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When it comes to home maintenance, the cost of restoring often exceeds preventative care. And that’s because what may be only a small problem now could become a big one later. By doing some preventative maintenance in the fall, you can prevent any minor problems from becoming a major headache in the winter or next spring.

Cleaning the eave troughs in the fall, for example, can prevent ice damming in the winter, where moisture is forced up under the roof’s shingles during winter’s freeze-thaw cycles. Roofing contractors are always busy in the spring, fixing damage and leaks that have occurred because of ice damming.

Neglecting to clear a leaf-choked gutter could result in wood rot and the spread of mildew. A poorly maintained heating system may eventually spew toxic fumes or stop working entirely on a cold day. And cracks in walls and windows (besides creating nasty drafts) are an open invitation to pests and water.

Here are some home maintenance jobs that should be on a homeowner’s winterizing checklist:

Home maintenance1. Clean eave troughs after the last leaves have fallen. Check for leaking or damaged gutters, downspouts and hangers. Caulk leaking seams and make sure pop rivets are secure. Run a garden hose to make sure they are draining properly and that the downspouts are operating and directed away from the home’s foundation walls.

2. Check the roof for signs of trouble such as broken or missing shingles, cracked, buckling or curling shingles, or bare spots where the granular coating has worn off. An aging roof can really be trouble in winter. Check flashing around vents, skylights and chimneys. Look for pieces that have peeled back and for cracked caulking that could allow moisture penetration.

3. Have the chimney cleaned if you burn wood and check its exterior structure. Worn flashing, loose bricks or crumbling mortar are sure signs trouble is not far away.

4. Make sure your fireplace is in safe working order. Check that the damper opens and closes smoothly and fits properly to prevent heat loss. Having glass doors installed is even better for preventing heat loss. Check inside the fireplace to make sure no bricks are loose or broken. If your fireplace is smoking excessively, make sure the chimney is clear (see point #3). Installing a chimney cap can cure a smoking fireplace by improving the draft.

Home maintenance5. Have your furnace cleaned, inspected and safety checked. Make sure you change the filter so you have the greatest efficiency during the heating months.

6. Check for blockage of attic vents. Wasp’s have a nasty habit of building their nests here. Any venting in winter is very important. Also make sure you block any opening squirrels have made in the soffit with sheet metal, wire screen or wood to prevent animals from nesting there in the winter.

7. Remove and store your window air conditioner. Be sure to clean the coils and filters and cover loosely for the winter. If you are leaving the air conditioner in the window, (not recommended) put a weatherproof cover over it to protect it during the winter.

8. Clean your lawnmower and other garden tools before storing. Clean caked-on grass and debris. By giving all the metal parts of your tools a wipe with an oiled rag you can prevent them from rusting. Drain the fuel from gas-powered machines and run the engine until the lines are clear. This is something that can save you from having to have it tuned up in the spring.

Home maintenance9. Check doors and windows for proper caulking and weather stripping. Don’t forget to check the bottoms of doors for a snug threshold seal or door sweep. By doing a draft test, (holding a lit candle along the seams of doors and windows) you can detect where you still need to do some work. A flickering flame means your heating dollars are going out the window.

10. Make sure you drain all exterior water lines, hose bibs, sprinklers, and pool equipment before the first major freeze. Caulk around pipes where they enter the house.

11. If you are not going to use it during the winter clean your barbecue and store it in a protected place. Never store propane tanks indoors.

12. Clean patio furniture and store, loosely covered, in a dry place.

13. By washing your windows in the fall you will let in the maximum heat and light during cold winter days.

Doing your fall chores can make your life easier come spring, when you would rather be fishing than fixing winter damage. Annual fall maintenance is more than convenience; it’s also a smart investment strategy.

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4 Responses to “Home maintenance in the fall”

Great post and very timely. you have a really good blog here. I’ll be back.

air conditioner is always a necessity at home:’~

our garden tools are always made by Stanley Tools because they are the best when it comes to quality and durability“,

most modern air conditioners are not guzzlers of electricity and are energy star certified _