Cold weather presents the perfect opportunity for fixtures to break, heating systems to fail and roofs to leak. So grab your clipboard and write down our list of must-do home maintenance tips for fall. You will be glad you did when temperatures dip below zero and your house hums like a fine-tuned engine!
Start With the Exterior
Temperatures are already cooling down at night here in Michigan, so before the outdoors are unbearable during the day, start with exterior maintenance. Many outdoor tasks require you to be an investigator of sorts, so put on some grubby clothes and grab your tool bag.
Preventing Pests and Tree Disease
With cold weather, you may also find yourself fighting pesky critters like mice. They love wiggling inside homes to stay warm. You can prevent this by closing pet doors, screening exterior vents, and sealing garage doors. If you still happen upon a stray mouse or two, set pet-friendly traps (no poisons) and check them every few days.
Check Your Roof
Your first point of scrutiny should be the roof. Whether sloped, flat, shingled, or aluminum, this is your home’s most crucial line of defense against the weather. A less-than-perfect roof allows water to get into the home. You need to keep your eyes peeled for problems with the shingles, specifically those that are loose or missing. If you find problems, call a professional to assess the damage and explain the repairs necessary. Don’t put off this critical task. It’s much easier to repair a roof before snow flies.
Clean Out Your Gutters
As we get deeper into fall, gutters will fill up with falling leaves and debris. Emptying them before winter (maybe more than once depending on how many trees you have around your home) is a crucial maintenance task. Build-up in the gutters causes them to not work properly, and once the snow piles on, the weight of leaves and ice may cause them to come tumbling down. Make sure your gutters are secure and give them a good clean!
Update Your Tools
Speaking of snow, prepare for the inevitable by gathering and inspecting the tools you need. Maybe it’s time to replace shovels and brooms before the winter rush increases prices. Also, check your stock of non-toxic ice melter and traction granules for sidewalks. Finally, take time to rev up the snowblower and ensure it’s in proper working order.
Winterize Equipment, Siding, and Outdoor Structures
Head out to your shed, barn or garage and winterize summer lawn equipment by draining gas and oil. If you plan to put a snowplow on your riding mower, make sure it has the right viscosity oil for cold winter months, that the gas tank is kept at least a quarter of the way full so gas lines don’t freeze, and that batteries and other fluids are checked. Otherwise, give mowers the same attention as leaf blowers, weed whackers, and chainsaws. Other summer equipment should be winterized and properly stored so it’s out of the elements and not in the way of your winter snow removal tools.
Examine barns and sheds for vulnerabilities to winter weather. If floors or walls are sagging, replace them with fresh plywood. Plywood sheets also come in handy for covering external basement vents during snowstorms. Store them in a safe, dry place and use them as necessary in winter months. When warm weather returns, don’t forget to remove them so your vents can breathe again.
With your hands already dirty, empty soil from outdoor pots and planters to prevent cracking. Fix loose deck rails and inspect your home and other structures for peeling paint. Spots with paint damage are susceptible to rot and fixing these issues is easy and inexpensive. All you need is a scraper, touch-up paint, and favorable weather.
Winterize Sprinklers and Outdoor Water Spigots
Winterization eliminates water from your sprinkler system to reduce the risk of cracks in PVC piping. Polyethylene pipes, while more flexible and often used in areas with cold weather, also rupture if a sprinkler system isn’t properly winterized. Simply draining the pipes isn’t enough because trace amounts of water can remain and damage the system. Your outdoor sprinkler system is tied to your indoor water supply. This means cracks in the back flow pipes could allow contaminated water into your home.
For an in-depth guide on how to winterize your sprinkler system yourself, as well as a list of trusted professionals that can do the job for you, read our comprehensive guide to Winterizing Your Sprinklers and Outdoor Water Outlets.
Move To The Interior
Now that you’ve taken advantage of the remaining warm Michigan weekends, you can move on to the inside tasks as we get into the later fall months. Aim to have your maintenance done before the end of October in case the busy Holiday season renders your weekends fully booked!
Don’t Forget The Furnace
He is hidden in your basement, out of sight out of mind, but if you neglect him your home and your wallet will surely pay the price! Call an HVAC specialist to give your Furnace and vents a thorough once over. They will clean or change the filter, check vents to ensure they are clear, and inspect the blower belt. This diligence will enable your furnace to run more efficiently which will reduce costly maintenance repairs in the future.
If you’d like to know which HVAC specialists we have worked with and would recommend contact us.
Reduce Fire Hazards
Vacuum indoor and outdoor dryer vents to reduce fire hazards. While you are at it, remove debris from around the dryer as well. It’s wise to perform this maintenance every six months to ensure debris build-up is kept to a minimum. Dryer lint is one of the most flammable objects in your home, so while it may seem like a menial task, it isn’t one you should put at the bottom of your list.
Don’t forget to replace batteries in smoke and carbon dioxide detectors throughout your home. It is also never a bad idea to keep a backup generator around in case another Polar Vortex renders Michiganders powerless yet again!
Get Your Chimney Cleaned
If you have a chimney, call a professional to have it cleaned. You might think you can do this job yourself, but we advise against that. The dirt and effort involved are beyond the realm of most homeowners’ capabilities. Skip the risks and pay for annual professional cleaning. A technician can quickly and efficiently remove soot, animals that may be calling your chimney home, and also inspect the fireplace for repairs.
Install Weather Stripping
A job you can easily do yourself is to install weather stripping around doors and windows. Also, caulk around windows and fill in any visible cracks. This will reduce heating costs and keep interior walls and windows free of moisture. If your windows are especially drafty, consider an easy-install window shrink wrap film, that takes the extra step to keep a cool winter draft out of your home.
Stock Up On Supplies Then Enjoy A Beautiful Michigan Fall
Fall is the perfect time to develop an emergency weather kit for you and your family. In addition to blankets, you should gather spare batteries, a battery-operated radio, and flashlights. Purchase a first-aid kit from the store and stock it with extra supplies like tweezers, scissors, and cleansing agents.
For food, think non-perishable items like dry cereal, canned fruits and vegetables, and granola bars. Also, consider the medication needs of family members, and store three gallons of water per person. Don’t forget your pets! They’ll also need extra food and water. Store your supplies in air-tight plastic containers where they are easily accessible.
Make sure you order the necessary firewood you will need for the winter as well.
If you have any questions about home maintenance or selecting contractors for your needs, please reach out to us. We maintain a list of highly qualified vetted contractors and are happy to refer them out to our friends, family, and clients. Finally, with your maintenance list complete, sit back and enjoy a warm cup of coffee or a Pumpkin Spice Latte by the fire because you know that your home will withstand whatever weather the upcoming Michigan winter throws your way! Please feel free to reach out to us anytime if you need help with your home maintenance.