We’re all spending even more time than usual around our homes this fall, so now is the perfect time to check essential fall home maintenance off of your to-do list. These four projects are relatively easy to do yourself and can be accomplished over the weekend.
Clean the Gutters
You hear it every fall, but it is such an important home maintenance task that it bears repeating; make sure to inspect, clean, and repair your gutters every fall. Not only do leaves and debris trap water that can cause damage to your roof and foundation, but they also weigh down your gutters, causing them to pull away from the house, damaging your fascia board and shortening its lifespan.
To begin cleaning your gutters, make sure you have a sturdy ladder with feet, or someone to hold it steady, and that you are comfortable climbing up to your gutters’ height. Remove debris with a trowel or plastic shovel, then flush out the gutters with a garden hose. If you notice any small leaks, seal them with caulk. If your gutters have pulled away from the fascia board, use a small hammer to tap the spikes back into place.
However, if your gutters are too high for you to reach, you see large leaks that need more than a spot of caulking, or your fascia boards are rotting, it’s time to call a professional gutter repair or replacement service. If your home is surrounded by trees, you may also notice that you need to clean out excessive debris more often. In this case, consider having guards installed on your gutters by a professional. Gutter guards can help keep debris out of your gutters year-round making maintenance easier.
Inspect Your Roof
The fall is an ideal time to check your roof because you can spot any damages from spring and summer storms and remediate any air leak or insulation problems before the cold weather hits. Additionally, fall weather is perfect for a roof replacement with many clear days and mild temperatures that lead to good adhesion for asphalt shingles.
Start inside by taking a look in your attic. Check for signs of water damage or leaks such as stains or sagging in plywood decking. Additionally, make sure there are no cracks in the decking or joints where light is shining through. Then, take a look at the exterior from the street level. If you see any broken, curling, or missing shingles, they should be repaired or replaced. Additionally, check to see if the caulk is cracked or there are rusty spots on your flashing.
In many cases, your roof simply needs some routine maintenance, such as resealing loose flashing or hammering down nail pops. If you choose to have these done by a professional, make sure the company is able to do smaller repairs, like a roof tune-up package. On the other hand, if you see signs of water damage, many damaged shingles, or you find lots of loose asphalt granules around your lawn, then it is likely time for a replacement rather than a repair.
Test Smoke Detectors
Lighting candles, cooking thanksgiving dinner, using the fireplace, and decorating with holiday lights are all wonderful things about fall and winter. However, they can also quickly become fire hazards. Ensure your home is prepared for the fall and winter seasons by testing your smoke detectors and checking that they meet current code requirements.
Most smoke alarms in newer homes are hardwired with a sealed battery backup. Still, they can malfunction. To test your smoke alarm, hold down the test button on the side. The alarm should sound loudly. If it is weak or does not go off at all, then it is time to replace the batteries, repair the electrical connections, or even replace the unit.
Ensuring your smoke alarms are functioning correctly isn’t just the safe thing to do; it’s also the law. Smoke alarm laws vary based on when your home was built. Still, according to Maryland’s Smoke Alarm Law, smoke alarms should be upgraded when the existing alarm is more than ten years old, the alarm malfunctions, there is a change of tenant, or certain additions, renovations, and repairs occur. If any of these apply to you or your alarms are malfunctioning, it’s time for an update.
Seal Window Air Leaks
Air leaks in your windows happen when outside air enters through small cracks or openings, and likewise inside air escapes. If you have air leaks in the winter, your home will feel drafty, and you could even see your energy bills skyrocket. Luckily, air leaks are relatively easy to detect and fix.
To identify an air leak, first, feel around your windows for any drafts. Turn off the lights during the day and see if any outside light shines through and small holes or cracks. If you can’t tell where the air leak is coming from, conduct a flame test by holding a lit candle and tracing the window's outline. If the candle flickers, air is coming through.
If you find an air leak between the lower rail and window sill, you can simply apply weatherstripping. If there is an air leak in the frame or grills, carefully apply caulk to the areas. However, once your window has an air leak, it is no longer energy efficient. So, depending on the age of the window, you should consider a replacement.
If you find any issues around your home that require a professional contractor, schedule a consultation with the Full-Service Remodeling experts at Brothers. We treat your home holistically and can do just about any project from roof replacements to basement finishing.