Essential Fall Home Maintenance Guide
4 items that you should check every year.
Fall is an important time to complete an annual exterior checkup of your home. Proper attention early will allow enough time to address any repairs or maintenance required and will help prevent further damage to your property during the colder winter months.
Take a walk! A walk-around is an excellent way to start your exterior check; making note of any potential repairs needed. As you look around, be sure to closely examine all of the following:
WINDOWS & DOORS
Is the caulking around your doors and windows cracked or deteriorated? Is the weather stripping damaged? Poorly fitted or sealed windows and doors can be a major frustration during the winter months, letting cold drafts in and warm air out. In fact, it is estimated that as much as one-third of the average home’s heat loss occurs through windows and doors! With proper inspection and maintenance, your home will be both energy efficient, and watertight.
If your home has siding or wood trim, inspect the painted surfaces to make sure there is no wood showing. Exposed wood will eventually deteriorate and rot, which will likely result in water leakage over time if left unattended. Remember, your home insurance policy will not cover any loss or damage resulting from wear and tear or improper maintenance.
SHINGLES AND FLASHING
Now is the best time to address any potential roof problems, as repairs are a lot easier (and less expensive!) when the shingles are soft and pliable in warmer weather. As you walk around the exterior, keep your eyes open for shingles that are lifted or warn. Pay special attention to flashing in valleys and around the chimney and plumbing stacks. Flashing is designed to protect from water penetration and if lifted or cracked, could easily allow water entry.
Concrete and block foundations typically have at least a few cracks that develop as the concrete cures. The trick is recognizing which are insignificant and which could be a serious problem. Here is a brief guide, listing different types of cracks from least to most serious.
Hairline cracks in the mortar between concrete blocks are rarely worth worrying about.
Cracks in an L-Shape section, such as where the foundation steps down to follow a hillside, are likely shrinkage cracks. These are not typically related to a structural issue but may need to be plugged to keep your basement dry.
Stair-Step cracks in masonry joints are a bigger concern, especially if the wall is bulging or if the crack is wider than ¼ inch.
Horizontal cracks are the most serious. It may be that water-saturated soil froze and expanded, pushing in and breaking the foundation; or you may have soil that expands when damp and contracts when dry.
Foundation problems can lead to expensive repairs, but if discovered early enough, you can save yourself a lot of time and money! A structural engineer will be able to determine whether any of these warning signs are related to structural damage or simply due to normal settling.
Keep in mind, the list above is a general guide to help you get started on your fall home maintenance. If you do notice any major issues, it is always best to consult a professional to make sure you are taking the necessary care to protect and repair your home.
A few more fall maintenance items to remember…
• Perform your final yard care – rake leaves, cut grass, trim trees and shrubs
• Clean your eavestrough and downspouts
• Remove hoses from spigots; drain and store hoses indoors, coiled and flat
• Clean and store outdoor furniture and cushions
• Service and test your snow blower and/or move your shovel to a convenient location
• Clean and cover your air conditioner