Home Tips & Tricks

Fall and Winter Home Maintenance

posted by Travis November 30, 2016 0 comments

Fall is in full swing. If you haven’t gone through your seasonal home maintenance checklist, it’s time to get started. Here in the northern hemisphere, we have fewer hours of daylight and the mercury drops a little more each day as we march towards winter. For homeowners that can mean more energy consumption and higher utility bills. Not to worry. We’ve got you covered.

Make the Call

Instead of waiting for a reason to call your trusty HVAC maintenance and repair professional, give them a call now. Scheduling a checkup in advance will save you the headache and expense of an unexpected emergency appointment. Finding a problem before it becomes critical gives you time to plan financially for expensive parts or repairs.

With any service, it’s important to find the right person for the job. When looking for a service provider or contractor, many people rely on service and business review sites. Social networks like Facebook put you in touch with peers and members of your community. Nextdoor offers a forum where you can find out who your neighbors have had good experiences with. And, more importantly, who they haven’t.

Assess the Situation

The next step is to take care of outdoor maintenance while the weather is still fair.

First, perform an inspection of your home’s exterior. Look for gaps around windows, doors, aging caulk seals and anywhere two structures come together that should be sealed. Pay attention to utility boxes and areas where pipes penetrate through structures. Foam or other insulation can wear out, leaving gaps that allow weather and pests to enter your home. Use a screw driver to gently press against wood trim anywhere that water can collect. The screwdriver will easily penetrate rotten boards, identifying areas that need replacement.

Don’t forget to look in your attic. Pests like squirrels and other rodents only need a small opening to make a nice winter home in the less-traveled areas of your home. If you have a fireplace, have a look up the flue to make sure there are no blockages, and schedule a chimney cleaning service if necessary.

Stock Up on Supplies

After your inspection, fire up your Amazon or head down to your local home repair store and pick up any supplies you’ll need to get the job done. The list below represents common items you may need to purchase.

  • Silicon Caulk
  • Scraper
  • Paint
  • Foam backer rod
  • Door seals
  • Canned foam sealant

Out with the Old

If your exterior inspection revealed rotten wood around windows or door trim, you’ll need to deal with that first. Those that are handy with a saw, tape measure, hammer and nails can probably handle this task.

Make sure you choose the right type of lumber for the job. Or you’ll risk having trim that won’t take paint or a job that needs to be redone in a short period of time. Carpentry isn’t your forte? It may be time to reach out to your network again to find a reputable contractor to get the job done.

Weather can do a number on seals.You’ll need to use a scraper to remove old seals that have become brittle, cracked, shrunken or separated from the gaps they were meant to close. Removal of the old sealant is important to make sure the new seal is able to do a good job keeping the elements out.

In with the New

Once you’ve removed the old caulk, apply new silicon caulk intended for outdoor use, not acrylic. Silicon will maintain its flexibility over a longer period of time.

You can purchase it in a multitude of colors and even find paintable varieties. You’ll find appropriate applications as well is best practices within GE’s brief guide to sealing your home with caulk here. If you found a draft, now’s the time to replace the weather stripping around your door jamb. The door sweep sees a lot of use so it may need to be replaced as well.

After you’ve replaced worn out materials, you may want to apply a fresh coat of paint. The relatively low humidity and minimal temperature variation offer perfect painting conditions. Just be sure to keep an eye on the forecast. And consult your paint store professional to make sure the paint will cure with the expected overnight low temperature. It’s best to paint if temperatures don’t dip below the 50’s.

Yard Work

Fall is an important time to fertilize your lawn to guarantee a beautiful lawn next year.

Fertilizers high in phosphorus promotes strong root systems that thrive next spring. Many homeowners in southern regions will seed their lawn with winter ryegrass for a lush green lawn in the fall and winter months. This grass dies off when the weather warms back up, making way for heat tolerant grasses like bermuda. This is also the time to plant bulbs for next spring. Consider dividing spring and summer blooming perennials.

In general, the event that gives fall its namesake should be on your list for cleanup as well. As leaves pile up, they can smother your lawn. The best option, as it turns out, is mulching them. Take the bag off the mower and make a pass or two over the leaves. Do this as often as necessary. You should see your grass, not the leaves. The smaller pieces give your grass room to breathe and make a great fertilizer as they decompose. Clean any leaves or debris that have gathered in your gutters. Blocked gutters produce damaging, standing water that soaks into roofs and siding. Make sure those gutters are clean and that the water flows unobstructed.

Finally, the last outdoor maintenance chore before winter is to shut off and drain your sprinkler system. Sprinkler lines are often above the freeze line, so it’s important to empty them before the ground freezes for the winter.

Reap the Rewards

In summary, with all of the hard work done, what have you gained?

For starters, your home is going to pay you back for all of your work. And, if you’ve sealed up leaks around the exterior of your home, you’ll be using less energy to keep your home warm this winter. Which equates to less money spent on utilities and more money in your pocket.

Added bonus? If you scheduled maintenance on your heating and cooling system, you’ve potentially saved yourself the stress and expense of an unexpected breakdown. Let’s be honest. peace of mind for about $100 dollars sounds like a deal to me.

Last, you’ve added to your pride-in-ownership bank. That’s right, by doing a little maintenance, cleanup and preparation, you’ve invested yourself in your home. Most importantly, making it a place you can be proud to own and a place you look forward to being in for years to come. 

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