If spring is a season for deep home cleaning and freshening, then fall is for annual system
checks, maintenance, and repairs aimed at ensuring a safe, comfortable inside environment for
winter. Even those living in milder climates will benefit from checking at least a few of the items
off this winter home-prep checklist:
Roof. ANY signs of damp — dark/brownish spots, peeling paint — on ceilings, around window
frames, under overhangs, around chimneys, gutters, vents/vent pipes can signify roof rot.
Breaking or buckling shingles, growing moss/lichen, mold, and algae are other signs it’s time to
bring in a PRO for a thorough roof inspection before deep cold and snow move in.
HVAC system. Now is a perfect time to bring in a professional service to inspect and perform
regular maintenance on your home heating, cooling, and air filtration system. Investing in a
standard annual PRO service contract saves money over the long term by extending system life
and ensuring your home heats and cools maximum efficiency (lowering fuel costs). And
because air filtration and flow are culprits in COVID-19 spread, expect these PRO services to be
in high demand right now. Book service sooner than later! If you decide to forgo a PRO service,
at least check and replace air filters as needed.
Attic/crawl spaces. Icicles and ice dams can be hugely damaging. They form when heat from
inside a home warms the roof, causing snow and ice to melt, run-down, and refreeze as it
encounters colder air at the eaves. The key to prevention is keeping the roof cool, which means
using a combination of insulation and ventilation to block home heat from rising that far (another
job for that roofing PRO!) Also, ask your roofing PRO to fill any openings that might invite bats,
birds, squirrels, and other small critters to seek warmth in your attic or crawl spaces.
Gutters/drainage. Clogged gutters often take the blame for ice dams. And, while they aren’t the
leading cause, they certainly make things worse. If you have trees overhanging your roof and
gutters, consider bringing in a PRO tree service for pruning. Clearing overhanging branches will
also help to prevent damaging insects from transferring to and nesting inside your home. Wait
for trees to finish dropping their leaves before cleaning gutters, and, while you are at it, test to
ensure water from gutter downspouts drains thoroughly rather than pooling. If the latter occurs,
fix drainage issues before the ground freezes, leaving you susceptible to basement flooding
from heavy winter rainstorms.
Wood trim/doors/window frames. Rotting trim is a significant pathway for insects and other small
critters seeking warmth to move inside for the winter. Inspect, patch, and replace as needed.
Fireplace/flues. Creosote — a dark, sticky wood-burning residue — is the main culprit in
chimney fires. If you frequently burn in a fireplace, wood, or pellet stove, have chimneys and
flues professionally inspected and cleaned at least once every other year or so. PRO chimney
sweeps will also check for and repair dangerous cracking in the flue pipes — a critical risk for
carbon monoxide poisoning.
Smoke, carbon monoxide detectors. A popular recommendation is to replace batteries and test
both smoke and carbon monoxide detectors with the daylight savings time change, which
occurs this year on Sunday, Nov. 1. It’s also a good idea to check the original paperwork and
familiarize yourself with what signals to expect when these vital safety devices are nearing their
end of life.
Masonry. It is essential to keep up with filling and sealing any cracks that may have formed in
patios, driveways, walkways, outer stairways, and home foundations, especially if you live in a
zone where winter temperatures routinely dip below freezing. Water seeping into these cracks,
freezing, and expanding can be a significant source of expensive-to-fix damage.
Irrigation systems/outside water. Again, if you live in a deep freeze zone, be sure to shut off
outside water sources and wrap any exposed pipes, fixtures, backflow valves, etc. with
insulation. Bring in a PRO service to blow out (with compressed air) or drain water from installed
Patio furniture/grill. Clean and either stow or cover patio furniture. Give your grill a final deep
clean and, if gas-powered, detach the propane tank. (Note: always stow propane outside; never
Windows/light fixtures/walls. With days growing shorter and darker, sparkling windows, light
fixtures, and walls are all great ways to brighten rooms and fend off (or at least minimize)
seasonal depression. However, all are big, physically exhausting jobs, so consider treating
yourself (or a loved one) to a PRO window and deep house cleaning service.
Clothes dryer. Finally, it’s time for a semi-annual deep clean of your dryer’s lint venting system,
the buildup in which can be a significant fire hazard and also interferes with efficient drying.