October is a great time to start preparing your home for the coming winter. It’s a good idea to get these fall maintenance items completed before the freezing temperatures set in. Many of these items are based on things I see during my home inspections and, if not corrected, they could lead to major issues down the road.
- Clean your gutters: Leaves and other debris in your gutter can build up over time resulting in water not draining. This can lead to water freezing in the gutter when the temperature drops. A frozen gutter results in ice and snow backing up into other parts of the roof and causing water damage later when it thaws.
- Check your roof: Inspect your roof for areas of damage and missing parts of shingles. If you find an excessive amount of shingle granules (like course sand) in your gutters, then look for bare spots on the shingles themselves. If you find bare spots, your roof is nearing the end of it’s useful life and it should be replaced soon (within the next year or two). Also, look for raised shingles due the nails beneath could be raising up or areas that have been wind damaged. These are locations where snow could get underneath the shingles potentially resulting in water damage.
- Put away your hose: Disconnect and put your hose away. Leaving your hose connected to the outside faucet during freezing temperatures could result in the hose and pipes freezing. If a frozen pipe ruptures it will cause a lot of water damage.
- Change your furnace filter: A dirty air filter on your furnace can decrease the effectiveness of your furnace. Changing your filter regularly can prolong the life of your furnace and save you in heating costs. Check the filter manufacturer’s recommend service interval. Depending on the filter, it might need to be changed/cleaned once a year or as often as once a month.
- Check seals around windows and doors: Walk around the outside of your home and look for gaps around windows and doors. Look closely at where the exterior siding meets the window/door frame. Use a caulk gun and exterior grade caulking to seal any gaps.
- Check for proper drainage around your house: Walk around the outside of your house and look for low spots next to the foundation. Fill any low spots with soil to help water run away from the house. Also ensure that your downspouts direct water at least 5 feet from the foundation of the house. Check out my blog post about downspout extensions for more information (Checking for Proper Downspout Drainage).
- Clean your chimney and fireplace: It’s a good idea to have your chimney swept once a year. Doing it at the beginning of the heating season can help ensure no animals have build a nest in the chimney. You should also take a look at the bricks in and around the fireplace; look for any larger cracks that could allow a hot ember to get through.
- Insulate water pipes: Water pipes along outside walls could be at risk freezing during the winter months. You can take preventative measures by insulating water pipes that are in the basement/crawl space and under sinks when the pipes are near an outside wall.
- Look for openings in the eaves: Look at all you roof edges and overhangs for holes and repair them. Holes can allow pests looking to escape the cool weather to access you attic.
- Check your attic insulation: Take a look in your attic for the amount of insulation you have. Having too little insulation can increase your energy bills substantially. Check out this guide from the US EPA Energy Star program for more information (DIY Attic Checks).
Taking a look at these fall maintenance items can save you a lot of money in energy costs now and repair costs down the road. There is no better time than now to get these things done.