After the heat and humidity of summer, fall is a refreshing and invigorating season that puts homeowners in the mood to get projects underway. Before the weather gets too cold, use your free time to prepare your house and yard for winter. Get started on your fall home maintenance early, so you’ll have plenty of time to enjoy a guilt-free walk among the falling leaves or a cup of cocoa curled up next to a cozy fire.
Get Out The Wood Preservative
Your timber frame house is really a very low-maintenance home, and you don’t need to re-coat your wood surfaces every year to keep them protected and looking fresh. If you’ve used natural oils such as linseed or Tung oil to protect your interior wood, fall is a perfect time to re-coat those surfaces.
If this is the year to do your interior wood surfaces, prepare the wood by removing all dust and dirt from the surfaces. Using a roller or pad, oil your wood according to the manufacturer’s recommendations. Make sure to open doors and windows to keep odors at a minimum and to speed the drying time of the product.
Get Out The Caulking Gun
The blazing sun can dry and crack the caulking around your home. Check your foundation to see that caulking between your masonry and timbers is in good condition. Other areas to check are where pipes and wires enter your home. If caulking is starting to fail, pry out loose or damaged areas and re-caulk with the appropriate caulking compound.
Check caulking around your windows and doors. Since you’re up there, remove the screens and install your storm windows. Clean and repair the screens, and store them in your basement or garage.
Get Out The Ladder
Once again, it’s time to clean out the gutters. Wait until the leaves have fallen, then clean and flush the gutters and downspouts. Check the joints for leaks and tighten mounting brackets. If you need to replace gutters, consider those with built-in leaf guards.
Get Out The Weatherstripping
If you’ve lived in your house for a number of years, you may need to replace your weatherstripping. Doors and windows should be checked to make sure the stripping is undamaged and makes a solid seal against drafts. Check the weatherstripping around your garage door, as this can be a significant area of drafts and an entry point for small animals.
Get Out The Phone Book
It’s time for your annual chimney cleaning and inspection. Although you can do it yourself, it’s a job that many leave to the experts. Creosote is highly flammable, and a buildup poses the risk of a chimney fire. You should also inspect your fireplace insert’s door. Make sure the gasket has a tight seal and there are no cracks in the glass.
Get Out The Ladder
During your fall home maintenance, reverse the direction of your ceiling fans. You now want to create an updraft to move the warm air near the ceiling down to the floor. This can actually reduce winter energy costs as much as 15 percent.
Get Out The Rake
Prepare your yard and garden for winter. Remove all leaves, plant spring bulbs and reseed lawn areas that have become sparse or patchy. If you’re in a rural area where deer use your property for winter forage, deer-proof your plants with netting and chicken wire.
You should also inspect shrubbery and trees around your house. Make sure summer growth doesn’t rub against the structure. Trim away overgrown bushes and tree limbs, as branches rubbing against your timber frame home can damage your stain, sealant and paint. This abrasion can leave your wood open to further damage from water and ice.
Fall Home Maintenance – Get Organized
Clean and store outdoor furniture. Make any necessary repairs now, so they’re ready to go next spring. If you’re a fair-weather griller, clean and store your barbecue grill where it’s dry and protected.
Clean your summer garden tools and store them. Drain hoses, in-ground sprinkling system, and shut outdoor water valves. Drain fuel from gas-operated yard equipment like leaf blowers, chainsaws and lawn mowers.
Prepare your snow equipment and check that your snow blower is tuned up and ready for use.
Now that the house is ready to button up for winter, you’ve got time to plan for fall festivities like tailgate parties and football games. Dig out your sweater, a thermos for hot apple cider and cheer the local team on to victory.