Fall Maintenance Tips
Is Your Home Ready for Winter?
As temperatures start to cool and the leaves start falling in October, this is the perfect time to prepare your home and yard/garden areas for the onset of winter weather. The steps that you take now to prepare will save you from unanticipated surprises when conditions are not ideal.
HOME EXTERIOR READINESS
The combined effects of last season’s winter and summer can result in new cracks at siding joints and other penetrations that need attention. This is the time to re-caulk around doors and window frames and where other items such as pipes or wires enter the home. Don’t forget to recheck siding butt joints where adjacent pieces of siding meet and end at corner boards. Fixing these areas will not only prevent heat loss but most importantly, prevent moisture from entering and causing more serious deterioration and damage. Check also for any peeling or blistering paint and prepare and repaint these areas now before the heavy winter moisture arrives.
A thorough roof inspection is vital to insure that there are no missing or loose shingles. If you have a metal roof, this is also a good time to check for missing or loose flashing and screws holding these in place. Also check the conditions of any special flashings, caulking or sealants around all roof penetrations. In areas with heavy snow, check that no plumbing vent pipes were broken off from last year’s storms. If you have snow brakes on your roof, you want to make sure these are properly secured and still in place. For those with de-icing roof cables, now is the time to make sure these are working and properly attached to the roof.
Inspect all gutters and downspouts for debris and clean out accordingly. It is important for any water runoff and snow melt to not dam up thereby allowing water to migrate under the roofing materials causing serious structural damage.
You want to clean and replace all furnace filters and have your heating system properly serviced by a licensed contractor. Proper maintenance is important to maintain efficiency and longevity of this critical system. Inspect all weatherstripping including seals at door bottoms for integrity and replace as needed. These keep the cold wind and moisture out of your home while reducing your energy bills.
Gaps between your foundation and siding or other building materials and crawl space or attic vents that are missing screens will allow rodents to take up shelter in your interior spaces and crawl spaces. Mice can enter holes the size of a dime. Their activity peaks during the fall as they return to their indoor nests when temperatures decline. Loose weatherstripping and gaps around garage vehicle doors are also common entry points.
If your home will be unattended or vacant during the winter, this is also the time to make sure you have a qualified person frequently checking on the conditions of your property. Severe temperatures, ice dams and storm damage can result in expensive repairs to your home if not addressed quickly. Rodent droppings are not something you want to come back to your home and find. Many homeowner insurance policies require the homeowner to take immediate steps to mitigate any further damage once something happens. This is difficult to do if you many miles away.
Your grass needs a good application of a slow release fertilizer to provide the nutrients needed to survive the winter. You should continue watering and mowing until growth has stopped and dormancy has taken over. This is also the perfect time to plant fall plants for additional color such as kale, mums and pansies. Once temperatures start to dip down toward freezing, you need to then winterize all underground irrigation systems and blow out all water hoses with compressed air and store away. Don’t forget to also cover and insulate any exposed water hose faucets on the outside of your home. If you have an interior water shut off to these, shut these off and then drain and blow out these water lines with compressed air also.
As the leaves fall, continue to rake these up so they don’t damage lawn areas or clog yard or storm drains. This is also the best time to do heavy pruning of trees and shrubs as these start to go into their dormant stages. If you live in areas where deer are a nuisance, you can cover plants with netting or chicken wire to protect these.
If you have asphalt driveways that have cracks, you will want to clean these and seal now to prevent moisture from getting under the asphalt and then freezing later resulting in potholes and frost heave damage.
For those with pools and covers, you will want to inspect these and repair any damage or replace if necessary. Cover pumps should also be checked for proper operation and all cords and plugs should be in good condition.
Don’t forget to properly clean and store your garden equipment; change the oil and drain any fuel from pressure washers, lawn mowers, leaf blowers, etc. and get any snow equipment ready and in working order. This is good time to clean, store or cover all outdoor furniture and barbecues or at least move these to areas protected from the elements.
Fall is a good time to also replace all batteries in smoke and carbon monoxide detectors and clean the exterior of these devices to prevent false alarms. Check the conditions and dates on all fire extinguishers to make sure these are fully charged and not expired.
Reverse the direction of any ceiling paddle fans to create an updraft that will then push the warm trapped air from the ceiling back down for comfort and efficiency. Clean and ready any humidifiers and maintain clean water to prevent bacteria from misting into living spaces.
Remove covers on electrical outlets and switch plates and install insulated gaskets to help reduce drafts and energy loss. Check double pane insulated windows for no moisture/condensation between panes indicating loss of seal. The layer of air or gas between the two panes acts as insulation to reduce energy loss.
Pay special attention to the migration of other pests into the home such as spiders and ants which frequently occurs with declining temperatures.
YOUR S.W.A.T TEAM
One of the services that we perform at Lake Chelan HomeWatch is the visual inspection of your home and grounds and making sure your property is ready for the winter. In addition to inspection, we can complete the needed tasks so you don’t need to be here. We can coordinate and schedule subcontractors to complete end of season fertilization, pest control and HVAC service and any other tasks that require attention.
During the winter, we continue to monitor your home and we have special tools that allow us to remove heavy snow thereby relieving structural stresses on roofs and gutters. We also inspect for any damage caused by severe weather and we take steps to immediately protect your property and notify you.