FALL CHECKLIST to WINTERIZE YOUR HOME
Friday Sep 11th, 2020
As winter is fast approaching, it's the perfect time to begin thinking about all the tasks that need to be considered in order to propertly prepare your home for winter. Fall is the time to take care of things like outdoor repairs, landscaping or exterior updates before it gets too cold to do so. Here is a fall home maintenance checklist to help you prepare your home for winter by ensuring that your house stays protected, efficient and warm all winter long.
The following 3 maintenance categories should be every home owner's focus in the fall of each year:
Exterior Home Checks
Interior Home Checks
1. Landscape Tasks
Lawn Care: Continue to water & even fertilize your lawn right up until the first frost settles in. This helps prevent potential winter diseases. Seed & fertilize any dead spots. Continue to mow until the first frost and keep grass short, around 2.5 inches. Mow about 3 or 4 times prior to the first frost and shorten the grass by one-third at most each time you cut it...don't cut it short all in the first fall mow.
Trim Shrubs & Trees: An important plant care rule to follow in the fall...never prune. Instead, wait till midwinter or even early spring to prune. Any earlier and it risks harming future growth or even prematurely killing the plant. Wait until the plants have begun to go dormant before pruning. Once dormant, it will encourage new root growth & help the plant survive the winter. Trim any dead debris like leaves or broken branches so that strong winter winds won't knock the branches loose and cause potential damage.
Add Mulch to Young Trees & Plants: Fall is the best season to plant new trees - anytime between August & October. Not having the summer heat encourages new trees to focus their growth on establishing a strong root system so they can survive the winter. Some pre-winter prep is great for newly planted trees & shrubs. Add a layer of mulch over the soil as this will help the plants to conserve moisture even as the ground freezes. Plus, it helps prevent weeds from springing up during the new period.
Clear Away Final Debris: Take time to remove any small rocks or sticks and store cables & hoses indoors. Clear any pathways and do a final rake of the lawn so that any last leaves are cleared away. Thick layers of leaves can risk smothering the lawn or plants and kill them. Trapped moisture can also lead to mould growing beneath the snow.
2. Exterior Home Checks
Inspect the Roof & Attic: Do a thorough inspection of the roof and attic before winter. Any leaks or roof damage should be repaired to prevent water damage or costly heat loss. Ensure the flashing around the chimney and ventilation is in working order and hasn't been damaged. Make sure the attic is sealed & ventilation is in working order. Ice-dams form when the snow melts on the roof but then refreezes before draining. The build-up of ice along the edge of the roof can cause severe damage to the roof structure, the insulation and even cause interior water damage. Proper attic ventilation pulls in cold air and pushes out hot air to prevent moisture from becoming trapped inside. If you are not familiar with how to go about inspecting your roof and attic, have a professional do the job for you. Roof & attic inspections should be performed annually.
Clear & Clean Gutters: Regularly ensure your gutters are clean & clear of debris. If gutters can't drain properly it risks breaking and flooding and causing costly water damage. Handle any repairs that you may find right away - no matter how minor they seem. Gutter gaurds are a great way to further protect your gutters year round and they make cleaning easier. You still need to inspect & clean your gutters even if you have gutter gaurds.
Seal Gaps & Leaks: A tiny gap is a perfect opportunity for mice, bats or other small animals to get into your home. Once inside, they'll make your home, their home ...and don't expect a monthly rent cheque! lol Check around windows, doors, the foundation and around cables and gas lines for small openings. If you find any, use steel wool to seal it and then add caulking to keep it in place. Larger holes can be sealed with cement, hardware cloth or metal sheets. Check to see if window caulking is worn or damaged and repair it. For doors, ensure there is no visible daylight around the frame. Apply weather stripping to seal it and prevent heat loss or cold air from getting in. A cheap trick and great way to trap heat in a room is to buy door snakes and place them at the base of any door.
Protect Equipment & Turn Off the Water: It's important to avoid allowing water to remain in any pipes or garden hoses so they don't freeze during the winter. If that happens, the water will swell as it freezes and risks bursting and causing costly damage and repairs. Turn off any exterior faucets to prevent that and carefully drain and store any outdoor hoses. Also remember to winterize your outdoor grill if you don't plan on using it and shut off the gas line. Clean everything and coat any metal parts with a moisture repellant to prevent rust from setting in. Cover it to protect it against the snow and cold. Any outdoor AC units should be carefully winterized and it doesn't hurt to have it professionally inspected so that its ready to use in the sprint & summer...with no surprises! Ensure the power is turned off if you have one and cover the unit with a waterproof cover. Remember to clear away any snow build-up throughout the winter.
3. Interior Home Checks
Now that you've made everything outside winter ready, it's time to focus on the inside. Generally, interior home maintenance is split between system checks & safety checks for the winter.
Test Smoke & Carbon Monoxide Detectors: Before the snow falls, test all the carbon monoxide & smoke detectors you have in your home. Ensure they are clean & dust-free & remember to change the batteries. Carbon monoxide is a particularly dangerous gas as it is colourless & oudourless & deadly if inhaled. Carbon monoxide detectors should be located on each floor of your home and in any attached garage. There should be one outside every bedroom, or have one in the hallway shared by each bedroom. Remember, they should be installed at knee height or lower and not on the ceiling like a smoke alarm. Carbon monoxide does not rise like smoke. Smoke alarms can follow the same layout. If you're uncertain where to put your smoke alarms, consult a smoke alarm professional.
Furnace Inspection, Cleaning & Filter Replacement: Make sure your furnace is winter ready by bringing in a professional to inspect & maintain your furnace before the cold season sets in. They'll check all the parts of the funace and make sure its all working. A professional will also clean your furnace if required and replace the furnace filters. If left unattended, it can shorten the lifspan of your furnace as well as waste energy. Have your air filters and air ducts professionally cleaned & inspected. As windows and doors will be shut all winter season, you'll want to be sure your indoor air quality is safe & clean throughout the season - specially if there are people with allergies living in your home.
Check Your Winter Supplies: Ensure that you have all your winter supplies in order. Do you have a good snow shovel that's in good condition? If you use a snowblower make sure you've checked it and have it ready for winter use. Make sure your car is winter-ready with a windshield scraper, small shovel, blanket and emergency kit in the trunk.
Don't Do It All Alone: Remember, not every task is a DYI. Some things really are better left to the pros. Nothing wrong with having peace-of-mind that your home is safe & ready for winter!
I hope this information has inspired you to winterizing your home, so it stays protected, efficient & warm all winter long.