Prepare your home for winter with this helpful maintenance guide from Porch.com
This article originally appeared on Porch.com
Written by Anne Reagan
November is full of autumnal celebrations, falling leaves and changing weather. For some regions, snow might already falling and winter wind storms threatening to knock out power. This is the right time of year to keep preparing your home for winter like purchasing snow supplies, testing your generator and keeping the gutters clear of leaves. Be sure to keep your home safe this fall by keeping up with your weekend projects and to-dos.
Inside the home
Call and schedule a plumber: The day after Thanksgiving is the busiest day for plumbers due to garbage disposal issues, clogged drains, dishwasher problems and toilet troubles. Do yourself a favor and schedule a plumber to come in and fix issues prior to the busy holiday.
Clean dryer vents and duct system: Thoroughly blowing out the dryer duct system is important to help make your appliance function better as well as reduce the risk of dryer fires. The incidences of this type of fire increases in the winter months so get this task done this month.
Test smoke alarms: Thanksgiving turkey dinners and distraction from entertaining guests mean more accidental cooking fires. Add to this the assortment of unattended candles and fires in the fireplace and you have a recipe for danger. Stock up on fire extinguishers and check the batteries in your alarms.
Get winter storm ready: November wind storms can easily knock out power. Check and replace the batteries in your flashlights and place them in easy-to-find areas of the home and service your backup generator system. While you’re at it, stock up on extra water and canned goods just in case.
Call and schedule a heating service pro: Make sure your heating unit is in good working order and change the filters every 3 months.
Add appropriate leftovers to the compost bin: Big meal preparations can often lead to valuable compost material. Check our composting tips here.
Outside the home
Purchase snow removal equipment: This is a great month to stock up on de-icers, shovels and other snow and ice equipment. If you regularly use a snow blower, be sure you have it serviced before the snow falls.
Call and schedule a gutter cleaner: November brings downed leaves, needles and branches which can quickly clog your gutters and downspouts. Protect your roof and foundation by having clear gutter drains. And make sure you use common sense when climbing your ladder – hire a pro if you can’t do this yourself.
Stock up on firewood: If your home has a wood-burning fireplace, make sure you have plenty of seasoned wood. Seasoned wood is wood that has been dry for at least a year. Unseasoned wood can produce more smoke or creosote buildup within the chimney.See our video about how to build the best fire in just 60 seconds.
Keep lawn clear of leaves: Continue to rake leaves and remove heavy, fallen branches off of the lawn this month as wet leaves can suffocate the grass blades. Rake leaves and compost them or use them as mulch around shrubs and bushes in the yard.
What's not to like about fall time in the Rogue Valley? Cool brisk morings, rain, colorful foliage…it's one of the most beautiful times on the year. In preparation for fall, check out this home maintenance checklist.
Here’s Your Fall Home Maintenance Checklist:
Fall is an ideal time to tackle maintenance projects both inside and outside. Here are a few ideas to get you started:
Gutters top to bottom: Water in the wrong spots can do a lot of damage. Start by ensuring that gutters and downspouts are doing their job. (Don’t attempt this task yourself if you have a two-story house with a steep roof; hire a professional instead.) If your home is surrounded by deciduous trees you may need to clean out your gutters a few times a year, especially in the fall. Check to make sure your gutters are flush with the roof and attached securely, repairing any areas that sag or where the water collects and overflows. Clean out the gutters and downspouts, checking that outlet strainers are in good shape, and are firmly in place. Finally, check that your downspouts direct water away from your house, not straight along the foundation.
If you haven’t already, you may want to consider installing gutter guards. Gutter guards create a barrier so water can get through to your gutters, but debris cannot, limiting gutter buildup (and the time you spend cleaning out your gutters). There are DIY installation kits available or you can always hire a professional to install a gutter guard system.
If you have a sump pump under your house, now is a good time to test it. Run a hose to be sure draining water travels directly to the pump (dig small trenches if needed), and that the pump removes the water efficiently and expels it well away from the foundation. For more information about how sump pumps work go to howstuffworks.com.
Check for leak: The best opportunity to catch leaks is the first heavy rain after a long dry spell, when roofing materials are contracted. Check the underside of the roof, looking for moisture on joints or insulation. Mark any spots that you find and then hire a roofing specialist to repair these leaks. What you don’t want to do is wait for leaks to show up on your ceiling. By then, insulation and sheet rock have been damaged and you could have a mold problem too.
Don’t forget the basement. Check your foundation for cracks, erosion, plants growing inside, broken windows, and gaps in window and door weathering. Make sure to properly seal any leaks while the weather is nice. This will ensure materials dry properly.
Pest Prevention: Rodents are determined and opportunistic, and they can do tremendous amounts of property damage (and endanger your family’s health). As temperatures cool, take measures to prevent roof rats and other critters from moving in. Branches that touch your house and overhang your roof are convenient on-ramps for invaders, so trip back branches so they’re at least four feet from the house. If you do hear scuttling overhead or discover rodent droppings in your attic, crawl space or basement, take immediate action. The website http://www.thisoldhouse.com has several helpful articles on the topic.
Maintain your heating and cooling systems: Preventative maintenance is especially crucial for your home’s heating and air-conditioning systems. Fall is a smart time to have your systems checked and tuned up if necessary. Don’t wait for extreme temperatures to arrive, when service companies are slammed with emergency calls. Between tune-ups, keeps your system performing optimally by cleaning and/or replacing air filters as needed.
If you have a wood-burning fireplace, a professional inspection and cleaning will help prevent potentially lethal chimney fires and carbon monoxide poisoning. Even if you don’t use your fireplace often, always keep a supply of dry firewood or sawdust-composite logs so you have a backup heat source in an emergency.
Insulate & seal: Insulating your home is a cost-efficient investment, whether you’re trying to keep the interior warm in the winter or cool in the summer. Aside from more major improvements like energy-efficient windows and insulation, there are some quick fixes that do-it-yourselfers can tackle. If an exterior door doesn’t have a snug seal when closed, replace the weather stripping; self-adhesive foam stripping is much simpler to install than traditional vinyl stripping. If there is a gap under the door (which can happen over time as a house settles), you may need to realign the door and replace the vinyl door bottom and/or door sweep. Air also sneaks inside through electrical outlets and light switches on exterior walls. Dye-cut foam outlet seals placed behind the wall plates are a quick and inexpensive solution.