As the leaves begin to change colors, I’m starting to think about preparing my home for the fall season. I thought I would share my own personal maintenance tasks that ensure my home is a happy, healthy place for my family.
A) Gutters and downspouts
Start by visually inspecting the gutters to make sure they are secure and tight against the fascia. If a gap exists it’s common for water to become trapped behind the gutter tray and wood fascia, often resulting in hidden water damage. Therefore, it’s important to secure by either tapping the existing gutter spikes with a hammer or drive additional galvanized fasteners as needed. Inspect the downspouts as well, gently try to move the downspouts as you walk around the perimeter of the home. If any are loose, then properly secure by either tightening the existing fasteners or add additional downspout straps as necessary. Loose downspouts are susceptible to wind damage during storms and often become detached at the gutter tray thus allowing rainwater run-off to pool directly beside of the homes’ foundation leading to a host of other undesired issues.
After the leaves have fallen, it’s imperative to clean the gutter tray well so that the roof drainage system can perform as intended directing rainwater run-off safely away from the homes’ exterior wall cladding (siding) and foundation. If the roof can be easily walked, then I suggest a leaf blower and garden hose to verify the system is performing as intended. However, if the roof is not safe to walk on or the home has a second level, then I recommend contacting a local home maintenance company or handyman to perform this for you.
B) Prepare exterior hose bibs
Commonly referred to as spigots, exterior hose bibs come in two basic types: freeze-proof and older, conventional, non-freeze proof. A freeze-proof faucet will typically have the handle to the valve running straight into the body of the faucet which allows the actual stop valve to be located inside of the heated space or crawlspace of the home. While the older non-freeze proof hose bibs typically have the handle to the valve coming out of the top of the faucet at a 90 degree angle to the body. Conventional hose bibs should have a shut off valve located safely inside the heated portion of the house, typically in the basement or crawlspace. Before the first freeze, you should shut off all of these valves and open the exterior hose bib valves to drain the water between the two and thus prevent the pipe from freezing and bursting.
For freeze-proof hose bibs, it’s important to disconnect all hoses, timers, and splitters so that the water contained between the stop valve and exterior connection can drain. Leaving the devices attached will trap water in the faucets exterior portion where it can freeze and split the housing. Be careful when restoring service to the hose bibs in the spring, by monitoring from the crawlspace/basement to verify the faucet body (housing) did not rupture as significant flooding is likely to occur. For more details about freezing hose bibs, read here: How to Prevent Your Exterior Faucet from Freezing
C) Test smoke and carbon monoxide alarms
The old adage, “Change your batteries when the time changes” is still as important today as it once was. This essential home maintenance task should not be ignored and frankly, is the easiest one to do as well. Smoke and carbon monoxide alarms come equipped with a test button, however, pressing the button doesn’t necessarily mean that the detector works but rather shows that the battery functions. The proper testing procedure is manufacturer specific so please refer to the manufacturer’s instructions. If you don’t have the instructions (don’t worry, most people don’t) then simply look online for your particular model. For more detailed information about smoke alarms please see past post: Life Savings Facts about Smoke Alarms
D) Service your heating system and replace the filters
I cannot stress how important this is. Most people choose not to have seasonal or annual service to their heating system. As one of the most expensive and important systems in your home, it’s money well spent to have a professional mechanical contractor inspect and service your system to keep it running at peak efficiency and to make small repairs or replacements to components before they cause major issues. The time is in the fall prior to the heating season as likely the costs will be reduced when compared to an emergency service call on the weekend or having to take a half day off from work to meet the service provider. So plan ahead and have it serviced now to have the peace of mind of knowing that your home will be warm all season. Don’t forget to change your filters. They typically should be changed and/or cleaned at the beginning of each season. It not only provides cleaner air to breathe, but also keeps the hvac system running at peak efficiency which ultimately saves money in the long run.
For a healthy, happy home, seasonal maintenance is imperative. It not only protects you, the occupants, but also protects and preserves your largest investment, your home.