Fall Maintenance Checklist
After a long summer, the season of pumpkin spice lattes, visits to the apple orchard, and crisp autumn air is officially here. The changing of the seasons is the perfect time to tackle maintenance tasks throughout the home. We’ve put together a list of 10 tasks that will help ensure a smooth transition into the winter months.
Stock Up on Winter Supplies
In Iowa, you never know what winter is going to bring. Some years, we have little to no snow. Other years, there’s a full-fledged snowmaggedon. Either way, you should be prepared. Before the first snowfall hits, check your snow blower, shovel, and ice scraper to ensure they are in working order. It’s also a good idea to stock up on ice melt, wood (if you have a wood-burning fireplace), and emergency kits for your car and home.
Don’t know what to include in your winter emergency kit? Here are our go-to items to keep around in our car and home:
- First Aid kit (including bandages, hand sanitizer, antiseptic, antibiotic ointment, aspirin, cotton balls, gauze pads, tweezers, bandana)
- Fire extinguisher
- Road flares
- Jumper cables
- Flashlight with extra batteries
- Duct tape
- Drinking water and non-perishable snacks
- Multipurpose tool
- Ice scraper
- Cat litter (can provide traction on slick roads)
- Blankets or sleeping bag
Check Safety Devices
Ensuring the safety of yourself and those living with you should be a year-round priority. As one of the most important items in your home, you should regularly check your smoke detectors to make sure they are functioning properly. The US Fire Administration recommends that you test the smoke detectors in your home at least once a month and batteries should be replaced twice per year. So, if it’s been awhile since you replaced your batteries, now’s the time to do so.
In addition to checking your smoke detector, fall is a good time to make sure your carbon monoxide detector is functioning properly. Carbon monoxide—also known as the silent killer—is especially dangerous due to its colorless, odorless, and tasteless properties. This poisonous gas can be fatal when inhaled. Carbon monoxide can come from any improperly functioning fuel-burning appliance, including furnaces, gas stoves, space heaters, and more. Symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning include severe headaches, fatigue, disorientation, dizziness, nausea, and sleepiness. The best way to avoid the dangerous effects of carbon monoxide is to catch it before it can do any damage. Make sure you equip your home with carbon monoxide alarms on every level and in bedrooms.
Some in-home security systems monitor for dangerous situations and help if you accidentally get locked out on the front porch after fetching a package. Upgrading your home with smart home security technology is a great start. With smart home technology, you won’t have to worry about getting locked out. There are a wide variety of options, ranging from Bluetooth locks that unlock when you’re in a certain range from the home to apps that can control locks and other security features in your home. Not only does it keep your home safe, it gives you peace of mind.
Deep Clean Your Home
With daylight-saving time and falling temperatures, our available hours to spend outdoors become limited. As such, fall is the perfect time to buckle up and do the deep cleaning you’ve been pushing off during the summer. Don’t know where to start? Check out our guide for 6 Steps to Declutter Your Home.
Due to a dry September, leaves are falling early in Iowa. It’s inevitable that your gutters will get their fair share of leaves. Ignoring them can be a major mistake, leading to expensive repairs—such as a flooded basement and foundation damage—down the road. After the trees in your yard are mostly bare, remove all the leaves, sticks, and other gunk that has collected in your gutters. Doing so will help ensure that any water can drain properly and avoid flooding around the foundation of your home in the spring.
Inspect Your Roof
While you’re up on your roof cleaning out the gutters, consider giving your roof a thorough inspection. Keep your eye out for warning signs such as missing or curled shingles, bare spots, and rusting. If your roof is steep or multiple stories, consider hiring a professional to inspect the roof for you. Replacing a roof is a big expense for a homebuyer. Keeping bare spots patched can add years to your roof’s life.
Seal Up Cracks and Gaps
Take a walk around your house, and keep your eyes open for any cracks in the siding or around windows and doors, electrical outlets, heating/cooling units, and where pipes enter your home. Letting cracks go untreated can cause substantial issues with temperature retention, causing an increase in your energy bills during extreme hot or cold weather. According to GE, air sealing can save a homeowner as much as 14 percent—or up to $150—on a home’s annual heating and cooling. Two of the best methods to treat air leakage are caulking and weatherstripping. The United States Department of Energy’s website has great resources about air sealing your home, as well as techniques for caulking and weather stripping. Stay warm or cool without tossing money to the wind.
Shut Off Exterior Faucets and Store Hoses
As temperatures drop, exterior faucets and hoses become susceptible to freezing. Avoid the potential aftermath of a busted pipe by shutting off water to exterior faucets and draining and storing faucets and hoses before the first freeze. Not only will this save your external pipes, it will preserve the longevity of your garden hose.
Yard and Maintenance
While they may be pretty, letting fallen leaves go untouched throughout the winter can inhibit grass growth come spring. Instead of bagging up the debris and sending it off to the landfill, consider using it for compost. Leaves are a great source of minerals and are a perfect addition to your compost collection. It is recommended that you shred your leaves, as that can help speed up their decomposition. If you’re a curbside leaf raker, be sure to check the city schedule for leaf vacuuming.
Care for Trees and Shrubs
After a long, hot, Iowa summer, your trees and shrubs deserve a little love. Prepare your trees and shrubs for the cold winter ahead by pruning them. This will help protect them from the harsh winter and make them more strong and lively come the spring bloom. You can do a tree and shrub check yourself, or consider hiring an arborist to do the job. If you decide to check them for yourself, look for dead limbs, decay, fungus, and spotted leaves, which may signify a health issue.
Winterize Lawn Mower
Leaving gas in your lawn mower for months on end can lead to many issues come spring. Left untouched, gas will slowly deteriorate and cause rusting. There are a couple different ways you can go about winterizing your lawn mower. According to Family Handyman, you can add fuel stabilizer to a full tank of gasoline to prevent fuel deterioration and the formation of gum, varnish, and rust in the fuel system. Run the mower to circulate the additive throughout the fuel system. Thoroughly clean the outside and bottom of the mower, and disconnect the spark plug wire and the negative cable from the battery (if you have one). Lubricate all moving parts and spray rust inhibitor on the blade and surrounding unpainted metal parts. When spring rolls around, simply replace the spark plug wire and battery cable, and your mower will run like a champ.