Summer can't last forever. The weather has to get cooler. Kids have to go back to school. Summer flowers fade and fall colours take over. Fall reminds us that winter is on its way. This means preparing yourself and your home for the cold and ice and snow.
The most obvious places to pay attention to are your heating and cooling systems. The windows and doors will need attention. "Batten down the hatches!" Don't forget to drain your garden hoses and turn off the valve that serves the outdoor faucet. There are all kinds of fall gardening chores to be done, and you might want to replace your garden furniture instead of storing it. Take advantage of end-of-summer deals. This is a great time to clean out the garage. While you're putting away the summer stuff, you'll rediscover your winter tools and toys. Make sure you have access to a snow shovel for that first surprise snowfall, and put the snow brush in the car.
Before the ice and snow starts, take care of your home and your family. To help, I've prepared this checklist for you:
Fall Home Maintenance
Taking Care of Your Investment (adapted from CMHC by Harry Naghavi, Your Friendly Realtor)
ü Have furnace or heating system professionally serviced every two years for a gas furnace, and every year for an oil furnace, or as recommended by the manufacturer.
ü Disconnect the power to the furnace and examine the forced-air furnace fan belt, if installed, for wear, looseness or noise; clean fan blades of any dirt buildup.
ü If you have central air conditioning, make sure the drain pan under the cooling coil mounted in the furnace plenum is draining properly and is clean.
ü I f you have a hot water heating system, lubricate the circulating pump.
ü Bleed hot water radiators.
ü Check chimneys for obstructions such as nests.
ü Vacuum electric baseboard heaters to remove dust.
ü Remove the grilles on forced-air systems and vacuum inside the ducts.
ü Turn ON gas furnace pilot light (if your furnace has one), set the thermostat to “heat” and test the furnace for proper operation by raising the thermostat setting until the furnace starts to operate. Once you have confirmed proper operation, return the thermostat to the desired setting.
ü Check and clean or replace furnace air filters each month during the heating season. Ventilation system, such as heat recovery ventilator, filters should be checked every two months.
ü Check to see that the ductwork leading to and from the heat recovery ventilator is in good condition, the joints are tightly sealed (aluminum tape or mastic) and any duct insulation and plastic duct wrap is free of tears and holes.
ü If the heat recovery ventilator has been shut off for the summer, clean the filters and the core, and pour water down the condensate drain to test it.
ü Check to see that bathroom exhaust fans and range hoods are operating properly. If possible, confirm that you are getting good airflow by observing the outside vent hood (the exterior damper should be held open by the airflow). See the About Your House fact sheet CMHC Garbage Bag Airflow Test for a simple way to estimate the airflow.
ü Check smoke, carbon monoxide and security alarms, and replace batteries.
ü Clean portable humidifiers.
ü Check sump pump and line to ensure proper operation, and to check for line obstructions or leaks.
ü Replace window screens with storm windows.
ü Remove interior insect screens from windows to allow air from the heating system to keep condensation off window glass and to allow more free solar energy into your home.
ü Ensure that windows and skylights close tightly; repair or replace weatherstripping, as needed.
ü Ensure all doors to the outside shut tightly, and check other doors for ease of use. Replace door weatherstripping if required.
ü If there is a door between your house and the garage, check the adjustment of the self-closing device to ensure it closes the door completely.
ü Cover outside of air-conditioning units and shut off power.
ü Ensure that the ground around your home slopes away from the foundation wall, so that water does not drain into your basement.
ü Clean leaves from eavestroughs and roof, and test downspouts to ensure proper drainage from the roof.
ü Drain and store outdoor hoses. Close interior valve to outdoor hose connection and drain the hose bib (exterior faucet), unless your house has frost-proof hose bibs.
ü Have well water tested for quality. It is recommended that you test for bacteria every six months.
ü If you have a septic tank, measure the sludge and scum to determine if the tank needs to be emptied before the spring. Tanks should be pumped out at least once every three years.
ü Winterize landscaping, for example, store outdoor furniture, prepare gardens and, if necessary, protect young trees or bushes for winter.