Snow flurries are flying as I'm writing this, but we still see homes every week that are not prepared for the long winter. Neglecting some simple maintenance items may lead to more costly issues down the road.
Today's tip identifies a few important fall home maintenance items that should be done if you haven't already. For a full Fall Home Maintenance to-do list, click here.
One last gutter cleaning
Unusual temperature swings this Fall created intermittent leaf shedding from different types of trees at different times. Unfortunately, that could mean multiple gutter cleanings if you had cleaned them too early.
Not cleaning leaves and debris from your gutters can cause multiple issues. Ice building up in gutters and downspouts that are not meant to hold excessive weight can bend gutters, detach them from your house, or cause movement at seams that can break sealant and cause leaking. In addition, clogged gutters and downspouts mean water will not be routed away from your foundation as intended, which could lead to saturated ground near your foundation and possibly water issues in basements or crawl spaces.
Drain and remove garden hoses
Water freezing in a garden hose can not only ruin the hose, it can also put pressure on your plumbing pipes.
If you don't have frost-free hose bibs (see photo to the left), you should also turn the water off at the shut-off valve, which should be located just inside the wall near the faucet.
Trimming and cutting
It's getting cold out there, but trimming dead tree limbs, cleaning out dead annuals from flower beds, and properly trimming perennials will have multiple benefits.
Dead tree limbs may fall with the weight of snow or freezing rain turning to ice. Trimming bushes and perennial plants helps the plants store energy for the winter months. If nothing else, cleaning up those plant beds now is a lot easier than in the spring, when the ground is saturated after the snow melts and dead or dormant plants can be a soggy mess.
Here are a few tasks you can do in the warmth of your home.
-Check your dryer exhaust and clean if necessary. Lint build-up can be a fire hazard and can make your dryer work harder.
-Change your furnace humidifier to the winter setting to add humidity to the air for comfort. While you are there, check your humidifier filter and replace if needed.
-Have your chimney cleaned if using a fireplace during the winter. Gas fireplaces that vent into chimneys also need to be cleaned.
-It should be a monthly task, but test your smoke detectors if you haven't done so in a while. Simply pushing the test button only tests if the alarm makes a sound or not. Fully testing smoke detectors properly requires actual smoke. You can buy smoke in a can at your local store (see photo), or you can light a long wooden match, blow it out and place it at the detector. Replace detectors you suspect to be older than 10 years.
We hope these tips have been helpful. Feel free to share it with anyone you think may benefit from it.