The warm summer breeze fading to crisp fall weather means that it’s time to start prepping for the winter months ahead. Cold, wet weather can take its toll on a property, and the cost of repairs can mount quickly, unless you’re proactive.
Here are 9 helpful tips that should be on everyone’s fall maintenance checklist, from landlords and property managers to homeowners' associations.
Checklist for Fall Maintenance:
1. End-of-season yard maintenance. This includes trimming the hedges, fertilizing the grass, trimming unwieldy branches, and removing any weeds or roots that may impact siding, patios, and walkways- in addition to the usual leaf raking.
2. Pack up and store outdoor items. Clean, pack up, and store outdoor furniture, grills, and other items that could be damaged by late fall or winter weather. Take care of this early in the season before truly cold weather sets in.
3. Drain water lines. Now is a good time to turn off the water leading to outdoor spigots, especially if you live in a cold weather climate. Turning off sprinkler systems and draining outdoor hoses will prevent water from freezing and bursting the lines.
4. Clear debris from gutters. Be sure to clear all debris from rain gutters to prevent water from pooling, or even worse, causing roof damage. Changing fall colors are beautiful, but once they fall, they can lead to major headaches if they clog gutters
5. Inspect the roof for damage or other issues. Climbing up a ladder and getting onto the roof may be nerve-wracking, but it’s a worthwhile exercise to ensure that the roof is in good condition when you’re heading into the winter months. Replacing loose shingles in the fall is much easier than completing this task in the dead of winter, plus it will prevent costly damage from rain and snow down the road.
6. Seal windows and install storm doors. Seal drafty windows and doors with caulk, install new windows if necessary, and swap out screens with storm doors and windows. This will prevent heating costs from creeping up due to aging seams and leaky windows and doors which will allow cold air into your home. Taking this simple step will reduce increased heating costs throughout the winter.
7. Prepare your HVAC system and water heater for winter. Routine HVAC maintenance will prevent costly repairs and lack of heating during the season. Make sure that vents are clear and filters are in good working order. Consider draining the water heater to prevent sediment from building up in the tank. AC units should also be stored or covered up for the winter.
8. Insulate pipes. Check all pipes to see if any need to be insulated. Foam insulation may not be sufficient in particularly cold climates. You may want to consider wrapping pipes with heated electric cords that can be switched on during especially cold weather. This will prevent pipes from freezing, and potentially bursting.
9. Make fire safety a priority. House fires spike during the winter months, particularly as residents turn to space heaters to keep warm. Replace batteries in smoke and carbon monoxide detectors, and be sure that each unit has a working fire extinguisher. All vents of fireplaces and wood stoves should be clear and flues operational. Re-caulking the chimney cap to prevent obstructions will prevent potential fire issues, especially when small animals love burrowing and building nests in the chimney!
Fall maintenance may be daunting, but a small amount of time and effort spent now to weatherize for the upcoming cold weather will prevent major issues and headaches down the road, and will ensure you and your tenants will have an enjoyable and safe fall season.