Now that the hot summer days have drawn to a close, the leaves start to fall, and the days grow shorter – it’s time to kick back, watch some football, and get ready for the holidays. Like many of you, I’m sure, this is my favorite time of the year!
While we don’t have as many home maintenance tasks that we need to worry about in the Fall as we do in the Spring, there are definitely some items that you want to stay on top of to prepare for the winter here in Atlanta.
Let’s take a look at 6 home maintenance tasks that you should knock out this Fall before we head into the wintertime.
Tune-Up the Heating System
Fortunately, we don’t have super cold winters here in Atlanta, but we can’t go all winter without firing up the heating system either. You want to get this done now because of two very important reasons:
- If your furnace is going to break down, it will do so when it is running the hardest and longest – meaning, when it’s freezing cold. I know this from experience. My furnace shut down on me in the dead of winter and the temperature in our 1920’s house dropped to around 50 degrees! No fun.
- You can usually find good deals on service technicians in the Fall. Prices go up when the temp cools down and demand rises. (This is also why you should service your cooling system in the Spring – before the hot summer months.)
One easy thing that you can do yourself is to change the filter. When the filter gets clogged, the system has to work harder and harder to move air, and this can eventually cause the system to fail.
I was at a house a few weeks ago that had water damage in the laundry room going into the kitchen from the leaking HVAC system. So I pulled the filter out and it was clogged solid with dirt, dust, and hair.
We replaced the filter, cleaned up the water, and everything has been good since! Change the filter – so easy, and so often overlooked.
Finally, you should also consider getting the air ducts cleaned and having someone look over the system to be sure it is functioning at optimal performance. Hire a pro for these services. While not free, these preventative services will cost you a lot less than a full-blown system repair or replacement.
Clean Fireplace and Chimneys
While certainly not as common as they used to be, many homes still have working fireplaces and chimneys.
What happens over time is that creosote can build up on the inside of a chimney and eventually light and catch fire. And this isn’t the kind of fire you want in your fireplace, as it can burn down the whole house.
It’s also good to check and clear out any birds or rodents that have nested in the chimney before you go back to firing up some timber.
Hire a chimney sweep to inspect your chimney and make sure that the coast is clear before getting back to the warmth of a crackling wood-fire.
Insulate Water Lines
Do you know what happens when water freezes? It expands. This is why if you’ve ever left a water bottle in the freezer, the ice expands and eventually distorts or cracks the plastic bottle.
Well, the same thing happens with water pipes, although the pipes don’t expand as the ice hardens, they break.
Most water lines run through the inside of the house, but if you have a non-insulated crawlspace, then you should definitely take a few easy precautions to insulate the pipes.
You can pick up some cheap pipe insulation designed specifically for this purpose at a hardware store, or, better yet, hire a plumber to make sure that all susceptible pipes are properly insulated.
Both options are incredibly inexpensive compared to replacing a burst pipe, and repairing water damaged floors or walls.
Clear Gutters and Downspouts
When gutters clog, water will back up and run behind the gutters down onto the fascia boards – causing rot and eventual replacement.
If the fascia boards rot out, then rain, wind, and rodents can get into your attic or top level of your house, so it’s definitely worth the $100 – $150 it costs to clean your gutters in Atlanta.
Another consequence of clogged gutters is that water will not drain away from the house. This can cause the foundation to become weak, crack, or shift. Which, you can probably guess, isn’t good for the house or for your pocketbook!
If your yard has a lot of trees, then you should ideally do this quarterly.
Seal Cracks and Crevices
Speaking of foundations, Fall is a great time to seal up any cracks or crevices that have formed in your foundation. If the cracks are small, you can do this yourself with some sealer from the hardware store.
This is also a good time to check your caulking around the windows and doors to keep cool drafts out. Replace any damaged door sweeps, and feel around windows and doors for cool air that is seeping in so you know where to seal.
Not only does keep the house warm, but it also keeps out rodents and pests who are looking for a cozy place to rest. Once mice or squirrels get into your basement or attic, they can become a costly headache – so make sure to seal everything up before the cold air has them looking to move inside.
Check the Roof
After a rainy spring and summer, Fall is a good time to check your roof for any missing or damaged shingles.
Much like a rotten fascia board or a gapped foundation, a roof with damaged shingles invites cold air, water, and pests into your home.
Depending on the size and shape of your house, you can probably see for yourself if any of the shingles look broken, worn out, or damaged. If so, then call in a roofing contractor to fix before it’s too late!
With these 6 home maintenance tasks taken care of, you can now – with peace of mind and a sense of security – relax and enjoy the cooler weather.