Fall is the perfect time to take stock of maintenance items inside and outside of your home. These are often chores easily put off, but the money saved on electricity, heating and repairs down the road make these to-do’s worth the time and money well spent.
Here’s a list of common fall home maintenance items as well as a few that often get overlooked.
Heating and air conditioning
You will reap the benefits of having regular maintenance, especially doing service in the fall and spring. Filters should be changed each time to allow for your HVAC system to work efficiently. This is also a good time to ensure your heat will work when the cold weather kicks in or to check your air conditioning for when the temperatures rises in the spring. If you maintain your HVAC system, it can often last up to 20 years, but most systems typically last between 10 to 15 years. Changing filters in between service calls is also a good idea as it picks up on airborne particles for cleaner air and helps to keep your HVAC system working at top efficiency.
Reverse your ceiling fans
To save money on heat in the winter, adjust your fans so they turn clockwise. This stops the warm air from rising and keeps the heat down where you want it. Ceiling fans have a switch that allows you to reverse the fan direction. If It’s not on the outside, you may need to locate the switch inside the fan.
Saving energy costs
Weatherproofing windows and doors – Windows and doors can be two of the biggest culprits for heat loss. To get ahead of the cold weather, check your doors and windows for gaps that may cause a draft. Weatherstripping or caulking are great fixes unless the gap or draft is more severe – then you may need to replace the window and frame. A great trick for windows is to hold a flame (lit candle or lighter) close to the window. If the flame is straight, then the window is well sealed. If it’s not, then you have a window draft and therefore will lose heat over the winter months. To check for drafts around your doors, simply run the back of your hand around the frame of the door and feel for any cold spots.
Energy audit – If you have never had an energy audit, also known as a home energy assessment, get one! It’s a great investment and helps you save energy and money on your energy bills. An energy audit will identify any leaks inside and out, through gaps in your flooring, ceiling or walls. It also can identify heat loss through poor insulation. An energy audit and safe-guarding your home from heat loss can save up to 30 per cent on your energy bills.
Smoke and carbon monoxide detectors
When we are switching on the furnace and having indoor fires, all the while having our homes sealed up tight for warmth, carbon monoxide becomes a concern. Daylight saving time is November 1 and a good time to check all your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors, check all of the batteries, and make sure they are in good working order.
Clean out your dryer hose
Clogged dryer hoses are a huge fire hazard. Cleaning your lint filter after every load is necessary as is inspecting the vent and hose every six months. Cleaning or replacing your dryer hose should be done annually.
Hot water tank
Often forgotten, but checking for cracks every year as well as the age of your hot water tank could save you from an unwanted flood. Hot water tanks typically have a lifespan of eight to 12 years.
Gutters and downspouts
Look up and down. Your gutters and downspouts need attention.
Gutters: Once the leaves are off the trees, it’s a great time to clean out those gutters. If your gutters get clogged, they will back up and overflow down your exterior walls. This will speed up the weathering of your exterior and can also create deterioration of your foundation. Water also has a way of creeping into and under your concrete porches or walkways which will cause lift and cracking, and it can also find its way into your basement.
Downspouts: It’s important that water that is coming across your gutters and down your drain spouts is getting moved away from the home. A few things to watch for:
- Soil hasn’t settled around your foundation so that water won’t pool around the foundation.
- Look for low spots and fill them in. Conversely, if you find high spots, level them out. When soil gets wet around a foundation, then freezes and thaws over the winter months, it can cause a lot of headaches.
- Consider adding downspout extenders to ensure water is moving away from your foundation.
Exterior wood protection and hard surfaces
- Paint, caulk and seal exterior wood trim so they are protected from the outdoor elements. This typically includes the wood trim around your doors and windows. Window and door trim can be expensive and labour intensive to replace, so by keeping it caulked and painted, you will avoid the costly replacement.
- Decks are typically made of pressure treated or rot-resistant wood, but they still need some TLC and protection. Test whether you need to stain or seal your deck by pouring water on it. If the water beads up, then you’re in good shape. If the wood absorbs the water, then it’s time to clean and seal your deck.
- Concrete patios, driveways and walkways need protection too. Every so often a concrete sealer should be applied. If there are cracks, fill them in before applying any sealer so water can’t seep in and freeze over winter.
- Asphalt driveways should be sealed every one to three years. You can do it yourself or have a company come and spray on sealer. Be sure to patch any cracks before sealing.
Annual chimney inspection
Before you build your first fire, have your fireplace cleaned and inspected. Hire a chimney sweep company to make sure the fireplace is safe to use. They will check your flue on your chimney to make sure it is fully functional so you don’t get drafts when you’re not using it. They will also identify maintenance problems like cracks and signs of wear in the lining.
Having yearly chimney inspections could also save your life! Clogged chimneys can lead to house fires, and they can also cause carbon monoxide poisoning. Last but not least, don’t forget to order a load of firewood too so you can enjoy fires all season long. Stack and cover the wood away from your home and make sure there are no rotten pieces.
Critter-proof your attic
When it gets cold out, your attic makes the perfect winter escape for small animals. These animals can cause a lot of damage and in some cases cause health problems. Keep branches trimmed and away from the house and all your outside vents, including chimney vents, are intact and covered properly. As an added safety precaution, tack up mesh screening behind your gable vent.
Checking these off your fall home maintenance to-do list will have you safe and warm and keep money in your pocket during the winter months.