The changing leaves and cooler temperatures – yes, they will come soon – are your signal that it’s time to tackle your fall maintenance and get your home ready for winter. It’s a good idea to clear many of the items on your list before Halloween, to minimize any hazards for young trick or treaters.
For most of us, our home is the largest investment we will make. That’s why it’s important to take care of it. And the best way to do that is through regular and preventative maintenance.
If the list seems daunting, try setting up a routine that tackles your checklist of ongoing and fall maintenance in smaller chunks. It makes the work easier to get done and won’t seem as time-consuming. Remember, having a regular schedule can put a stop to the most common, and often most costly, problems before they can happen.
You can download a comprehensive checklist from the National Home Warranty Group here, or go with our abbreviated list for you:
Regular checks, not just for fall
- Make sure air intake and exhaust vents are clear of debris.
- Check and clean range hood filters monthly.
- Test ground fault circuit interrupters on electrical outlets each month (push the test button, which makes the reset button to pop up).
- If you have young kids, check electrical outlets for safety plugs.
- Keep an eye out for safety hazards, like loose handrails or buckled flooring.
- Check your smoke detectors monthly to make sure they are working (and replace batteries this fall).
For the fall
- If you’re on gas, your furnace should be cleaned and inspected at least every two years (yearly is fine, too) and every year for oil furnaces.
- If you have hot water radiators, bleed the air from them.
- Check chimneys for obstructions such as nests. If you have a wood-burning fireplace that you like to use in winter, get it professionally cleaned.
- If you have electric baseboard heaters, vacuum them to remove dust. If your heating uses ducts, remove the grilles and vacuum inside the ducts.
- If you have not yet used your furnace for the season, turn ON your gas furnace pilot light, if there is one, set the thermostat to “heat” and test the furnace.
- Once the heating season starts, clean or replace furnace air filters each month. The filters on ventilation systems such as a heat recovery ventilator (HRV) should be checked every two months.
- Make sure the joints on your HRV ductwork are tightly sealed and any insulation has no tears. And if your HRV has been shut off for the summer, clean the filters and the core, and test it.
- Check that bathroom exhaust fans and range hoods are working well, with good airflow (the exterior damper should be held open by the airflow).
- Remove interior window screens to allow air from the heating system to keep condensation off window glass and to allow more solar energy into your home.
- Make sure doors, windows and skylights close tightly; repair or replace weather stripping if needed.
- Cover your air conditioner and shut off the power.
- Ensure that the ground around your home slopes away from the foundation (so that water does not drain into your basement).
- Clean leaves from the eavestroughs and roof, and test downspouts for proper drainage from the roof.
- Drain and store outdoor hoses. Close interior valves to outdoor hose connections and drain the hose bib (exterior faucet), unless your house has frost-proof hose bibs.
- Winterize landscaping (store outdoor furniture, prepare gardens, protect young trees or bushes for winter, etc.).
- Remove debris and leaves from window wells to allow for proper drainage.
And especially for Halloween
- Clear walkways. Don’t forget, it will be dark and most visitors will not be familiar with your home.
- Avoid using candles. Paper and straw decorations as well as costumes can easily catch fire. Use battery-operated candles and lights instead.
- Use lots of lights to make access to your door easier.
- Keep pets contained. Barking dogs can frighten little ones.
A final note: If you’re not comfortable tackling some of these items or don’t have the necessary equipment, consider hiring a qualified handyperson to help you.
If you need referrals to a list of contractors who can help you, call or email Jethro Seymour.
Jethro Seymour, one of the Top Davisville Village Real Estate Brokers at Royal LePage RES Ltd., Johnston & Daniel Division . Jethro Seymour is a midtown Toronto residential specialist with over 20 years of sales experience in real estate, marketing, construction and publishing. He has helped many families find homes in Toronto’s great neighbourhoods, and has extensive knowledge of local markets, new home construction, resale home sales, and the condo market. Living in midtown Toronto, Jethro previews many of the homes that come to market for his clients and inventory knowledge. Jethro specializes in Midtown, Davisville Village and Leaside neighbourhoods.