Your dream home is a major investment, so taking the time to do periodic maintenance checks, especially before the weather becomes too chilly, is a great idea to save you time and money in the long run. We may even have a tip or two that hadn’t come to mind, as well as some handy reminders; keep reading!
Know What You are Looking For
We subscribe to the “the best defense is a great offense” philosophy for taking care of your home. Knowing how to do your own home inspection is first on our list. You, of course, know your home the best, so take some inspiration from our home insurance experts on what they would look for in a typical inspection to get you started. Bring a tape measure, incense (we will explain later), a notepad, and your phone or a camera to take pics. This will serve you best when prioritizing what needs to be done, determining what you can DIY, and what will need professional attention.
Clean the Chimney and Fireplace
We suggest hiring a chimney sweep to clear out excess rubbish. This isn’t a task for the faint of heart. Only attempt to DIY this if you are very comfortable with heights, love prolonged physical labor, have some experience, and are a patient individual. That is why sometimes calling in the experts is your best bet. They have the expertise and proper tools, and you will be supporting a small business. Regardless of how you get it done, checking this chore off of your list can help prevent potential chimney fires, damage to your fireplace and ensure fireplace efficiency throughout the season.
Check Your Windows and Doors for Drafts/Leaks
Did you take your time during your inspection to feel around doors and windows for any drafts or leaks? Experts suggest using incense (see, we told you we would explain) to hold around door and window seals. If the smoke whirls around instead of rising straight up, that’s evidence of an air leak. Take this opportunity to install or replace weatherstripping around doors, windows, and even around air conditioning units if there isn’t already good weatherstripping in place. This will help prevent cold air from entering the home, saving you anywhere from 5-20 percent in energy costs. This project is fairly easy to complete yourself; just make sure to measure the areas that will require weatherstripping so that you don’t fall short on supplies.
Clean Out Gutters & Install Gutter Guards
Even though cleaning the gutters tops the list of chores that homeowners typically avoid, according to our recent homeowner survey, once you have done it a few times, you will see that cleaning your gutters isn’t all that difficult. The next time it rains, you’ll see immediate benefits, including preventing rainwater from gathering on the roof, moving it away from the foundation, and doing away with clogs that could create ice dams during the cold weather months. Checking this item off your home maintenance checklist is definitely worth the effort.
We know, out-of-sight-out-of-mind, right? Flip the script on this easily avoided chore and take the time to install gutter guards. These easy-to-install devices will save you tons of time and energy in the future. Most gutter guards snap right into place, and while they aren’t a set-it-and-forget-it fix, they cut the chore time dramatically.
Trim Trees and Bushes
Outdoor chores are way more enjoyable before temperatures drop too far down the thermometer. With a hand saw or trimmers, work through the trees and shrubs to remove any branches or twigs that appear dead, dying, broken or unstable. Next, cut out small or medium-sized branches growing across each other, back towards the trunk or at a downward angle. These can all turn hazardous through fall and winter storms. Consider hiring a professional tree-trimmer to take care of very tall trees, as they’re properly equipped to get the job done safely.
Clear and Mulch Exterior Garden Planters
We have all fallen in love with #plantlife and the positive impacts of having green spaces around our homes. These outdoor spaces do require a little extra love and attention before the temperatures fall. First, take stock of all the different flora you’ve grown. Identify which plants, like herbs, will have to be brought inside. You should also determine if any of your more robust plants, like ferns, have outgrown their space and need to be divided and relocated. This is also the perfect time to decide if you will replace any summer annuals with winter flowers. Remove any dead plant debris and clean up and around these areas to prep for laying down a nice even layer of mulch. Mulch provides insulation for your greenery, making it easier for plants to retain heat when temperatures drop.
Aerate and Reseed Your Lawn
Now is the time if you have been looking to lay down some cool-season grasses like rye or fescue. If that’s not in the cards, this is still the optimal time to aerate and reseed your lawn for the following spring. Believe it or not, planting seeds in the fall and winter will give your grass seed more opportunity to germinate, developing a better root system allowing a better effect come spring.
Clean to Store Patio Furniture and Grill
It may seem early to clean and put away the outdoor furniture, but all good seasons must come to an end. To avoid any unnecessary weathering that shortens their lifespan, put patio items away. Begin by removing any cushions, spraying them down, and doing a thorough wipe down with a wet rag before storing them in a cool, dry place. The same goes for your well-loved grill. Start by cleaning the inside cooking area with a metal brush, wiping clean and then coating with a thin layer of cooking spray to prevent rust. Wipe down the exterior with a damp rag, dry and cover. Always consult the owner’s manual for exact storage direction.
As you will find, there are plenty of things you can do to proactively take care of your home in any season. If you are a part of the Hippo family, you can even take advantage of our complimentary Hippo Home Care program to get expert advice pre-storm. Taking the extra time to work smarter for your home will ensure you can truly enjoy the beautiful fall and winter seasons with hardly a worry.