Proper home maintenance in the fall is essential in Canada, given the impending harsh winter weather. By addressing certain areas, homeowners can ensure safety, increase energy efficiency, and prevent potential costly repairs. Here’s a checklist for fall home maintenance in Canada:
1. Exterior Maintenance:
- Roof: Check for loose or missing shingles, as well as signs of wear or damage. Clear any debris.
- Gutters: Clean out leaves, twigs, and any debris. Ensure downspouts are directing water away from the foundation. Consider installing leaf guards.
- Windows & Doors: Check seals and weatherstripping. Replace any that are damaged or missing to prevent drafts and increase energy efficiency.
- Foundation: Inspect for cracks or damage. Seal any small cracks; larger issues may require professional attention.
- Faucets & Hoses: Drain and disconnect outdoor hoses. Turn off exterior faucets and drain them. Consider insulating faucets for added protection against freezing.
- Landscaping: Trim trees and shrubs away from the house and power lines. Rake and dispose of leaves.
- Deck & Patio: Check for loose boards or railings. Clean and store outdoor furniture. Consider a protective sealant if your deck needs it.
- Driveway & Walkways: Fill cracks and seal them to prevent further damage from freezing and thawing.
2. Interior Maintenance:
- Furnace & Heating: Replace or clean the furnace filter. Consider getting the system professionally serviced to ensure it’s running efficiently.
- Fireplace: Check for blockages. Clean and inspect your chimney; consider hiring a professional chimney sweep.
- Smoke & Carbon Monoxide Detectors: Test them and replace batteries if needed.
- Ceiling Fans: Reverse the direction (so it rotates clockwise) to push warm air down.
- Water Heater: Flush out sediment. Inspect for leaks or rust.
- Drafts: Check for drafts around windows, doors, and electrical outlets. Use caulk or weatherstripping where necessary.
- Basement: Check for moisture or mold. Run a dehumidifier if needed.
3. General Preparations:
- Emergency Kit: Ensure you have a winter emergency kit. This should include things like flashlights, batteries, bottled water, non-perishable food items, blankets, and first-aid supplies.
- Winter Gear: Check the condition of winter clothing, boots, and gear. Make them easily accessible.
- Snow Removal Equipment: Ensure snow blowers are in working order and you have an adequate supply of ice melt or sand.
4. Pest Prevention:
- Seal Entry Points: Check for small holes or cracks where rodents or insects could enter. Seal them.
- Pest Control: Consider treatments or traps for common fall pests.
5. Attic and Insulation:
- Insulation: Check the condition of your insulation to ensure it’s still effective. Top up if necessary. Proper insulation can significantly reduce heating costs.
- Ventilation: Ensure attic vents aren’t obstructed. Proper ventilation prevents ice dams from forming on the roof and reduces moisture accumulation.
- Pests: Look for signs of rodents or insects in the attic. They might seek the warmth of your home as temperatures drop.
- Pipes: Insulate any exposed pipes to prevent them from freezing. This is especially crucial in basements, garages, and crawl spaces.
- Sump Pump: If you have one, test it to ensure it’s functioning correctly. This can be crucial if you experience heavy rains or rapid snow melts.
7. General Cleaning:
- Air Vents: Dust and clean all air vents, including bathroom fans, to improve air quality and efficiency.
- Carpets & Rugs: Consider a deep clean. As you’ll likely be spending more time indoors, this can improve indoor air quality.
- Dryer Vent: Clean the lint from the entire dryer vent system to reduce the risk of fires.
8. Yard and Garden:
- Garden: Harvest any remaining vegetables. Prep the garden for next year by removing old plants, adding compost, and mulching.
- Lawn: Fertilize the lawn with a fall lawn fertilizer to promote root growth and ensure a green lawn in spring.
- Tools: Clean and store summer gardening tools. Ensure snow shovels and other winter tools are accessible.
9. Energy Efficiency:
- Thermostat: If you don’t have one, consider installing a programmable thermostat. This can save on heating costs by reducing temperatures when you’re not home or during the night.
- Window Insulation Kits: If you have older windows, these kits can provide an added barrier against cold drafts.
- Winterize AC Unit: If you have a central AC unit outside, cover it to protect it from winter weather. If you use window units, remove or cover them.
- Vacation Preparation: If you plan to be away during the winter, even for a short trip, have a plan to prevent pipes from freezing. This might include setting the thermostat to a specific temperature or having someone check on your home.
11. Garage and Shed:
- Organize: As the season changes, rearrange tools and equipment. Make sure winter tools like snow shovels, ice scrapers, and snow blowers are easily accessible, and summer items are stored away.
- Weatherproofing: Check for drafts in your garage or shed. If your garage is attached to your home, proper sealing can save on heating costs.
- Snow Blower Maintenance: If you own one, ensure it’s in working order. Check oil levels, spark plugs, and give it a test run.
12. Safety Measures:
- Fire Extinguishers: Check the expiration date on your fire extinguishers. Make sure they’re easily accessible and in working order.
- Escape Plan: Review or create a fire escape plan. With the increased use of heating devices and fireplaces, winter has an elevated risk of household fires.
- First-Aid Kit: Restock any used or expired items. Make sure it’s easily accessible and family members know its location.
13. Personal Care:
- Medications: Ensure you have a sufficient stock of essential medicines. In case of extreme weather where leaving the house might not be feasible for days, you’ll want a good supply on hand.
- Skin Care: Stock up on moisturizers and lip balms. The Canadian winter can be harsh on the skin due to cold outdoor air and dry indoor heating.
- Winter Tires: If applicable, switch to winter tires. They provide better traction in snowy and icy conditions.
- Emergency Kit: Every vehicle should have a winter emergency kit. This should include items like blankets, non-perishable snacks, water, jumper cables, a flashlight, a small shovel, and sand or kitty litter for traction.
- Maintenance: Check antifreeze levels, battery health, and wiper blades. Ensure your car’s heating system is functioning well.
15. Miscellaneous Preparations:
- Holiday Decor: If you celebrate the holidays, this might be the time to ensure all your decorations are in order, and lights are working.
- Pantry Stock-Up: As the winter approaches, stock up on non-perishable foods like canned goods, pasta, and grains. In the event of a heavy snowstorm that might keep you indoors, you’ll have plenty of food on hand.
Remember, proactive fall maintenance can help prevent unexpected issues during the winter months. By addressing these tasks in the fall, homeowners can ensure a more comfortable and hassle-free winter season.