By doing a little preventative maintenance now, you can prevent minor problems from escalating into a major headache in the spring, Felton said. Minor repairs done now can prevent air and moisture penetration from attacking the structural integrity of your home down the road, he added.
Cleaning the eavestroughs in the fall, for example, can prevent ice damming in the winter, where moisture is forced up under the roof's shingles during winter's freeze-thaw cycles. Our roofing contractors are always busy in the spring, fixing damage and leaks that have occurred because of ice damming, Felton added.
Here are some home maintenance jobs that should be on a homeowner's winterizing checklist:
Clean eavestroughs after the last leaves have fallen. Run a garden hose and check that they are draining properly and that downspouts are operating and directed away from the home's foundation walls. Check for leaking or damaged gutters, downspouts and hangers. Remove rust and patch the gutters with roofing cement. Caulk leaking seams and make sure pop rivets are secure.
Check the roof for trouble signs such as broken or missing shingles, cracked, buckling or curling shingles, or bare spots where the granular coating has worn off. Check flashing around vents, skylights and chimneys. Look for pieces that have peeled back and for cracked caulking that could allow moisture penetration.
Have the chimney cleaned and check the exterior structure for worn flashing, loose bricks or crumbling mortar.
Have your furnace cleaned, inspected and safety checked. Depending on the system, you will need to have the furnace vacuumed, the filter changed and the pilot checked.
Check for blockage of attic louvres by wasp's nests and put sheet metal, wire screen or wood over any openings, including under the eaves, to prevent animals from nesting.
Remove and store your window air conditioner. Make sure to clean the coils and filters and cover loosely for the winter. If you are leaving the air conditioner in the window, put a weatherproof cover over it to protect it during the winter.
Clean your lawnmower and other garden tools before storing. Give all the metal parts of your tools a wipe with an oiled rag to prevent rusting. Drain the fuel from gas-powered machines and run the engine until the lines are clear. Drain the oil and replace it. Clean caked-on grass and debris.
Check doors and windows for proper caulking and weatherstripping. Do the draft test: hold a lit candle and run it along the seams of doors and windows. A flickering flame means your heating dollars are going out the window. Check the bottoms of doors for a snug threshold seal or door sweep.
Make sure your fireplace is in safe working order. Check that the damper opens and closes smoothly and fits properly to prevent heat loss. Check inside the fireplace to make sure no bricks are loose or broken. If your fireplace is smoking excessively, check the chimney for fallen bricks. Installing a chimney cap can cure a smoking fireplace by improving the draft.
Drain exterior water lines, hose bibs, sprinklers, and pool equipment before the first major freeze. Caulk around pipes where they enter the house.
Clean your barbecue and store it in a protected place for the winter. Never store propane tanks indoors.
Clean patio furniture and store, loosely covered, in a dry place.
Wash windows to let in the maximum heat and light during cold winter days.
Doing your fall chores can make your life easier come spring, when you would rather be fishing than fixing winter damage.