temperature drops, water isn't the only invader homeowners have to fear. Colder temperatures force insects and rodents to seek warmth, and they can do so by trying to gain access to the home. To prevent this, homeowners should inspect the exterior of their property and look for any cracks in the foundation that vermin may be able to use. These cracks should be sealed immediately.
Replace the filter in your furnace. You’ll want to look at the filters in your furnace and humidifier (if you have one). The changing of furnace filters isn’t too hard, and you can easily do it yourself. Typically,you should change your filters monthly, but sometimes things fall through the cracks during summer months – we understand. In winter, fresh filters are far more important. Most people don’t keep windows or doors open in December,meaning that air quality in your home is profoundly impacted. Additionally,clean filters mean your unit doesn’t have to work as hard to pump air through your house. Clean filters help cut costs when it counts! You’ll want to make sure your humidifier filter is clean too.

Clean Your Ducts to Get Rid of Dust and Allergens. Speaking of pumping air throughout the house, you can also look at the vents and intake.Are they dusty? You’ll want to dust the vents throughout the year to help flowing as efficiently as possible. Fall is an ideal time of year to have your ducts cleaned as well. Air duct cleaning gets rid of dust, pollen,animal hair & dander, dust mites and more. It’s important to have clean ducts when you’re going to be cooped up all winter with the windows closed and no fresh air circulating. It’s even more important if you have allergy sufferers living in your home.

Fireplace Maintenance. These simple inspections can be made by just about anyone and could lead to spotting a necessary chimney repair before it becomes a much larger problem.
1. Check the Firebox. Cracks and loose joints in the masonry are an issue, but one that is easy to repair. Chimney experts can generally fix small cracks by applying refractory cement to seal up the offending areas.
2. Examine the Damper. It should open and close easily, and you don’t want to see any evidence of extensive rust, cracks or pitting. If you do, it’s time to have your damper replaced. If the damper doesn't seal well, your home can lose a tremendous amount of heat,even when the fireplace isn’t in use.
3. Look up the Flue. Use a high-powered flashlight and inspect the flue liner for cracks or other defects. All the joints should be smooth and tight to prevent fire or heat from reaching the materials behind it.

Identifying Areas in Need of Chimney Repair from the Outside. Just about every homeowner can examine components that are visible from indoors, but it is often necessary to climb up to the roof to spot areas in need of repair. We do not advise you to do this on your own. Instead, use a Chimney service company. They are often better able to identify and handle problems in these harder to reach areas.

Don’t wait for the first winter storm. Stock up now on winter supplies. Check the condition of your shovels & ice scrapers and replace if needed. Pick up a bag of pet and plant-safe ice melt. If you use as now blower, have it serviced and purchase fuel.

Add weather stripping. You may not have money to remodel your home to save energy. However, there is one simple thing to do, you can fix air leaks with weather-stripping and caulking. This can greatly reduce your homes energy usage through more efficient heating and cooling. Many homes constantly leak their temperature-controlled air and take in outside weather even if they don't feel drafty. With the windows and doors closed, there can still be hidden gaps: around window or door frames, between the baseboards, floorboards and by outlets. You can save 5-10% on your energy bill by fixing air leaks with weather-stripping and caulking. To fix leaks, there are a couple of methods you can use: weather-stripping, caulking and for bigger holes, spray foam or other insulation may be in order. Even small gaps over time can bring in or leak out a lot of air, so you'll want to know where gaps and leaks commonly occur and how to address them.
  • Around windows and doors- use caulking for parts that don’t move and weather-stripping for parts that do move.
  • Around built-in light fixtures, particularly on the ceiling- use caulking.
  • Around the attic door- use weather-stripping.
  • Gaps in the attic or basement- can be covered with caulking or foam if the leaks are too large.
  • Around plumbing as it enters a room- use caulking or foam.
  • Between the wall and the floor- use caulking.
  • Around electrical outlets, boxes, or other items cut into the wall- use caulking.

Remove window A/C units and cover your wall units. An uncovered wall unit air conditioner is like an open window to the outside. Wall unit air conditioners need to be sealed for the winter months for maximum insulation and heating efficiency. Simply covering the vents does little to prevent heat loss and drafts, as a wall unit has numerous openings to outside. Rather than just covering the vents for the winter, you'll see improved insulation if you also cover the unit from the outside. If you use window air conditioning units in the summer, remove them before the weather turns cold. If you must leave window A/C units in, cover the entire exterior of the unit with an insulating wrap to keep cold air out, in addition to covering the vents on the inside.

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.

Vacuum your refrigerator coils. When the coils are clogged with dirt and dust, they can't efficiently release heat. The result is your compressor works harder and longer than it was designed to, using more energy and shortening the life of your fridge. Clean the coils with a coil cleaning brush and vacuum.

Degrease your range hood filter. The following is the easiest method to degrease your filter. Here is what you’ll need: A stock pot (large enough to accommodate at least half your filter), Water, ½ Cup of baking soda. Fill your pot with water and bring it to a boil. Slowly add your baking soda, not more than a tablespoon at a time since it will cause the water to fizz up. Once all the baking soda is added, place your greasy range hood filter into the water and let it boil for a few minutes. Once you have boiled the whole thing, rinse it under hot tap water until the water runs clean. If there is still grease and grime trapped in the filter, refill your pot with fresh water and repeat the process.Finally, prop your clean range hood filter up and allow it to air dry for several hours. Once the filter is completely dry, replace it in your hood vent.

Porch and Deck: Check the supports, stairs, and railings on porches and decks. Make sure the hand rails can support someone slipping on snow or ice. Clean porch and deck furniture and look for any needed repairs. Cover and store outdoor furniture and barbecues in a protected area. Make sure all soil is emptied from pots and planters. Dirt left in clay pots will freeze and cause the pots to crack if left outside.