Fall in Ontario is such a beautiful season, it’s easy to get caught up in the changing colours, pumpkin spice and cozy new sweaters. The cooler weather is also a sign that it’s time to get some fall home maintenance checked off your list before the real cold arrives.
Tackling a few small tasks now will help to ward off any more serious issues that can be caused by the harsh winter weather and leave you free to enjoy all the nice things of the season.
Most of the things on our fall home maintenance checklist might be undertaken by a handy homeowner but if you need to hire the services of a professional, it’ll be well worth it; as the saying goes ‘prevention is better than cure’ especially when it comes to home maintenance.
Top 10 Fall Home Maintenance Tasks
Inspect Your Roof
There’s not many homeowner problems that cause more worry than a leaky roof. Check the entire surface, including shingles and metal flashing for any damage or signs of wear that could potentially result in a leak.
Change Furnace Filters
Generally, furnace filters should be changed every three months. If it’s not been done in a while however, it’s a simple swap out and fall is the perfect time to do it before turning on the heating for the first time.
After changing your filters, If you find your heating system is not working as well as it once was, it could be overdue for a proper inspection by a heating professional. Schedule this early in fall as engineers will get very busy once winter hits.
Winterizing Water Systems
To prevent outside faucets and sprinkler systems from freezing and bursting, take steps to prepare them before the sub-zero temperatures hit. Outside faucets that have shut-off valves can be turned off and then any remaining water drained by opening the faucet on the outside. In-ground sprinkler systems should also be drained and protected according to the manufacturer's guidelines - consult your installer if you’re unsure on this.
Garden hoses should be drained before being stored for the winter or you may have to waste money on a replacement as the water can split the hose during winter. Draining can be easily achieved by laying it on a sloped surface or using an air compressor to force the water out.
Prepare Your Lawn
Leaving rotting leaves on the lawn will smother the new growth in Spring. Ensure leaves are raked from the lawn when they’re dry, it’s much easier to get rid of these! You can then aerate the ground prior to fertilizing.
If you’re only going to fertilize once, fall is the time of year to do it. When you fertilize a few weeks before the last cut, the roots get the nutrients they need to store before the grass goes dormant and you’ll get a nice growth spurt when the green reemerges in the spring.
Whilst your lawn won’t be growing as fast, it will still need watering. Watering will help it repair from the summer and build resilience for the hard winter. If you have fertilized, you’ll also need the water to help it dissolve into the soil.
Check your Home’s Safety Detectors
Is it time to swap out your smoke detectors? Most house fires occur during the winter months so check those batteries are working in your smoke detectors; in the case that your detectors are more than 5 years’ old, they may need to be replaced completely. Even once they’re checked in fall, it’s a good habit to vacuum detectors and test them on a monthly basis.
According to the Ontario government fire safety guidelines homeowners must install and maintain smoke alarms on every storey of their home and outside sleeping areas. Since 2017, carbon monoxide detectors have also been mandatory for all Ontario homes.
Clean Gutters and Downspouts
Gutters are not glamorous but they do play a big part in protecting the home’s foundations and preventing floods. Clean all debris and leaves out of the gutters and downspouts and pour some water through to check for any leakages around the joints. If there is anything seeping through, make sure to tighten the brackets if possible. Pooling water around the perimeter of the house is a sure sign that your gutters and downspouts may need some attention. Installing a gutter guard is one way to keep this job off your list in future years as you won’t need to get up the ladder and clean those leaves out.
Ready the Fireplace
If you have a woodburner in the home, even if you don’t use it very often, fall would be a good time to inspect the chimney or flue for creosote build-up. It’s probably safest to have a professional chimney sweep check the chimney for thick deposits and clean it away as necessary.
The exterior of the chimney should also be inspected to make sure there’s no damage to the chimney cap and any missing mortar between bricks is remedied before using the fire again. Whether you’re burning gas, wood, pellets, oil or some other fuel, an annual inspection is a wise investment.
Store Garden Furniture and Equipment
Cleaning and storing all your outdoor summer furniture and items will prolong their life. Storing inside is the best way to protect furniture from the excessive moisture of the season and prevent it from rotting, rusting or winter warping.
If it can’t be stored inside, the next best thing is to protect it using fitted outdoor furniture covers. Cushions should ideally be stored indoors too to avoid any mold and mildew taking hold and take time to spot clean them and dry thoroughly before putting away.
Fine Tune the Humidifier
Humidifiers have many benefits in dealing with the lower humidity of the winter months but they’re not much use (and can actually cause health problems) if they’re not maintained carefully. Dirty tanks and filters need to be cleaned regularly to remove any mineral deposits and avoid bacteria and mold forming. Filters that can’t be cleaned of build-up or film should be replaced before the weather changes.
Prep the Driveway
Concrete and asphalt driveways and pathways can really pay the price of salt treatment, ice and snow through the winter if they’re left in a state of disrepair before the harsh weather hits. Use some of the nice fall days to get rid of weeds before repairing any cracks and resealing the driveway; this will help prevent water and ice from collecting in the cracks and making them worse.
A Headstart on Fall Home Maintenance
A homeowners’ work is never done, especially in fall but by getting a headstart on a few key tasks before winter sets in, you could save yourself some stress and even some cash in the future.
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