As summer travel plans wind down and the kids go back to school, it’s a good time to start thinking about home maintenance. We might not get snow storms in the Bay Area, but winter can bring lots of rain and strong winds, both of which can turn a minor problem like dead tree branches or loose roof tiles into a major one.
To make sure your home is ready for wetter and windier weather, here are some fall maintenance items you’ll want to check off your “to do” list.
Trees are mostly dormant during fall and winter so it’s a good time for pruning as they’re less susceptible to disease. If you have a lot of trees on your property, it’s a good idea to hire an arborist to do the pruning. They’re trained to spot the signs of sick trees (either by pest or disease) and they’ll know how to prune the trees so that branches don’t become hazardous in the case of high winds and rain.
Gutters and Downspouts
During summer and fall, gutters and downspouts have a tendency to get clogged with leaves, pine needles, birds nests, children’s toys-- you name it, someone’s probably found it. This isn’t necessarily a problem when the weather’s nice, but in a rainstorm, a clogged gutter or downspout can cause water to pool and end up damaging your roof or siding. So it’s important to clear these out before the first rain.
To figure out what needs fixing, take a slow walk around your house. Look for cracked, loose or missing roof tiles, damaged siding, loose or damaged railings or stairs, cracks in your driveway or foundation, and any holes in the exterior of the home. A damaged roof or siding can lead to leaks, damaged railings, stairs and foundations are safety issues and exterior holes can lead to pests. As the weather cools, rodents like mice will sneak through the smallest of holes to find warmth inside your home, and could wreak havoc on your pantry. If you have a chimney, you might also want to consider a cap to keep these animals from crawling down it and into your living room.
Check Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Detectors
Make sure each sensor is working and has fresh batteries. It might also be a good idea to get the radon tested in your home. As the weather cools, windows stay shut more often and radon can build up in a home. If your home is shown to have high radon, hire a contractor to help you fix any issues.
Clean Your Chimney
If you have a fireplace, congratulations! Cozying up in front of the fire on a cold day or night is one of life’s great pleasures. However, if your chimney hasn’t been cleaned, you could end up starting a fire in your chimney that could spread to your home. Luckily cleaning your chimney is something you can do yourself or you can hire a handyman to do it for you.
Clean your Furnace or Boiler
Regular boiler and furnace maintenance can not only lower your heating bills and extend the life of your heating system, it can also prevent a fire. Like your chimney, you can clean your furnace or boiler yourself, or you can call a professional to help you.
If you want to tackle some or all of these items yourself, there’s a world of DIY help on Youtube. But remember calling a professional is always a good option. Home maintenance may not be the most glamorous part of fall, but after that first rainstorm or chilly night, you’ll be glad you did it.