Maintenance Checklist for Homeowners this Fall

furnace-check

Before the weather gets too cold, it’s crucial to prepare for the winter months to avoid costly damage. Snow, ice, and freezing weather can wreak havoc on homes across the Tri-state, so it is important to get your house in good shape before all of the leaves have fallen. While each home is different, there are some basic things any homeowner should do at this time of year to ensure you won’t find an unexpected problem this winter.

Our fall preventive house maintenance checklist is a guide every homeowner should consider in order to prevent costly repairs and damage to their home.

1. Check Your Furnace

Before the winter rolls in, one of the most important home maintenance to-dos is to ensure a properly working heating system. Whether your home uses a gas or electric furnace, heat pump, boiler, or another heat source, scheduling an appointment with a heating and cooling company to get a heating system tune-up has to be at the top of your fall home prep list.

The heating season gets very busy for many HVAC companies. There are many people scrambling to set up maintenance calls and tune-ups heading into October and November, so we always recommend the earlier you schedule this critical appointment the better. If your HVAC includes a built-in humidifier, make sure the contractor replaces that filter too.

2. Ensure Properly Installed Attic Insulation

It’s a solid idea to check your attic insulation, ventilation, and screening before it gets too cold outside. Ensure that the insulation in your attic is installed properly, and does not cover up or hide vents in the eaves.

Improper installation of insulation in your attic – for example, insulation installed upside down – can cause moisture to build up and leak into your living spaces. Check to make sure your vapor barrier faces down towards your living spaces. If it was installed facing upwards, you can use a boxcutter and cut slits in the paper to prevent moisture build-up.

While you inspect your home’s insulation, make sure that your vents are free of debris to ensure proper ventilation through your attic. If you happen to have screening around your attic to prevent unwanted gusts of wind from entering your home, make sure the screens are free of holes or tears.

3. Seal Air Leaks in Windows and Doors

Preventing unwanted cool air and moisture from entering through your walls is one of the least likely – and most important – fall maintenance jobs. Over the years, the caulk seals around windows and doors can begin to deteriorate, providing opportunities for your home’s warm energy to leave your home and the cold air to enter.

Plan a day to inspect your exterior entrances and seal up cracks between wood trim and siding around the window and entrance door frames and where pipes and other wires enter your home. Check the forecast and find a sunny day with outdoor temperatures over 50° so the caulk flows easily.

Another common way for homeowners to seal openings from the winter elements is weatherstripping. This padded layer of defense can fit around the joints of a door or window, like a border, adding another layer of protection.

4. Store Away Garden Hoses

This is one of those tasks that if you’ve ever forgotten to unscrew your garden hose from your outdoor faucet, you’ll never forget to do it again. Leaving hoses attached can cause water to back up in the faucets and in the plumbing pipes just inside your exterior walls. When those winter freezing temperatures hit, the exterior hose bib and pipe can freeze, expand, and crack. Make this an early fall priority so a sudden cold snap doesn’t sneak up and cause unwanted damage.

You can buy insulated faucet guards to help protect the faucet from the harsh winter elements. Also, turn off any shutoff valves on water supply lines that lead to exterior faucets. This can protect against minor leaks that may let water enter the faucet. Drain your hoses and store them in a garage or shed until the spring.

5. Inspect Your Water Heater

There’s nothing more jarring than waking up to no hot water on a freezing cold day! Whether you have a tanked water heater or high-efficiency tankless hot water heater, it’s important to keep an eye on how it’s functioning and conduct regular tank flushes and maintenance to extend its life.

If your water temperature is inconsistent lately, it might just need a quick tune-up. If you’re hearing loud banging sounds from the tank or your water is turning a rust color, you’ll want to call a professional plumber right away.

6. Change Your HVAC System Filter

If the filter is clogged or dirty for your furnace or heating system, your house is more likely not to be heated properly. This will cause your utility bills to rise. Set a reminder each month to check your air filter and replace it if necessary. While the general rule is to change your filter every one to three months, they may need to be replaced more often if you have pets or often leave your windows open when the weather allows.

7. Change Batteries in Carbon Monoxide Detectors and Smoke Detectors

It’s important to regularly change the batteries in your smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors, especially heading into winter. If you have a gas fireplace or a wood-burning one, your home is more susceptible to carbon monoxide poisoning.

Fresh batteries in these detectors will keep your family safe all fall and winter long. And if you don’t already have a carbon monoxide detector, we always recommend installing one by each fireplace.

8. Clean Your Gutters and Downspouts

If you live in an area with a lot of trees and shrubs, you know that fall means leaf ranking season. Clogged gutters of wet leaves could cause rotting roof surfaces and water to flood your basement. They are also more susceptible to rust and corrosion. Wash out any dirt on the outside of your gutter before the leaves fly and protect with mesh gutter guards when it rains.

Each year, your roof draining system helps divert thousands of cubic yards of water from your house’s exterior walls and foundations so keeping these systems going smoothly is vital.

Ready for Winter?

This may seem like an overwhelming list, but one call to Hauser Air can help you tackle this fall home maintenance checklist. Our HVAC technicians and indoor air quality specialists take great pride in keeping our neighbors safe and their homes ready for the changing seasons.

Give us a call or schedule an appointment for any heating and cooling and air quality services you may need.