Fall is one of the most beautiful times of the year. The leaves turn vibrant colors, pumpkins and decorative corn husks adorn buildings, and the heat of the summer mellows into a comfortably moderate temperature. Fall is also a very important time for annual home maintenance. By taking care of your home’s critical features in the fall, you can assure yourself of energy efficiency, reliability of the systems you need, and of course, less stress in the coming winter.
Below, we’ll highlight which areas of the home need the most attention in the fall, and what you can do to keep everything running smoothly on into the winter.
- Clean the Gutters – After the leaves have fallen, clear out all muck and debris from your gutters. Run water through them to flush anything else out and to test for leaks and holes. If you live in a wooded area and your gutters are more prone to clogs, consider installing mesh covers on them, to prevent buildup of leaves. Clogged gutters are a primary factor in causing ice dams, which are deposits of ice on a roof in winter which can cause water to pool and eventually leak through the roof and insulation into your home. While you are up in the vicinity of the roof, it is also a good idea to inspect for missing or damaged shingles. Repair any such problems, as these could also result in leaks or water damage during the winter.
- Prepare the Driveway – Fall is a good time to check the condition of asphalt driveways. If there are cracks or surface damage, clean these out and fix them with driveway filler. When this is done, apply a coat of asphalt sealer. The harshness of the cold winter months and the frequent uses of salt tend to wreak havoc on asphalt. Ideally, your driveway should be in top condition before the snowy season, so that winter doesn’t exacerbate any pre-existing damage.
- Clear the Lawn and Foliage – Rake up the dense accumulation of leaves on your lawn. If you allow leaves to sit too long, moisture will compact them together, which can suffocate your lawn and invite insect problems. Don’t, however, let those leaves go to waste. Your leaf pile can be used for composting or mulch, or piled over your garden to create a protective blanket through the winter. Use the opportunity granted by a clear lawn to aerate and fertilize the area, and plant cool-season grasses. It is also a good time to fertilize turf grasses, so that when spring comes, your lawn will already be in good shape. Fall is also a good time to trim the branches of trees around your home, to prevent weak and dead limbs from falling under the weight of snow and ice during the winter months and causing damage to your property.
- Properly Store Cooling Devices – At the end of summer, remove window-mounted air conditioning units, thoroughly clean them, and store them in a dry place. For central air systems, vacuum the internal parts and be sure to cover the outdoor components with a tarp or specially designed cover. This will prevent rust damage through the winter.
- Check the Heat System – Don’t wait until winter to discover problems with your heat. Have your heating system checked by a professional in the fall. Regular maintenance will increase fuel efficiency and longevity. If your home has a woodstove or fireplace, check this too. It is a good idea, when applicable, to have your chimney swept before the winter wood-burning season. This will decrease your risk of a chimney fire, which is typically caused when an accumulated residue called creosote ignites in the chimney. Additionally, to help with energy efficiency, you must be sure that the heat you generate stays in your home. Check for drafts around windows and doorframes, and use caulk to fix problem spots.
- Reverse the Direction of Your Ceiling Fans – Remember to do this in the fall, so your fans will create an upward draft which distributes warm air throughout the area.
In spite of taking precautions to properly care for your property in advance of the winter months, damage can occur at any time from fire, water, and storms. Warren Cleaning and Restoration can help solve problems you encounter as a result of such damage. Our two family-owned and operated offices are located in Big Stone Gap, VA, and Hendersonville, NC, and we serve an approximate 2-hour radius from each.
You can also learn more about fire safety rules to secure your house.