Fall is officially here.  It’s time to get started on your fall maintenance list.  It’s much easier to get this stuff done while it’s still pleasant outside, so don’t put these projects off until we have snow in the forecast.

This list was originally compiled by Structure Tech Home Inspector Duane Erickson, and has been added onto a few times over the past several years.

Water

  • Disconnect any garden hoses.
  • If the exterior faucets are not frost free, drain the water out.  SeeHow to Prevent Your Outside Faucets from Freezing.
  • If you have a lawn sprinkler system (aka “irrigation system”) it needs to be drained and blown out with compressed air.  Hire a pro to do this.
  • Remove any pond pumps, and store the pump in your basement in a 5-gallon bucket filled with water.  This will help to prevent the seals from drying out.

Air

  • Clean the combustion air or makeup air intake vents.
  • If an air exchange system is present, such as a heat recovery ventilator (HRV), clean it.  Regular maintenance items for an HRV include cleaning the exterior intake, the filters, and the core.  SeeHRV maintenance.
  • Clean the clothes dryer duct.  The damper at the exterior should move freely and close properly.  See dryer duct maintenance.
  • Check the bathroom and kitchen exhaust dampers for wasp nests.  The nests will prevent the dampers from openings.  See Bath Fan Terminal Inspections.

Roof

  • Clean the soffit vents.  These can get clogged up with lint, dust, insulation, and paint.  They’re located under the roof overhangs.
  • Check the roof vents for bird nests.
  • Clean the gutters after all the leaves have fallen.
  • If the downspouts or sump pumps drain in to an underground system, re-direct them to drain to the ground surface when feasible.  See Sump Pump Discharge.

Air Conditioner

  • Outdoor covers are NOT necessary.  If a cover is used, it should be the type that only covers the top, not a full enclosure.
  • If the furnace or water heater vent blows exhaust gas on to the air conditioner, a plastic cover can be used to shield the air conditioner from the corrosive exhaust gases.
  • Don’t cover heat pumps (these are not common in Minnesota).

General Exterior

  • Seal any gaps around the house; check for loose or dried out caulking around pipes, ducts, faucets, air conditioner refrigerant lines, etc.
  • Replace any damaged or worn weatherstripping around windows and doors.

Smoke / CO Alarms

  • Smoke alarms should be located inside every bedroom, and one in a common area on every level.
  • CO alarms should be located within ten feet of every sleeping room (and not in furnace rooms, kitchens, or garages).
  • Replace the batteries in your smoke alarms and carbon monoxide alarms and test them using the built-in test buttons.
  • Make sure your home is equipped with photoelectric smoke alarms.
  • Check the age of your smoke and CO alarms; smoke alarms are good for up to ten years, CO alarms are good for between five and ten years.  If they’re any older, replace them.

Furnace 

  • Have a professional furnace tune-up performed annually.  See Are Annual Furnace Inspections Really Necessary?
  • Replace the batteries in your thermostat.  If your thermostat fails while you’re on vacation, you might come home to a nasty surprise.
  • Clean or replace the furnace filter – this should usually be done every one to three months, depending on the type of filter.  The arrow on the filter should point toward the furnace.

Fireplaces

  • Have the flues professionally cleaned on any wood burning fireplaces if they get used regularly.
  • Avoid burning any woods that are not hard and dry.
  • Clean the dust out of the bottoms of any gas fireplace inserts.
  • If you have a gas log installed in a wood burning fireplace with an adjustable damper, make sure there is a damper stop installed to prevent the damper from getting closed all the way.  See My Beef With Old Gas Log Fireplaces.

Last but not least, Duane says “Cuddle, stay warm, and safe sledding.”

Author: Reuben SaltzmanStructure Tech Home Inspections

          

About Reuben Saltzman

Reuben is a second-generation home inspector with a passion for his work. He grew up remodeling homes and learning about carpentry since he was old enough to hold a hammer. Reuben grew up thinking he was going to be a school teacher because he enjoyed teaching others so much. In a sense, that’s a lot of what home inspections are about, so Reuben truly does what he loves. Sharlene has worked with Structure Tech since 2000 and Reuben has been contributing to her blog since 2008.

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