While it’s smart to hire a professional for annual inspections and maintenance for larger jobs such as the furnace or roof, the following are simple maintenance tasks just about any homeowner can do. Paying attention to your home prevents major damage from occurring later on, so take a few minutes to do these things.
Take Care of the Leaves
Autumn brings majestic colours in trees everywhere, but those leaves eventually fall to the ground and can cause problems. If allowed to sit on the lawn, they can ruin the grass and make you the least favourite person in the neighbourhood. Rake them up and dispose of them properly. They can go in the garbage or a compost pile if you have one. Fallen leaves may also cause problems when they clog up the gutters. If you’re not afraid of heights, you can check your own gutters for these blockages. If the thought of climbing a ladder makes you nervous, hire a professional cleaning company to come out and do the job.
Check the Foundation of Your Home
If water’s allowed to pool around the foundation during the winter, it can cause serious damage. Homes are always designed to have the land slope away from the foundation, but when you do gardening around the home, you might alter the original design. If this slope isn’t there, build it back up using regular top soil. Consider moving plants at least 12 inches away from the foundation to improve drainage around the home.
Head Up to the Attic
Unfinished attics provide key clues to the health of the roof and the home overall. Look for water stains on the underside of the roof. This is a sign that the roof is leaking in places, and you’ll want to have it repaired before winter settles in. You should also pay attention to the temperature of the attic.
Ideally, the temperature should be around the same as the temperature outside. If it’s warm in the attic on a cold day, there’s a possibility that there isn’t enough ventilation or that the insulation is not effective.
Either of these problems could cause ice damming when there’s snow on the roof.
Perform a Visual Inspection of the Outside
Take some time to look around the outside of your house for any potential problems. For instance, look at the roof for missing, curled, or loose shingles. Walk around the home looking for signs that an animal has tried to enter your home, such as small holes or piles of sawdust, chewed wood, or siding. A homeowner can easily do his or her own visual inspection, but any problems noted should be addressed by a professional.
Seal the Home
Areas around windows and doors often have small gaps that might let cold air in and warm air out. This can mean higher energy costs. In most cases, you won’t find these gaps on a brand new home, but they can show up after a few years in the house. Feel around the window panes for cold drafts. Alternatively, hold a candle to the window. If the flame flickers, there’s a gap. Home improvement stores typically have weather stripping materials that can easily remedy these problems.
Turn the Outside Water Off
Even though you may have turned off your outside spigot, there’s often still water in the hose and the pipes. If this water stays there throughout the winter, it will expand as it freezes and cause damage. To prevent this from happening, turn the water off from the main point. This is typically a valve on the inside of the house, but if you’re not sure where it is, ask your home builder where to find it.
Test Your Detectors
Fire and carbon monoxide detectors become especially important in the winter months, when fires are more likely to occur and closed windows hold dangerous fumes inside. Your devices should have a “test” button that allows you to easily test if the appliance is working. It’s also a good idea to change the batteries to be sure that it’s in good working order.
Regular home maintenance doesn’t have to take up a lot of your time. Simply checking your home for problems and making sure you take care of issues as they arise will go a long way toward making sure your home stays in good condition for a long time.