Fall is an excellent time to work on home repair projects before the shorter days (of ice and snow) make it too difficult to work outdoors.

If you are living in an area where cold winters are a norm, take time this fall to enhance energy efficiency in your home and avoid damage caused by winter storms. Tick these items off your list and relax knowing that your home, including the yard, is ready for winter.

Be Prepared with this Comprehensive Home Maintenance Checklist

1. Furnace Maintenance

  • Schedule HVAC maintenance: Most emergency service calls occur as a result of improper maintenance. A service agreement for furnace maintenance always comes in handy. Schedule an appointment for the inspection and tune-up your furnace to avoid a breakdown in the winter.
  • Replace the filters: This is also the best time to check and change furnace filters. If you have clean filters, your HVAC system’s efficiency will improve and it will distribute heat better while cutting on energy costs.

2. Protect Your Plumbing

  • Insulating water lines: Have a look at the water lines and plumbing pipes, particularly those placed on exterior walls. Ensure that they are insulated to prevent frozen pipes and leaks in the winter. Clean lines help to get rid of clogs that can cause backups that freeze, cause pipes to weaken, and burst eventually. Consider wrapping the pipes with insulation meant for plumbing.
  • Drain the water heater: Improve the efficiency of your water heater by approximately 50% by draining all the sediment buildup from the holding tank. Flush the water heater, to ensure that it’s working properly. You can also get professional water heater maintenance if in doubt on what to do.
  • Take out and drain outdoor hoses: You need to detach the outdoor hoses before the first freeze. Any standing water needs to be drained completely and the hose stored appropriately. Additionally, drain the outdoor faucets and close the interior shut-off valves with spigots or hose bibs. This prevents frozen pipes during winter.
  • Water heater maintenance: Water heaters need servicing at least one per year. General maintenance practices include unblocking tight air passages and hydrocarbon sensors, as well as other regular preventative tasks.

3. Seal Your Drafts and Add Insulation

  • Caulk, cover, and weatherstrip: Special attention is needed to take care of drafts around doors or windows, especially if you have not installed energy efficient windows. Replace or add worn-out weather stripping in those spots.
  • Measure insulation: Look at the attic and if you spot exposed joists, ensure to add more insulation. Your location will determine the insulation required. The colder the climate, the more insulation you’ll need.
  • Check on energy waste: During this time, you want to improve the energy efficiency of your home. Schedule a professional energy audit, and get a comprehensive report on insufficient insulation and air leaks that waste energy. From there, you can look for professionals to close all the loopholes.

4. Check the Roof, Gutters, and Chimney

  • Inspect the roof: First things first, perform a visual roof inspection. Ensure that the shingles are in an excellent condition and that none are missing. Look out for sags or dips – they may indicate a problem with the wood placed underneath the roof shingles. In case the roof is old, consider calling a professional roofing contractor to inspect it.
  • Clean the gutters: Dead leaves accumulate quickly and can cause blocked gutters. They can also create backups that lead to water damage or an ice dam during winter. You can hire a professional to take care of the gutter cleaning or do it yourself. Even if they are not clogged at the beginning of fall, check again once the leaves start falling.
  • Plan a chimney sweep: Chimney fire can be caused by creosote buildup, so ensure you get the fireplace and chimney cleaned before you can start using it for winter. Have the chimney inspected, preferably once a year. Note that this will depend on how regular you use it.

5. Cover the Seasonal Lawn Care

  • Get rid of fallen leaves: Dead leaves accumulate and get wet. This can cause mold growth and provide a conducive breeding environment for pests. Fallen leaves also hinder your grass from getting adequate sunlight. Mow, rake, or use a leaf-blower to remove the leaves before snowfall.
  • Wrap up the fall lawn care: In case you would like to have a green lawn, you need to do your prep work now. Fertilize, aerate, and pull out weeds from your lawn. Depending on the kind of grass, you’ll need to fertilize the lawn at least twice this season (at the start and end of the season). If you have bare patches or damaged sections, lay down seeds for new grass as early as possible. When your grass is grown, cut it and leave the lawn at approximately three inches in height over winter.
  • Store your lawn equipment well: You need to drain your gasoline containers, lawn mowers, and other tools and equipment that are gasoline powered. Also, clean all the garden tools and equipment before you hang it up for the coming season. Do not forget to conduct end-of-season lawn mower maintenance, and this includes an oil change.

6. Take Garage Stock

  • Inspect the garage door: Chances are, you will not think a lot about your garage door during winter unless it freezes. That’s why this is the best time to have the garage door inspected just before the cold weather hits. The inspection on the garage door should cover adjusting cables and springs, tightening track, hardware, and hinges, lubricating moving parts, as well as the opener gears and safety sensors.
  • Get rid of items that may freeze: Store paint, adhesives or caulk in a heated area to ensure they don’t freeze. Call the local hazardous material service for instructions on how to dispose of the paint and the other products that might be toxic.
  • Get out your winter gear: This is the ideal time to prepare your snow shovels and other essential winter gear. Ensure that everybody in your household knows where the winter gear is placed in case of an emergency.

Water Heater or Furnace Maintenance? Naugle Plumbing and Heating Can Help

You don’t have to wait until you run out of time to prepare for winter. You can use this awesome list we have outlined.

For all your home HVAC needs, do not hesitate to call Naugle Plumbing and Heating at (517) 423-3121. We are highly trained professionals who are always ready to offer you that much-needed helping hand.