You own a gorgeous new home, but a fall maintenance routine is essential for keeping it in peak condition. Here are ten must-dos during September, October and November.
Draining outside faucets in the fall prevents the possibility of water damage from a pipe bursting inside a wall. Shut off the basement valve on the outside pipe, then drain the faucet, leaving it open for the winter. Some basement valves have a small drain that lets you remove any water left in the outside pipe. Remember to also drain the faucet inside your garage and empty and store garden hoses.
Gutters plugged with leaves and other debris can’t carry water away from your home properly. The gutters overflow, potentially damaging your home. If you’re not comfortable on a ladder (and remember to do it safely!), check out gutter cleaning devices at building supply stores or call in a gutter cleaning company.
Window wells can’t drain correctly if leaves and other materials plug them. That can lead to a flooded basement. To prevent this, scoop out the debris and make sure the gravel in the well is about six inches below the window sill. Inexpensive plastic window well covers from a building materials store help protect against flooding as does grading that slopes away from your home.
Caulking and sealing
The windows and doors in your new Longwood home have been caulked and sealed to help prevent damaging moisture and chilly drafts from getting inside. But all materials have a limited lifespan, so a semi-annual check is smart, including the caulking around dryer and other vents. Caulking is an easy DIY project when you know how, or you could call a professional service.
To discourage mice and mould, clean your barbecue by burning and scraping off food residue, wiping down the outside and emptying the grease pan. A thin coating of cooking oil protects the grills and other metal parts against rust. Wrapping the burners in a plastic bag stops spider invasions. Most barbecues can be stored outside with a proper cover or in your garage. Never store propane tanks inside.
Do your snow shovels need replacing? How about your snowblower: has it been serviced and do you have fresh gas for it? Remember to stock up on ice melt that’s safe for pets and plants. And don’t forget about a home emergency kit in case we’re faced with an extended power blackout this winter.
When cleaning up your yard for the winter, leave some leaves, dead flowers and twigs so birds, insects and other wildlife can eat and shelter over the winter. When spring arrives, delay your cleanup so small creatures have something to eat and insects can emerge from winter dormancy at their own pace.
Heating & indoor air quality
If you haven’t had your annual furnace cleaning and inspection yet, don’t delay any longer. It helps ensure your heating equipment is safe, efficient and won’t break down on a frigid winter night. You also need to maintain your heat recovery ventilator (HRV) — it brings warmed fresh air into your home — and humidifier. Check your home owner’s manual for what you can do and what you need a pro to take care of.
Ground fault circuit interrupter (GFCI)
GFCI outlets protect you and your family against potentially fatal shocks in wet areas like bathrooms, laundry rooms and outside. You can identify them by the “test” and “reset” buttons. Check them monthly by pressing the “test” button. You should hear a snapping sound. Plug in a lamp or radio; if they don’t work, the GFCI is good and pushing “reset” will restore power. If the GFCI doesn’t work, call an electrician.
As one of the most-used and most-loved rooms in our home, kitchens need special care. This fall, degrease your range hood and wash or change the filter, clean your oven, and vacuum the refrigerator coils (especially if you have hair-shedding pets!). Your owner’s manual or YouTube will guide you on these tasks. While you’re at it, clean small appliances like your coffee maker and Instant Pot.