When the icy St. Louis winter hits, your home is your escape from the cold outside. But if you don’t follow some basic fall home maintenance duties this autumn, Mother Nature can slip through the cracks and come indoors, bringing the cold and possibly a few chilly critters along with her.
Making sure your home is a fortress against winter weather requires just a small investment of time and money, but it can save you big in energy and repair costs. Maintenance-Free Outdoor Solutions in St. Louis has developed a handy fall home maintenance checklist to help you ensure your house is weather-proofed, water-proofed and pest-proofed all season long.
Your Go-to Fall Home Maintenance Checklist
Protect the Outside
- Give your roof a once-over. The ice and snow of Midwestern winters can wreak havoc on your roof. Before they head our way, check your roof for any damaged or missing shingles and replace them as soon as possible. If you notice any sags among the shingles, contact a roofing contractor to determine if there’s a problem with the roof itself. The weight of a heavy snow can quickly cause those ravaged sections to crash in.
- Examine your fence and deck to make sure they can stand the chilliest of temperatures. If your fence and deck are wood, be sure to stain them as needed to offer protection against ice, snow, and heavy rains. Also, clear away leaves around your posts since soggy, wet vegetation can ramp up rotting. A better option? Switch your wood fence for a vinyl, aluminum, or simulated stone version that can take on winter with zero maintenance on your behalf. Also, replace your wood deck with a capped composite or Cellular PVC deck that will stand up to even the harshest of winters.
- Clean out your gutters. Leaves, debris, and other gunk can block up your gutters and cause backups that leave your roof and siding susceptible to water damage. Take some time this fall to get up on a ladder and clear your gutters and downspouts. Consider covering your gutters with mesh guards to stop debris from visiting in the future.
- Rid your yard of broken limbs. Loose or low-hanging tree branches and limbs can crash into your home during heavy winds or when weighted down with ice. Grab a chainsaw and remove any branches that pose a danger to your roof.
For more backyard prep, check out this related post: Yard Maintenance Checklist for Autumn Prep.
Warm Up Your Home, Put the Chill on Energy Bills
- Start with weather-stripping. Cold air can sneak in through your windows and doors. Seal gaps around the frames with weather-stripping lining, and if needed, place door sweeps at the base of any doors that lead outside. If windows are particularly drafty, consider speaking with a professional about installing protective film on the glass. By arming your doors and windows, you can save up to 15% in energy costs this winter!
- Check your furnace. If your furnace is not working properly, you can quickly feel the effect on your indoor temperatures and your heating bill. Schedule an appointment with an HVAC specialist to inspect your furnace before winter arrives. Also be sure to change out any dirty filters so your system runs efficiently no matter how cold it gets outside.
- Offer your fireplace a little TLC. Love to use your fireplace for warmth and ambiance in the winter? Then be sure it’s clean and in proper working order before lighting up. A professional chimney sweep can inspect your chimney and remove creosote buildup. A simple task such as this can result in a chimney fire if left untreated. He or she can also place a chimney cap to keep birds and squirrels from coming inside.
- Search for gaps. Small gaps in your floors, walls, and door frames are entryways into your home for cold winds and an army of mice. Do a walkthrough to spot any holes and fill them in to ensure the outdoors stays outdoors.
Keep Your Family Safe Inside
- Defend your detectors. Standard protocol suggests changing your smoke detector batteries when you set your clocks back every autumn. But many people forget to check their CO detectors, which can be especially dangerous since faulty heating systems and gas fireplaces can increase your family’s risk of carbon monoxide poisoning in the winter months. Be sure to test them and ensure they’re working properly. Also, check your fire extinguishers as well to make sure they’re charged properly and in good working conditioning. After six years, any fire extinguishers should be replaced.
- Give your dryer vents a good cleaning. The dry air of winter boosts the static electricity in your home, which in turn, can ignite the built-up lint in your dryer vent. A cleaning can remove the lint and help your dryer work more efficiently so your clothes dry faster and your energy costs go down.
- Toss out excess debris. As mentioned, static electricity goes into overdrive during the winter. Check your attics and basements for any old newspapers, boxes or flammable materials that are accumulating around your furnace, dryer or heaters and remove them right away to prevent a common fire hazard.
Keep Water at Bay
- Protect your pipes. If your heating goes out or if the winter is especially cold, your pipes can freeze and burst. And the last thing you want on a chilly day is an icy cold flood in your home. Insulate any exposed water pipes in your house, and if you can, clean out your water lines to remove any backup-causing clogs.
- Drain your water heater. Sediment buildup in your water heater can clog up its pipes over time. By draining out the heater, you remove any residue and deposits, improving its efficiency by up to 50 percent!
- Steer the water away. Holes or low spots in your yard around your home’s foundation can direct water toward your basement. While it’s warm outdoors, fill in any holes and angle them slightly away from your house to protect it in the event of heavy snows this winter.
How Prepared is Your Home?
As a homeowner, you want to keep your house – and your family – safe, comfortable and warm throughout the season. By taking the time to review the fall maintenance checklist and properly preparing your home for the Midwest winter, you can relax in front of the fireplace instead of repairing weather damage. To learn more about easier home and yard care, contact the professionals at Maintenance-Free Outdoor Solutions in St. Louis.
To answer all of your fencing and decking questions, contact the experts at Maintenance-Free Outdoor Solutions in St. Louis, and explore our Maintenance-Free Advantage for St. Louis homeowners.I'm A DIY'er I need full service I'd like a free estimate