Keeping up with just five simple fall home maintenance steps can help keep your home protected and looking beautiful all year long. In the coming weeks, aim to tackle one task at a time between football games and chili cook-offs: these projects are straightforward and they'll help give you peace of mind about your home's safety in the harsher winter weather — as well as anything Mother Nature might send your way in the months beyond.
1. Weather-Proofing Your Home
Weather-proofing drafty doors and windows is an easy win. It helps keep your home cozy and it's also a money-saver: proper air-sealing can save you up to 20% on energy bills, according to energy.gov.
To get started, check the status of the weatherstripping around all accessible doors and windows. Does the weatherstrip fit snugly against both surfaces and compress when the window or door is shut? If not, it may be time for a replacement.
For hard-to-reach windows, use proper ladder safety techniques or hire a professional to help you. Don't forget to check your garage door, too, since cold air can sweep in and chill the garage in winter months. If you're looking for additional advice, the Department of Energy offers several simple weatherstripping installation tips here.
2. Take a Roof Health Check
Your roof protects your family and home, keeping the elements at bay. That's why a winning fall strategy always includes a roof health check. You can either do this yourself or contact a reputable local roofer to do it for you. If taking a look yourself, conduct your roof inspection from the ground to avoid shingle damage or personal injury. Walk the perimeter of your home and scan the roof for potential issues — using binoculars if possible to obtain a clear view. You should be looking for:
Cracked shingles. Cracks may signal roof damage from hail impact, wind, and debris. Damaged shingles may allow water to penetrate your roof's top defensive layer, leading to concerns such as roof leaks, mold, and structural water damage.
Missing shingles. Missing shingles are an open invitation for water, snow, and ice to infiltrate your roof system and cause a host of water-related home damage. Reach out to a roofer right away if you spot missing shingles or visible roof damage such as holes or cracks.
Discolored shingles. Algae is the most likely culprit here: algae can thrive in almost any climactic condition and have a serious effect on your roof. Thankfully, a roofing professional will be able to work with you to identify the issue and suggest resolutions.
- Improper attic ventilation. Advances in construction products and procedures mean that heat, moisture, and condensation that used to escape through walls and windows can now build up inside of homes and attic spaces: this can lead to increased energy costs, ice dams, and potential damage to roofing products and structural supports. Proper ventilation helps prevent this. Outside your home, check that ridge vents and eave vents are free of debris. In your attic, make sure nothing (such as insulation) is blocking ventilation. Curled roof shingles may also be a sign of attic ventilation issues.
Ceiling and attic roof stains. Inside your house and attic, scan the ceilings for mildew, watermarks, and other possible signs of a roof leak — especially around pipes, fans, chimneys, etc.
A strong defense is the best offense (and, often, the least expensive solution) when it comes to roof health. As always, a GAF Certified Roofing Contractor* is one of your best bets for an expert diagnosis — and for spotting issues before they require an expensive cure.
3. Ensure Gutters Are Clean
Clean gutters provide an awesome home defense, keeping moisture away from your roof and siding. Clogged gutters can lead to roof leaks and larger structural damage if overburdened gutters tear away from the house. Gearing your gutters up for wet weather by cleaning out debris before the season changes is a relatively quick task with a big payoff.
If you can safely access your gutters with a secured ladder, grab your work gloves and an empty bucket or lawn bag. Carefully clean each gutter line and scoop out leaves, debris, and accumulated gunk. Dump debris into your bucket or lawn bag as you go for easy cleanup. If layers of muddy silt or decayed leaves have collected, gently slide a hand towel along the gutter bottom to remove potential drain-blockers. Be careful not to damage the gutters or put weight on them—this could cause damage to your roof or siding. Finally, run water from a garden hose through the gutters to clear any remaining sediment and verify proper drainage down and out.
To prevent damage, avoid jostling shingles or climbing onto your roof. Call an experienced professional if you need help with gutter cleaning or repairs.
4. Ready the Home Field
Show your lawn a little love this fall, and you'll be stoked when spring rolls around. These easy outdoor winter lawn care hacks can save you time, money, and home-repair pain.
Rake leaves. Leaving dead leaves to rot until spring can destroy a lush lawn. After clearing fallen leaves, fertilize your lawn and garden. Those roots will work hard underground in the winter months and come back even more vibrant next spring.
Store summer gear. Cover or store anything that could get ruined during wet and snowy months, including lawn furniture, BBQs, toys, and umbrellas.
- Remove potentially damaging tree limbs. Trim any tree limbs or shrubs that might damage your property if they fall during storms. As a bonus, trimming back limbs that overhang your roof helps prevent critters from gaining easy access to your home. Hire an arborist to safely remove hard-to-access foliage.
5. Winterize Early
For homes in freeze-prone climates, help prevent burst pipes by shutting off outdoor water sources. This quick fall home maintenance project avoids serious headaches down the line. When water freezes, it expands—including water trapped in outdoor faucets, pipes, and irrigation drip lines. Before temperatures freeze, take time to:
Shut off exterior water valves for irrigation drip lines. Be sure to drain the lines ahead of when the ground freezes.
Shut off water valves for exterior faucets where appropriate. Dripping faucets could lead to a burst pipe if enough ice backs up.
Program sprinkler systems to shut off once winter hits.
Ready for a beautifully maintained home this fall? For help with your roof, reach out to a contractor certified by GAF* to help with your fall home maintenance.