8 fall home maintenance tips to prepare for winter
By following these fall home maintenance tips over the next few weeks, you’ll accomplish a lot to prepare your home for winter’s cooler temperatures.
1. Get to those gutters
While the changing colors of the season provide incredible scenery, falling leaves can harm your home’s interior and exterior. Water doesn’t flow down and away from your home when leaves and debris clog gutters and downspouts. This excess water buildup can cause water damage, mold growth, a flooded basement and a leaky roof. The Home Depot® recommends following these steps to clean your gutters in the spring and fall.
- Clear out leaves and other debris.
- Remove and clean the downspout strainer.
- Flush any remaining bits and dirt from the gutter with a garden hose.
- Cover with gutter guards to keep debris from returning.
2. Mind the gaps
Windows and doors act as a barrier to wind, heat and cold. As a result, warm air escapes, and cold air gets in through gaps in windows and doors. To reduce the energy lost, you can update your windows with caulking and weatherstripping, add storm windows or install exterior blinds.As a current homeowner or new homebuyer, you may be eligible to finance improvements with an energy-efficient mortgage option. These programs can help finance energy-efficient windows, new doors and additional insulation.
3. Add insulation
Insulation is a sound investment to reduce heating while improving comfort during colder months—and it doesn’t just belong in an attic. To make your home more energy-efficient, the U.S. Department of Energy recommends taking a top-down approach, insulating from the roof down to the foundation.
4. Winterize sprinklers and pipes
Learning how to winterize a sprinkler system and your home’s water pipes is essential if you live in an area where the temperature drops below freezing. To protect pipes from freezing, the American Red Cross recommends the following steps:
- Drain water from sprinkler supply lines following the manufacturer’s directions.
- Remove, drain, and store hoses used outdoors. Close inside valves supplying outdoor hose bibs. Open the outside hose bibs to allow water to drain. Keep the outside valve open so that any water remaining in the pipe can expand without causing the line to break.
- Insulate hot and cold water pipes where water supply lines are located in unheated areas.
5. Check your HVAC system
The last thing you want is to find out in the middle of winter that your HVAC system requires repair. So, be sure to add these tasks to your fall home maintenance checklist.
- Change your furnace filter before you turn on your furnace this winter. Better Homes & Gardens recommends monthly cleaning to keep your filter free of dust and debris using a soft brush on a vacuum cleaner.
- Family Handyman advises scheduling an appointment to have a system tune-up by a professional once a year unless you don’t use your furnace and AC much. Furnace maintenance usually includes cleaning components, checking and clearing the condensate lines, doing a temperature test, analyzing the exhaust and checking the ignitor and flame sensor for wear.
6. Inspect your detectors
According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), “heating, holiday decorations, winter storms and candles all contribute to an increased risk of fire during the winter months.” Working smoke alarms give you early warning so you can get outside quickly.
The NFPA instructs you to be fire smart by installing smoke alarms in every bedroom, outside each sleeping area and on every level of the home. Test all smoke alarms once per month by pressing the test button to ensure the alarm is working. Replace all smoke alarms when they are ten years old. Similarly, carbon monoxide alarms should be installed in a central location outside each sleeping area, on every level of the home, and in other areas, as required by applicable laws, codes or standards. Along with your smoke alarms, test CO alarms once a month and replace them according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
7. Clean your chimney
After a cold day outside, nothing beats a cozy evening by the fire. But before you light a fire this fall, check out these maintenance tips for your chimney.
- Open the flue for adequate ventilation.
- Cap your chimney to keep out rain, birds and debris from entering.
- Have your chimney cleaned and inspected for creosote buildup and damage once a year, as instructed by the NFPA.
8. Tackle your yard
These fall home maintenance tips from Consumer Reports may protect your landscaping from the elements, depending on your location.
- Fertilize cool-season grasses.
- Aerate or dethatch at least one month before the first frost.
- Cut grass until it stops growing.
Cost savings from accomplishing fall home maintenance tips
Just like changing the oil in your car, preventive maintenance on a home can save you money in the long run. Burst pipes, roof repairs and water damage can be very costly to fix, so it’s essential to tackle these fall home maintenance tips sooner rather than later.
Regardless of the season, home maintenance and upgrades like installing a new heating system, replacing new windows and doors and adding insulation can reduce utility costs, which helps lower your monthly expenses. This could also make your energy-efficient home more affordable in the long run.
Guild Mortgage offers energy-efficient mortgage programs which allow you to bundle the usual upfront costs of certain energy-efficient upgrades into your mortgage so that you can spread these costs over the life of the loan. Connect with a loan officer today to discuss the financing options for energy-efficient upgrades. Find one of our branches near you, and let’s talk.