Looking for an all-encompassing fall home maintenance checklist? Look no further! This post has a list of 14 items to focus on in the coming weeks to prepare for winter.
Fall is the perfect opportunity to spend time watching football, enjoying the fall air and colorful leaves. Fall is also the perfect opportunity to focus on home maintenance. Home maintenance costs are free or minimal compared to the cost of major repairs or replacement of home items.
This year going into winter feels even more serious. We are at home with two little kids, and once temperatures get extremely cold, going on walks around the neighborhood or on nearby trails just won’t be possible. With that in mind, it makes it seem even more important that we prepare our home for winter so that we will be comfortable, prepared, and minimize trips to stores.
Here are the 14 fall home maintenance checklist items to be focusing on now and in the coming weeks in order to make yourself a more financially savvy homeowner:
- Clean Out Gardens and Flower Beds
- Clean Gutters
- Winterize Sprinkler Systems
- Check Winter Equipment Functions
- Detach and Drain Garden Hoses
- Have Necessary Equipment on Hand
- Have Chimneys Cleaned
- Clean Around Windows and Doors
- Clean and Change Which Vents are Open and Closed
- Complete Heater Maintenance
- Deep Clean Rooms
- Donate Items
- Check All Detectors
Let’s dive deeper into each item on your fall home maintenance checklist!
Outdoor Fall Home Maintenance Checklist Items
The obvious place to start with preparing a home for winter is by focusing on outdoor tasks. Weather is unpredictable and once the weather gets cold, being outside is less enticing for bigger projects.
Clean Out Gardens and Flower Beds
Save time and money by having the bags ready to go for your local yard waste pickup day.
In the late fall, most cities have a yard and brush pick-up days. There are typically limits such as 20 bags of yard waste, and no item more than 50 lbs, or something to those effects. This special yard waste pickup day typically only happens once for residences of each city. In Kansas City, where we live, it also depends on what part of the city a person resides.
Prior to this day, take time to clean out gardens and flower beds. Focus on removing any annuals (i.e. tomato plants, impatiens, etc) or perennials that need to be pruned back (i.e. liriope, peonies, etc.). Also, if there are any weeds, get rid of them.
A little PSA about leaves: It’s easy to think that getting rid of leaves as part of this yard cleanup message. However, I’m going to urge you to mulch what is in your yard with your lawnmower and leave the leaves on your flower beds until spring.
Leaves are a great way to protect plants during the winter as they help keep moisture in the ground, so instead of removing them as part of your fall home maintenance checklist, put it on your spring to-do checklist (or just forget about them until we release our spring checklist next year!).
Have you ever heard of a roof ice dam? It happens where ice forms in the gutters and along the base of the roof due to freezing rain. Rainwater then seeps below the ice, often leaking upwards under the shingles. This often causes a leak into the home through the roof. This is not a common thing; however, it is real. One of the contractors we’ve worked with needed to miss a day working on a project at our house to help his parents deal with a water leak from one.
Gutters only work properly to move water away from our home if they:
- Are cleaned out
- Slope properly
- Have adequate downspouts
After all or most of the leaves have fallen, take time to make sure that leaves and branches aren’t clogging gutters going into the winter. If your gutters are high from the ground, don’t hesitate to hire someone to come clean them. It’s not a costly job, but having gutters that don’t work could create very costly repairs—making it an essential part of your fall home maintenance checklist.
Winterize Sprinkler Systems
I’m not here to advocate for sprinkler systems. I think they’re costly and honestly, the times they are beneficial (i.e. watering plants during dry spouts) can be easily fixed by using a hose. But, we do have a sprinkler system. It was put in by the previous homeowners and we are doing our best to maintain it. In fact, this year Mark spent a significant amount of time replacing sprinkler heads and valves in order to minimize the amount of leaking water from our system. It was also much cheaper for him to do the work than to hire it out, but that’s another story.
When the grounds freeze, if sprinkler system hoses are full, the water would also freeze. This increases the likelihood that a sprinkler line will crack and then leak the following season. Good luck finding leaks in sprinkler hoses. So, take time to flush and winterize a sprinkler system. Again, this is likely an item on your fall home maintenance checklist that a professional may need to help you accomplish.
Check Winter Equipment Functions
No one knows when the first snow or freezing rain will happen.
Funny story: When I lived in Los Angeles, the management I worked for had a great relationship with managers in our Denver, Colorado office. We had a small competition to see who could guess when the first snow would happen in Denver. Dates ranged from early October to December.
So, if you have a snowblower or other powered equipment you like to use in the winter months, make sure before it gets too cold out that the equipment is gassed up and working properly. It’s a lot more comfortable to troubleshoot issues in cool fall weather than it is in freezing winter weather.
Detach and Drain Garden Hoses
If you have garden hoses attached to spigots, take time to unscrew the hoses and empty out the water inside. Similar to sprinkler systems, having these items detached and emptied will help preserve their usability for the next season they are needed. It will also minimize the likelihood that the spigots themselves will freeze and leak water into your home.
Have Necessary Equipment on Hand
Just like it’s easier to fix up equipment in the fall, it’s also easier to find equipment during the fall. It’s easier to shop around and get a good deal, and not have to settle because what is preferred is not available. Think about times when there is a bad storm headed in your direction and then you go to the store and things are picked over.
I noticed at my last Costco trip that winter coats were out. I was able to snag a women’s winter coat for $25, something I knew I needed. Other things to think about are winter gloves, a snow shovel, and ice melt. Save yourself a trip to the store during the coldest weather by getting a head start on your fall home maintenance checklist and ensuring you have the necessary items on hand going into winter.
Have Chimneys Cleaned
Last January we welcomed our second daughter into our family. She was literally born on a day where there was an ice storm in Kansas City. It was cold. We had our heat set extra high, but our house felt cold. So we often used our fireplace to keep our house as warm as possible in order to keep ourselves warm and especially our newborn.
In Los Angeles, we didn’t have a heater, but we had a fireplace to take the chill out of our home. A fireplace is a wonderful thing, in my opinion. However, having a chimney fire is the last thing anyone wants.
In the fall is a great time to have the chimney cleaned before the fireplace gets used going into winter. Having a chimney cleaned out is much, much less costly than having a fire.
Indoor Fall Home Maintenance Checklist Items
Now that the outside is spruced up, it’s now time to focus on some inside tasks for your fall home maintenance checklist!
Clean Around Windows and Doors
Just in the last few weeks, we have had 18 windows replaced in our home. It may seem silly, but we cannot wait to see how they perform through the winter months. I am expecting our gas bill will be less than last year. We think we will see real energy cost savings because the windows were installed are much more efficient than our old windows.
However, every fall it’s a great opportunity to clean around window frames and check the seals. This helps to minimize drafts and keep cold air out and heated air in. A short amount of time spent cleaning can lower your energy bills and make the interior of your home more comfortable.
Clean and Change Which Vents are Open and Closed
As we go from using air conditioning to heat, take a moment to clean your air return vents and other vents. Also, take time to change which vents are open/closed. Cleaning the vents out is to ensure that you are minimizing dust and maintaining better air quality in your home.
Remember that heat rises. For homes that have more than one level, in the summer months, it makes sense to have vents open in the highest level (i.e. main level of a ranch with a basement, or second level of a one and a half or two-story). This means that cool air will start highest in the house and move its way down to the main level.
In the winter months, change vents so that the vents are open on the lowest level (i.e. the basement or main level). This will encourage your lowest level (the coolest) to be heated and the warmth will move up in the house. It will help your house to be a more consistent temperature throughout and will save you on your utilities as the area needing the most change in temperature will have more air flowing to it.
So, as we’re going into winter, open vents on your main level or in your basement and close vents within your highest levels.
Complete Heater Maintenance
Having a heater ready for winter is more than changing out the filter, which again is a must for your fall home maintenance checklist. The filter ensures the air quality throughout your home is at its best. However, know that technicians do much more than replacing an air filter.
They will review and or do, among other things, the following: calibrate the thermostat, clean burners, review electrical connections, test the safety and heating capabilities. So, either watch youtube videos if you are a do-it-yourselfer to make sure you cover the gamut of things to maintain on your heater or have a professional come to your home and conduct maintenance on your heater.
If you’ve not scheduled this, get it scheduled in the next week or two so that you don’t get too far into winter before they’re able to come to check on your heater.
Deep Clean Rooms
Like I said at the outset, I’m feeling a little more pressure going into winter to have our house comfortable and meeting our needs. It’s because we will be in this space for longer periods of time due to the pandemic and bad weather. I’m very careful about who I follow on Social Media because I think it has a huge impact on our psyche. But this summer I’ve started following @gocleanco on Instagram, and I’ve really enjoyed watching their cleaning projects.
They’ve really influenced me (yes, I know, influenced) to want to deep clean and have our home orderly. I think we’re pretty clean individuals, and we don’t love a lot of clutter. However, I know that through the summer we enjoy having the windows open and it just feels like time to really check in on thoroughly cleaning. So, we’ve started the process of deep cleaning each room in our home based on some of the information that @gocleanco has shared about their best practices.
I’m washing walls and sealing grout, cleaning out closets and drawers. I know that doesn’t sound fun, but going into winter, I think it will feel liberating and increase our comfort within our home. Typically each fall and spring we just weed through stuff, so this is a new level for us this year, and I think it will be something we continue to do going forward.
If you have summer clothes in your closet that you didn’t wear this summer—what will be different next summer? Don’t hold onto those items through winter.
I love giving away kids clothes that are too small and I love donating home goods and other things that I no longer need or want. For me, it makes our home feel lighter. I’m not as extreme as Marie Kondo when it comes to minimizing, but focusing on having things organized and in their spot, and getting rid of items I have no use for, is important to me.
We have a spot in our house where we put donate items and at least once a quarter we make a quick trip to our local donation center. If we get to the end of a quarter and nothing is in the donation pile, we will play a game to find items that we are ready to part with. Sometimes we donate little and sometimes it’s more than I’d like to admit. While I’m working on cleaning our home, finding things to donate is on my list of things to watch for and we will make a donation before too long.
Don’t go into winter with extra things in your space that don’t bring you joy or that you don’t have a use for. Make this a priority on your fall home maintenance checklist.
Check All Detectors
As we go into winter, we are less likely to open windows, and our home is more buttoned up. Gas appliances will be used more in closed spaces. It’s important to check that all smoke, carbon monoxide detectors, etc. are functioning.
If any of the detectors are powered by a nine-volt battery, go ahead and change them out, as they need to be changed every six months.
Ok, so this one does maybe not seem like it belongs on a fall home maintenance checklist, but hear me out: Fall cooking days are my absolute favorite. On days where it is just slightly chilly, we make them cooking days —we make homemade chicken stock, bierocks, applesauce, lasagna, and pizzas. We enjoy some throughout the cooking day, but most are frozen. We always put the cooking date on the item, so if something were to get lost in the freezer we would know when it was made.
This serves two purposes:
- By having pre-made meals in the freezer going into winter, we always have backup meals when it gets cold.
- It also warms the house. Instead of turning on the heat to get the chill out of the air, having the stove and oven going does warm up the house.
So, add this to your fall home maintenance checklist as it can make a difference in the function of your house going into winter and save having to turn the heater on early in the fall.
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