Fall Maintenance for Minnesota Homeowners

While it's still officially summer for another week, it's a good time to get started on your fall maintenance list.  It's much easier working on these projects while it's still pleasant outside; don't put these projects off until the first snow.

This list was compiled by Delano Home Inspector Duane Erickson, of Structure Tech Home Inspections.


  • Disconnect any garden hoses.
  • Turn off the water supply to the exterior sillcocks and drain the water out.
  • Have the lawn sprinkler system drained and blown out with compressed air.
  • Drain any exterior fountains.


  • Clean the combustion air or makeup air intake vents.
  • If an air exchange system is present, such as a heat recovery ventilator (HRV), clean the intake.  These look just like the combustion air intake vents, but because they’re connected to a fan, they get dirty much faster.
  • Clean the clothes dryer duct.  The damper should move freely and close properly.
  • Check the bathroom and kitchen exhaust dampers for wasp nests.  


  • 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.

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 check the test buttons.
  • Check the age of your smoke and CO alarms; smoke alarms are good for up to ten years, CO alarms are good for up to five years.  If they’re any older, replace them.


  • Have a professional furnace tune-up performed annually.
  • Clean or replace the furnace filter – this should be done at least every one to three months, depending on the type of filter.  The arrow on the filter should point toward the furnace.


  • Have the flues professionally cleaned on any wood burning fireplaces.
  • Make sure spark arrestors are installed on all flues.
  • 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.

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

Reuben Saltzman, Structure Tech Home Inspections - Email - Saint Paul Home Inspections

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Written By

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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