EXTERIOR FALL HOME MAINTENANCE CHECKLIST
In the fall, homeowners are closing down summer’s outdoor landscape, decorative, and comfort items to protect them from the upcoming harsh seasons. In the winter, the wind blows harder than during any other time of the year. Freezing water can break apart concrete and metal pipes, gutters, and downspouts. The freeze / thaw cycle is also damaging - and is worse in some areas rather than in others. Your home and its possessions can be protected by following a few guidelines. Our recommendation is that our system is a starting point for the development of a customized checklist that will be used for your specific home for many years to come.
Summer’s fun by way of the swimming pool will need to be closed down so that its enjoyment can safely resume the following year.
· Purchase a winterizing kit and follow its recommendations.
· Reduce the pool’s water level, unhook and drain pipes.
· Make sure a cover is placed snuggly over the opening.
· Service and clean your furnace and filters
No matter when you choose to close down the barbecue, a yearly cleaning, maintenance, and storage schedule will prolong your barbecue’s lifespan.
· Clean the grill either by turning on the barbecue’s heat and scrub with a wire brush or consider putting the racks into a self-cleaning oven.
· Clean the briquettes and burners and replace them if necessary.
· Store the propane tank in a safe area.
· Cover the barbeque for the winter or store it in a shed.
Weeding and tilling the garden for the winter months helps to ensure the ground will be ready for preparations during the following spring. Some homeowners, however, have planned perennial areas that will not need to be tilled or reseeded for next year.
· Prune dead wood and water shoots from the property’s trees.
· Most importantly, remove dangerous tree branches that could break off and damage property if the wind should be strong or if there should be an ice storm.
Gather up various summertime items, clean and store them.
· Clean and store outdoor furniture.
· Don’t forget to clean and maintain tools such as lawnmowers and other motorized tools. Some lawnmowers have a new feature on the hood where you can attach either a garden hose or a pressure-washer so that it will clean the clippings off from underneath the hood.
· Remember to turn off your fountains and store if portable.
PREPARE FOR WINTER
Prepare exterior water faucets and spigots for the upcoming cold months.
· Remove all outdoor garden hoses, drain and store.
· Turn off all exterior spigots so that water left in the pipes does not freeze and break the pipes.
· This is the time to consider replacing spigots with freeze-proof faucets if desired.
Prepare during these months for upcoming icy weather and keep in mind that many severe personal and vehicular accidents are caused by ice.
· Take time to ensure that your household is equipped with sufficient shovels and de-icing salt.
· Consider purchasing a snowblower.
· To maintain the snowblower, test it to see if it runs, check spark plugs, replace gas filters, and take it to a professional for a tune-up if necessary.
If a home is in a region that tends to have a lot of ice and snow, ice guards and perhaps a roof ice melting system may be an appropriate improvement for the upcoming winter.
· Think about past recent years and whether or not mounting snow and ice on the roof has caused damage. If so, there are systems that can prevent further damage for the upcoming years.
Drafty doors and windows are typically the biggest culprits with regard to a home’s heating system overrunning.
· Begin this process by evaluating where the drafts are located.
· Contracting a professional to do a blow-test may also be beneficial.
· Then replace the weatherstripping and caulking where needed.
· A more aggressive option would be to replace the door and window units with more energy efficient options.
Repair your driveway before it needs to be replaced.
· Keep in mind that de-icing salts and an area that has severe freeze / thaw cycles will be most damaging to its surface.
· Begin maintenance by repairing cracks and sealing the surface with DIY products.
· If the driveway is questionable, consider having a professional evaluate whether or not the driveway can be resurfaced before needing to pay for a complete replacement.
Up-keeping the roof is an important safeguard against hidden water damage.
· Occasionally, an insurance company that protects your home can do a random review and request that an older roof be replaced within 30 days.
· Regularly checking for leaks that may show up on the structure’s underside.
· Replace shingles as they become damaged. Keep in mind that shingles have manufacturer’s recommended replacement schedules.
Often overlooked, a chimney also requires regular maintenance to prepare for the new warming season.
· Tuckpoint the exterior brick to prevent significant damage and possible collapse.
· Hire a professional to sweep the chimney.
· If not already installed, purchase caps to prevent pests and debris from entering the home.
Exterior brick surfaces on any façade of the home should be cleaned with a pressure-washer and then tuckpointed where grout has broken out and crumbled.
· Take care to select the correct type of grout for both your particular home and for your weather region as the mixtures do vary.
· Then, think about the color and make efforts to best match the existing grout.
· If in doubt, consider hiring a professional.
Take time to walk around the perimeter of your home in particular after it rains to see if there are any areas where there is standing water.
· If so, take time to cover the cracks in the sidewalks and around the foundation.
· If the sidewalks slant toward the home, then consider replacing them so that they have a more appropriate slant away from the home’s foundation.
Gutters and downspouts direct water away from the home.
· Check each piece to make sure it is secured tightly to the building.
· Run water down from the gutters and watch to see if it comes smoothly down through the downspouts.
· If there are clogs, they should therefore be removed before the water backs up and causes damage.
· If there are leaks along the path, cracks can be repaired with a fresh bead of caulk.
· As there are many different kinds of caulk, verify to make sure the correct type is purchased.
FALL-TIME IMPROVEMENT PROJECT IDEAS
Garages characteristically gather stored items that can always be better organized.
· Consider purchasing a new more efficient organizational system.
· Fall may be a nice time to think about building a tool work bench.
· The home’s security could be improved through installing a motion sensor garage flood light.
Fundamental household items such as exterior trash containers could be concealed by building a new outdoor structure to house them.
· Perhaps a new garden shed could be used to contain a variety of exterior tools, newly purchased summer furniture, and other similar items.
· Starting a composting system is a positive green improvement.
The months leading up to winter are a key landscaping season.
· Remember to plan for leaves by purchasing leaf bags and rakes. Leaves left on the lawn for too long could damage grass roots.
· Also consider using leaves as mulch by grounding them up with the lawnmower.
· Fall is the opportune time to seed a new lawn.
· Check specifications related to specific shrubs and trees that you may consider planting during this season.
GENERAL EXTERIOR FALL RECOMMENDATIONS
When the projects go beyond DIY, hiring professionals is a safe choice.
· Take care to verify that the professional is licensed, bonded, and insured. If an accident should occur on your property and the professional is not insured, your homeowner’s insurance policy would be liable to cover the costs.
· Make it a rule of thumb to get three quotes from three different professional companies before hiring one of them.
· Always ask the professionals a lot of questions about their materials and methods when doing your research.
Remember “safety first” for all projects whether small or large.
· Take precautions when climbing tall ladders and when working on the roof.
· When in doubt, hire a professional for projects that are considered a little more dangerous.
· Always wear eye and ear protection.
· Read all instructions and warranty details for all newly materials and items. Keep these in a safe file and send in warranty cards.
· Keep in mind that a building permit is designed to protect the occupants’ safety. Contact your local building department for a permit. They will review your plans so that they pass up-to-date code requirements and they come out to review your work to verify that it is safely constructed.
As always, consider sustainability when planning and purchasing materials for each project.
· Keeping the home’s mechanical systems at the height of their efficiency is important.
· When taking care of leaves, consider using a rake rather than a leaf blower because they cause noise pollution and are not proven to make leaf raking any faster.