Our 6 Best Fall Home Maintenance Tips

6 best fall home maintenance tips

We all love autumn, with its vibrant leaves, crisp evenings, and pumpkin-flavored coffee. Less charming, however, are the many chores that fall demands to keep your property safe, dry, and warm in the cooler months. While many homeowners might know the basics of fall maintenance, it’s far too easy to forget the one task that can cause bigger problems down the road. Make sure your home is prepared with our best fall maintenance tips.

1. Check Your Home for Drainage Problems

Once freezing temperatures hit, keeping your home dry becomes a top priority. A wet foundation can mean huge problems year-round, but especially during the late fall and winter, when frozen, expanding water can seriously damage the structure.

First, make sure that your downspouts extend far enough away from your home. Take a rainy day to observe how well they flow. If the water pools around your foundation, then you should look to extend those downspouts farther away. You should also check your basement for damp spots or large cracks, as these can be signs of excess moisture.

2. Clean Those Gutters

Fall means a constant shower of leaves and debris sliding into your gutters. And once they become clogged, rain or snowmelt will mean water flowing right onto your siding and foundation. This can cause any number of problems when freezing temperatures hit.

To alleviate this issue, wait until your trees have finished losing their leaves, then take to your gutters with the right tools: a good pair of gloves, a ladder with standoff stabilizers, a trowel or a gutter scoop, and a garden hose.

First, check near your downspouts, as these are the most commonly clogged areas. Scoop the leaves and gunk out of your gutters and discard onto a waiting tarp below. While not the most glamorous of jobs, your home will thank you for it.

Then, flush your gutters with the hose, checking for leaks. If you spot a leak, you will need to repair it with some gutter sealant. Lastly, check for gaps between your gutters and roof, and refasten where necessary.

3. Turn Off and Drain Your Sprinklers

For those with sprinkler systems, now is the time to prepare, especially if your area receives sufficient rainfall in autumn. Not only should the sprinklers be turned off, but they should be fully drained as well. Otherwise, the pipes might freeze and burst during the winter, ruining your irrigation system.

First, turn off the main valve and the sprinkler system. If your irrigation pipes have a drain valve, open it. If they don’t, then you’ll likely need to call a professional to empty your pipes for you. Lastly, detach your sprinkler heads and shake them dry. Come spring, your sprinklers should still be functional and ready to bring your lawn back to life.

4. Thoroughly Seal Your Home

Next on our list of best fall maintenance tips is actually also one of the easiest and cheapest ways to reduce energy costs — keep your home sealed. A couple of tubes of caulk can do a lot of work when applied around your windows, doors, and anywhere that wires or pipes enter your home. Not only will this keep your home better insulated and save you money, but it will also prevent moisture from creeping into your walls and freezing. If you’re unsure about your caulking skills, a professional can provide quick, tidy results.

5. Rake, Prune, and Plant Some Wintertime Grass

Just because the plants no longer grow doesn’t mean your labors in the yard are over. First, keep up with the raking. Make sure to rake fallen leaves into a disposable pile, otherwise, they’ll eventually rot and damage your property, if not your home.

Pruning might seem less obvious, but can actually be a game-changer for how well your home handles the cold weather. Ice and snow melt from bushes and overhanging trees can do damage if they’re too close to your home; therefore, keep your trees and shrubs pruned and leave a few feet of space in between them and your house.

Consider planting some ryegrass in your yard as well. This robust little grass is designed to grow quickly in the cold, protecting your lawn from erosion and keeping it looking healthy all winter long.

6. Inspect and Clean the Fireplace

There’s nothing like a warm fire to fight off the cold, but a poorly kept fireplace or chimney can be a potential fire hazard. Before using your fireplace, make sure to check the flue for debris or obstructions. Flip the damper up and down first, to ensure that it closes properly. Then, use a flashlight to inspect the flue. If you spot any obstructions or creosote buildup, you’ll likely need to call in some professional help.

By keeping just a few (or all) of our best fall maintenance tips in mind, you can make sure your winter is as cheerful and cozy as possible. Be sure to check out our blog for more great tips on home maintenance, home improvement, and surviving today’s real estate market.

This post was originally published on Oct. 4, 2016, and has since been updated.

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