Fall is my favorite season. It's cliche, I know, but I can't get over my love of sweaters, boots, fresh apple cider, football, fall festivals, and evenings by the fire. While it's easy to get lost in the joy of this season, fall is also an important time for home owners to complete necessary home maintenance to keep their home in top condition through the cold months ahead.
Here are some of the most important items to take care of this fall.
1. Protect your home's pipes: The Pacific Northwest tends to have fairly moderate winters. However, we're not immune to hard freezes. My family found that out the hard way after a week of sub-freezing temps caused a pipe to burst during our first winter as homeowners. To prevent our expensive and messy mistake, disconnect all exterior hoses, cover exterior faucets with a faucet cover/freeze cap, and turn off the water running to exterior faucets (when and where available). Exterior faucet covers can be purchased at just about any hardware store, and they're only a few dollars each. This is a cheap way to save yourself thousands of dollars and avoid the aggravation of a big cleanup.
2. Service that furnace: Before the real cold weather hits, you'll want to test and service your furnace. Start by turning the system on long before you need it and ensuring that it kicks on easily and blows nice, warm air. Once it gets cold, HVAC companies become incredibly busy with repairs and maintenance, so I recommend getting your furnace checked early in the season. Sunset Air suggests servicing a furnace every year, and most home inspectors and HVAC companies suggests servicing a furnace every year or two. Expect to spend around $120-180 to have a company clean out the furnace, replace the filter, text it's function, and inspect it for current, or coming, issues. Performing regular service will extend the life of your furnace, help you catch minor issues before they turn into big problems, and give you a bit of advanced notice when parts, or the whole unit, are nearing the end of their lifespan.
3. Get the green off of your roof: Moss makes a strong showing this time of year. Moss can wreak havoc on a roof by creeping between the shingles and forcing them up, allowing water to seep in. Leave moss unchecked, and you'll eventually end up repairing or replace a roof much sooner. Thankfully, moss cleanup is fairly simple. Ross Harbin, of New Creation Roofing, says that roofs should never be pressure washed to remove moss. Instead, he suggests using a soft bristled brush to gently rub the moss away. After the moss is removed, a moss treatment can be put down, in thick lines, along the peaks of the roof. As the season rains fall, they'll cause the treatment to run down the length of the roof to treat the entire roof. Any hardware store will sell moss treatment in canisters or bags. If you're not comfortable climbing up on your roof, an experience roofing company can take care of this item for you for roughly $180-300. Remember to check out their business license and call to ask about their process and charges before hiring any company.
4. Clear those gutters: As the leaves fall, they'll look gorgeous but clog your gutters. It's time to drag out a ladder and some thick gloves and pull all those leaves out of your gutters. Depending on how many large trees surround your home, you may need to do this multiple times during the fall. Even if you don't have large trees near your home, it's a good idea to get up on that ladder and take a look inside your gutters. Leaves may be blowing in from a neighboring property, and you may have quite the collection of roof granules in need of cleaning out.
5. Prune, prune, prune: Big, beautiful trees and hedges add lots of charm and curb appeal. However, vegetation that touches or hangs over your home invites moisture and pests. Boggs Inspection Services recommends trimming trees and bushes so that they are at least 6 inches from siding, trim, and roof materials.
6. Check for leaks: Some leaks are out to impress and start big but others start small and can cause significant damage before they're detected. Taking a few minutes to go through your house and check all wet areas for moisture can help you catch a tiny drip before it becomes a huge leak. Grab a flashlight and look under and around sinks and toilets and under and behind kitchen appliances and the washing machine. I usually feel around some too. Sometimes it's easier to feel a tiny drip than it is to see it (especially if the cabinets under your sinks are as cluttered as mine).
7. Caulk everywhere: Caulking is one of the maintenance items that will be on just about every seasonal list because it needs to be checked regularly and is easy and fast to take care of. Inside your home, you'll want to check around all toilets and sinks, around all tubs and showers, around doors that lead outside, around windows, and anywhere a counter meets the wall or backsplash. As caulking cracks and breaks, scrape out what you can and re-caulk the area. Hardware stores carry inexpensive tools to help you remove old caulk and neatly install a new line. Outside the house, check around windows and doors and between siding planks (if you have wood or cement siding boards).
8. Keep out the beasts: When the weather gets cold and rainy, everyone wants to come indoors. That includes pests that you would probably prefer to keep out. Crawls space and attic access points and ventilation points are popular places for rodents to gain entry, so take some time to make sure that they are secure and replace any broken or torn mesh and covers.
As a homeowner, you've probably already figured out that your work is almost never done. There are always things to inspect, maintain, and repair. Don't let that become daunting though. A regularly maintained home shows the love that it has been given, and you get more enjoyment and an easier sale out of a home that has been cared for.