As autumn paints the world with hues of amber and gold, homeowners are faced with a pivotal task: fall maintenance. Beyond the charm of leaves crunching beneath your boots, this season plays a crucial role in the well-being of your home. Your home must be able to weather the impending frost with resilience. So as the leaves fall, clear a Saturday schedule (not Sunday- Sundays are for football) for some important chores. 

Exterior Maintenance

Clean Gutters and Downspouts:

Clearing debris from gutters is a chore that can be rather mundane, but it’s an important safeguard against potential havoc in the heart of your home. Removing debris is like unclogging the arteries of your house. Gutters, acting as the circulatory system, require unobstructed pathways to channel rainwater efficiently. When debris accumulates, it forms a barrier, impeding the flow and transforming gutters into potential breeding grounds for problems. Leaves, twigs, and dirt create a dam-like effect, leading to clogs that can cause water to overflow. If left unchecked this overflow will freeze during the winter. This can compromise the structural integrity of your home, leading to water damage, leaks, and even foundation issues. 

Inspect Roof:

Madison sees heavy snowfall in the winter months. Large loads of snow on your rooftop can lead to shingle damage. Inspect your roof for damaged or missing shingles before the first snowfall. Address any potential leaks. If your home has a history of ice dams (ice build-up that prevents snow from sliding off your roof) consider installing heating cables. 

Trim Trees and Shrubs:

Scan your property for overhanging branches. Snow and ice are heavy (they can weigh more than 20 pounds per cubic foot!). This means that in the event of a winter storm, tree branches are likely to snap. If that happens, make sure that the branches don’t fall on your home. Shrubberies are less dangerous, but still worthwhile to trim. Ensuring proper clearance from the house means that your foundation is less likely to see water damage during the melt and re-freeze cycle. 

HVAC System and Energy Efficiency

Furnace Inspection:

Before you turn on your furnace for the season, hire a professional to inspect it for safety and efficiency. A well-maintained furnace operates more efficiently, using less energy to produce the desired level of heat. This not only reduces your energy bills but contributes to a more sustainable and environmentally friendly home. Trained technicians can identify potential issues during an inspection before they escalate into major problems.

SealWindows and Doors:

It’s much easier to keep a warm and cozy home through the winter if you’ve properly sealed your home. Check your doors and windows for drafts. If any gaps are found use weatherstripping and caulking to improve your insulation. 

Chimney and Fireplace Maintenance:

There’s nothing cozier than curling up in front of the fireplace on a snowy winter day. But before you can make that dream a reality, it’s important to make sure it’s safe to use. Both gas and wood-burning fireplaces require a yearly cleaning and inspection before the first fire of the season. Proper ventilation and cleanliness will protect you from house fires, respiratory problems, and carbon monoxide poisoning. 

Testing Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Detectors:

Check and inspect your smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors. Change all batteries if needed. 

Plumbing and Insulation

Checking for Leaks:

Do a quick inspection of your faucets, pipes, and water heater. Check for any signs of leaks and fix any errors promptly to avoid pipe issues with the first freeze.

Draining Outdoor Faucets and Sprinkler Systems:

Prevent freezing and potential pipe damage by draining your outdoor faucets or any gardening irrigation systems. Be sure to store your equipment properly so it can be used again in the spring. 

Lawn and Garden

Fall Lawn Care:

Your lawn doesn’t die in the winter. It goes dormant and enters a fragile state. Aerating your lawn in the fall will ensure a healthy lawn in the Spring. If you’re a gardener, clean up any plants that show signs of disease or rot. Remove any invasive weeds and add some fertilizer or compost to the soil. 

Winterize Outdoor Furniture:

Outdoor furniture can be easily ruined in the winter months. Clean off all the summer pollen and properly store your outdoor furniture in a covered area to prevent  wear and tear.

You’re all set!

Pre-winter home maintenance is crucial for any responsible homeowner. If done every year, you can insulate yourself from costly repairs down the road. A well-maintained home will hold its value and, of course, you’ll remain safer and more comfortable throughout the brutal Wisconsin winter. For more home maintenance tips and advice, you can always reach out to The Hub team.