Fall is a favorite season for many. Hot, sticky days are replaced with cool, sunny breezes and the anticipation of holidays. Prepare your home for fall with the following maintenance checklist.
1. Have Your Heating System Serviced
Now is the time to have your heating system serviced or even upgraded. If you wait until the days turn chilly, HVAC companies will be busy. If your home has a furnace, you can clean it yourself. Shut off the system, remove the cover, vacuum the components with a hose attachment, and change the filter. No matter how you heat your home, have the system serviced by a professional. If you don’t already have a programmable thermostat, it’s a good time to install one. You’ll save money on your winter heating bills by scheduling the thermostat to lower when no one is home.
2. Prepare Your Home for Fall by Checking for Drafts
Heat loss through windows and cracks can cause uncomfortable drafts and a higher heating bill. The U.S. Department of Energy reports that heat loss through windows makes up between 25 and 30 percent of a home’s total energy loss. If your windows are older, consider having them replaced with energy-efficient ones. If that’s not in the budget, weatherstripping is simple, effective, and inexpensive.
Look for and seal cracks and gaps around electrical outlets, baseboards, window-mounted air conditioning units, attic hatches, dryer vents, doors, windows, and other places where cold air may seep in.
3. Clean and Reverse Ceiling Fans
Use a ceiling fan brush attached to an extension pole to rid your ceiling fans of accumulated dust. When the chilly days set in, use the switch on the side of the motor housing to reverse the blades to rotate from counterclockwise to clockwise. This way, the fans will draw warm air that has risen to the ceiling into the room.
4. Have the Fireplace and Chimney Inspected to Prepare Your Home for Fall
If you have a wood-burning fireplace, prepare your home for fall with a good fireplace cleaning and chimney inspection from a professional. Sweep away cobwebs and dust and clean the fireplace walls with soapy water and a scrub brush.
Chimneys should be inspected every year or so depending on how often you use the fireplace. A certified chimney sweep can look for damage, nesting animals, and remove flammable creosote build-up.
5. Change Batteries in Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Detectors
Prepare your home for fall by making sure smoke and carbon detectors are functioning properly. Did you change the batteries during spring cleaning? If not, do it this fall. Batteries should be changed once a year and the devices themselves should be replaced every 10 years.
6. Clean and Check the Gutters to Prepare Your Home for Fall
Fall brings leaves, sticks, and pinecones down from surrounding trees. This debris clogs the gutters, which causes problems. Prepare your home for fall by clearing your gutters of leftover refuse from summer storms. Use this time to reattach and make any repairs necessary before winter’s snow and ice takes their toll on them. If your gutters are in terrible shape, replace them.
7. Prepare Your Home’s Exterior
Now is the time to bring your porch and deck furniture inside. If you leave it outdoors in harsh winter weather, it will need to be replaced soon. If you can’t store it in the garage or basement, use waterproof furniture covers.
Disconnect and drain garden hoses to prevent burst pipes when freezing temperatures come. Add foam pipe insulation to exposed pipes.
Trim overhanging limbs from trees. Branches laden with ice can fall and damage your roof.