Fall yard and home maintenance is a pivotal moment in the colder months. The beginning of autumn in our part of the country spells the time for seasonal transition, moving our entertainment and lifestyle more indoors. Now is the time to book service appointments for your fireplace or furnace and make sure all are in good working order. In addition to professional servicing, we have some easy maintenance tips you can do yourself to make sure you are getting your home ready for winter.
Inside Fall Maintenance
Do not neglect the inside of your home when you are prepping for fall and winter. Check and replace batteries (if applicable) of carbon monoxide alarms and smoke alarms and inspect your fire extinguishers to make sure they are still viable. Make sure all family members know where fire extinguishers are kept.
Check for air leaks and potential heat loss within the home. Unwanted drafts can lead to a more expensive heating bill over the winter, so use these tips to get started.
- Locate air leaks: check for air drafts behind outlets, around windows and doors, and behind recessed lights. Other areas to check are your ventilation system and fireplace chimneys.
- Check attics and basements: these spaces are typical problem areas for energy loss. Inspect these areas for loss of air, insulation, or other issues like mold. Dirty insulation is often a sign of air leakage.
- Seal leaks: Properly sealing against air leaks will help your heating costs in check.
Schedule Air Conditioner or Heating Tune-up
Just as your air conditioner works hard during the summer, your heater labors during the colder months to keep you comfortable. Nip any future problems in the bud by scheduling a fall checkup for your heating system. Ask your repair professional to check for any air leaks and/or heat loss. Make any repairs needed now, and not in frigid temperatures later when furnace repair professionals are in more demand.
Ready your Fireplace for Winter
Your fireplace should be a source of warmth and comfort, not a danger hazard. Unfortunately, every year thousands of people (including children) are seriously injured by fires. Some 14,000 house fires each year originate in the fireplace, so the more you know how to maintain your fireplace (and safely use it) the better. Fireplace safety tips include:
- Have your fireplace inspected each year by a professional, especially if your fireplace is wood burning
- Clear the area around the hearth and make sure it is free of flammable materials
- Use only seasoned hardwood—softwood creates more creosote buildup in the chimney
- Always use a screen around the fireplace to catch sparks
As we live in a northern climate, check the insulation around your pipes before cold weather arrives. Exposed pipes in unheated spaces like crawl spaces or near exterior walls can freeze and burst, flooding your home. Making sure pipes are insulated can help prevent this. Foam pipe sleeves are easy to install, and you can also use pipe wrap. You can also add wall insulation, use faucet covers on your outdoor spigots, and insulate the space where pipes go through walls.
After you have addressed insulation for your pipes, look at the insulation under your home and in the attic. Adding or upgrading your insulation is another great way to ensure your home is operating efficiently this winter and can help reduce your monthly heating bills.
Do it Yourself or Hire a Pro?
Are you a do-it-yourselfer, or would it make more sense to hire a professional for some of the winter prep jobs? Consider the value of your time and the expertise of someone else. Are you working too many hours to cannot comfortably spend the time needed for the repair or maintenance? Do you have the tools? The skills? If not, maybe it is time to call in the professionals for a job well done.
Make a List
Having a running list of fall yard and home maintenance tasks may help you keep on top of everything you need to accomplish during the weekends or when you have time available. For instance, your list may look like this:
- Schedule home cleaning
- Prep and clean fireplace
- Check for air leaks in the attic and basement
- Consider improving insulation
- Schedule maintenance or repairs from professionals
- Hire a heating service professional to assess your home’s potential heat loss
- Schedule a chimney sweep to inspect the fireplace and ensure safety
Prepare Now for Peace of Mind Later
As you snuggle up in front of your fireplace this winter, warm and cozy, you will be glad you spent some extra time preparing your home this fall. A little work this fall repairing and maintaining your home will result in an abundance of peace of mind later. With preventive maintenance, you will have cut down on the chances of frantically searching for—and waiting for—an emergency furnace repairman. Instead, you will enjoy your warm home and look forward to each season’s delights and challenges.
Make sure to check out part 1 of our Ultimate Guide To Fall Yard And Home Maintenance!
Adapted from an article originally posted on Porch.com