A Rite of Fall: Home Maintenance Tips and Winter Damage Prevention
For homeowners with a long list of “to-dos,” fall is the perfect time for home and lawn maintenance. Once inclement late-season weather sets in, it may be too late to prepare for cooler, wetter weather and improve your home’s energy efficiency, much of which needs to be done on your house’s exterior. When late-fall and winter winds and precipitation set in, climbing up and down ladders and installing storm windows can quickly become impractical, even dangerous. Consider the following tips as you think through your fall home maintenance routine.
Allergies can be a major problem in the fall. Lawn material gets tracked into the house and accumulates in your carpeting, producing unpleasant allergic reactions for family members who may suffer the effects of respiratory problems as a result. Vacuum every room in your house that has carpeting. Make sure you have a vacuum model that’s designed to handle longer-pile carpets.
Fall is the time to think about cutting away dead limbs from trees and shrubs to prevent damage from falling limbs, and caring for trees that are looking threadbare and sickly. Consult with an arborist in the fall if you’re concerned about diseases, many of which can be prevented with a fungicide injection. It’s a smart precaution, considering that trees shield our houses from damaging winds and other manifestations of damaging winter weather and can be very expensive to cut down and dispose of if not cared for properly.
Clean those gutters
Fall is when gutters and downspouts are most likely to become clogged with falling leaves and lawn debris. Clogged gutters impede water flow, and can lead to pooling and overflowing water that can damage siding and your roof. Remember that you don’t even need trees in your yard to accumulate lawn build-up, which can be blown over from other lawns and into your gutter system. Once the leaves have fallen, make sure you climb the ladder and scoop out all that build-up.
Get out the rakes
Leaf raking is a familiar rite of autumn, and is as identifiable with fall as football and pumpkin spice lattes. Once the trees (yours and your neighbors’) have shed their leaves, get those rakes and lawn bags out and clear out the fallen leaves. All that orange, brown and gold may look attractive, but it’s a threat to your gutters and external drainage. It can also inhibit spring growth if left unattended, especially if you live in an area that gets a lot of snowfall. Snow-covered leaves can lead to mold and fungus, which won’t do your spring grass growth any good.
Holes and tears
Fall is also the time to look for damage to your home’s exterior. Closely inspect your siding and roof for signs of damage that could lead to lasting structural damage from high winds, snow, rain and debris. Dealing with it now before it gets too cold can save you a bundle of money on more serious repairs that might have to wait until next spring.
Shut off the water
Freezing weather can cause any water left in exterior faucets and pipes to freeze and expand, leading to burst pipes and a whole lot of expensive water damage at a time of year when repairs are most expensive. Go around and make sure that external faucets have been shut off and hoses have been drained and put away for the season.
Fall home maintenance requires careful attention to both the interior and exterior of your home. It’s really the last chance to create a safe and healthy environment before winter sets in and to prevent damage that can put a huge dent in your finances.
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