Even though most of us still have the central air running, it’s time to get started on some fall home maintenance. If you’ve been living in the Pittsburgh area for any length of time, you know that winter weather can sneak up when you aren’t looking and cause exterior damage to your house. Here are 10 things to check off of your list while the weather is fair. Then you can rest easy, knowing that your home and yard are buttoned up and ready for winter.
1. Yard work.
Now is the time to add fertilizer and reseed bare patches of lawn, when the grass is putting down longer roots for winter. This is also the perfect time to prune shrubs and trees. If you suspect a tree has a disease or aren’t sure how to safely trim your large trees, it’s best to call a professional. As the leaves start to fall, keep up with raking or blowing so the job doesn’t become overwhelming. Too many leaves on the ground over the winter can hurt the condition of your lawn in the spring.
2. Clean the gutters.
This is another job for a professional if you aren’t comfortable on a ladder. If you only want to do this job once, wait until the bulk of the leaves have fallen around your property. Keeping the gutters clear will prevent water from pooling on your roof and causing roof and siding damage.
3. Shut off the water.
When you are finally done watering for the season, and before the first freeze, remember to shut off exterior faucets and sprinkler systems and store hoses.
4. Inspect the exterior.
Take a good look at your roof, foundation and siding. Schedule a professional to come out and check any signs of peeling or cracking siding, or damaged shingles.
5. Check the fireplace.
Even if you don’t often have a roaring fire in the chimney, you should have a professional chimney sweep inspect your fireplace each year. They can make sure the chimney is clean and dampers are in good working order to prevent fire and carbon monoxide hazards.
6. Do a draft report.
On a cool day, move your hand around your inside windows and doors to feel for drafts. If needed, you can quickly and inexpensively replace the caulking and weatherstripping to keep the cold air outside.
7. Clean the dryer vent.
When the air becomes dry in the fall and winter, static electricity can ignite lint stuck in your dryer vent. Clearing out the vent to the outside will also help your dryer run more efficiently.
8. Check stairs and railings.
When everything is covered in snow or ice, it’s hard to see the stairs, sidewalk or driveway underneath. Make any repairs to these surfaces now, so they are sturdy and even. Make sure outside railings are in good shape, as well.
9. Test safety devices.
Check the expiration date on your home’s fire extinguisher and replace it if necessary. Also test all of your smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors and replace batteries or defective units. If you are concerned about radon levels in your home, all is a good time to check radon gas levels, once you start keeping doors and windows closed consistently.
10. Lay in the supplies.
You might not feel like buying ice melt, just yet. But it’s no fun trying to go out after a storm hits. Make sure your snow blower and shovels are in good working order and that you have fuel. It’s also a good idea to restock emergency supplies for your car.
Enjoy the rest of the season, but take time to get your home ready for whatever winter sends our way.