As a first-time homeowner, it can be challenging to know exactly what needs to be done around the house every season. Fall is probably one of the most important times to focus on maintenance, as the upcoming winter can create many issues that are expensive and difficult to remedy. This short guide will help you start your checklist for keeping your house in tip-top shape this fall.
1. Clean Gutters and Downspouts
It’s essential to keep your gutters and downspouts free of leaves and other debris year-round, but this problem can compound in the fall when most species of trees begin to shed their leaves. Leaves can clog up the drains, which not only creates unwanted smells but can also cause water damage to the exterior of your home. Additionally, if not correctly maintained, gutters can become heavy and fall off, which can cause more damage to whatever is below.
The best time for cleaning gutters is in the fall season. This is because you want to wait until leaves have fallen, but before there is snow on the ground (the latter could cause ice dams to form in your gutters, which in turn may make them split or fall off from the weight).
While you’re up there, check the general condition of your gutters and downspouts. Make sure they’re securely attached at the ends with hardware designed specifically for holding downspout pipes together. Note that many metal brackets sold at hardware stores today aren’t made to last more than five years, so you’ll need specific guttering hardware that can weather the elements.
Also, ensure there aren’t any holes where water flows out from under each gutter’s edge. According to experts at Gutter Supply, these hidden horrors are one of the leading causes of water damage to the interior of a house.
2. Inspect Your Roof
Your roof is one of the most important parts of your home. You want to ensure it is in good shape and functioning correctly. Here are some things you can do to check on its condition:
- Check for loose or missing shingles. Look for areas where there are gaps between the shingles, which may be a sign that some of them are coming off. Some may be able to be slid back in place, but others may need replacement. If you need to take them off, you can usually pop up the shingle with a flat-head screwdriver or pry bar; if it doesn’t budge, you might have to get a roofing expert to replace that area completely.
- Check for damaged flashing around vents, chimneys, and pipes sticking up through your roofline (such as chimneys and air conditioning ducts). Any damage could let water get into spaces where it shouldn’t go—causing rot and mold damage inside your home over time—so teat mold and fix these spots immediately by replacing any damaged flashing or installing new pieces as necessary. Gutter Supply experts typically recommend for first-time homeowners that an expert is called in, though you can buy supplies yourself if needed.
3. Clean Windows and Siding
Fall is the perfect time to clean windows and siding on your home, as many window cleaning solutions help prevent water spots and stains on glass and plastics, which will be helpful when the rains come! Here are some tips for doing it right:
- Wash your windows with a soft cloth, water and vinegar solution, or an all-purpose cleaner to remove dirt and dust and prevent dirt buildup over time.
- Use a squeegee after washing your windows—this will help remove excess water so that the window pane doesn’t dry streaky.
- If stubborn stains emerge during this process, use a power washer (or a hose if you don’t have one) directed at the affected area until all the remaining grime has been removed. You can also use a coarse brush dipped in warm, sudsy water if necessary, but only use this on plastic or wood siding—glass might scratch.
4. Check for Foundation Cracks
Problems will emerge all over your house if you don’t have a solid foundation. You must check your foundation regularly, so make doing so a habit in your fall maintenance routine. Here are some things to check for:
- Look at your home’s exterior, and see if you can find any cracks. These may be caused by settling or shifting soil, but they can also indicate a structural problem that needs to be addressed immediately.
- If there are no visible cracks outside of your house, check inside—you might be surprised at what you find! Issues in the walls might be indicated by paint cracks, crumpled wallpaper, or uneven door and window frames.
- Look around your basement or crawl space and ensure everything looks as you expect. There shouldn’t be any leaks from pipes, water heaters, or any other heating or cooling equipment you have down there. Check the walls for dampness, too.
- Look for signs of mold growth; it’s common for moisture buildup inside a basement or crawlspace to cause mold growth, which could result in health problems for anyone who lives in the house.
When the Work is Over, Enjoy your Fall Season!
One of the true joys of home ownership is just enjoying being there. Once you’ve checked off your maintenance tasks, make sure to spend time in your space and get your friends and family around for all the fun that fall brings. You’ve earned it, after all!