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Fall Home Maintenance Checklist

As the season transitions from the warmth of summer to the crispness of fall, it's important to ensure that your Cincinnati custom home is well-prepared for the changing weather. You can protect your home from potential damage by taking care of simple maintenance tasks and enjoying a worry-free autumn. This comprehensive fall home maintenance checklist covers essential steps to keep your custom home in shape during the fall season.

Custom Homes Cincinnati

1. Clean and Stow Your Outdoor Equipment

Before winter, properly cleaning and storing your outdoor equipment, including your lawn mower, is crucial. Neglecting to do so can lead to damage and costly repairs in the future.

Start by adding a fuel stabilizer to your mower's gas tank. This simple step will prevent the gas from deteriorating and damaging internal engine parts during inactivity. After adding the stabilizer, top off the tank with stabilized gas and run the mower for about five minutes to ensure that the stabilizer reaches the carburetor.

To further protect your mower, follow these additional care steps:

  1. When the mower is cool, remove the spark plug and pour a capful of engine oil into the spark plug hole. This will lubricate the pistons and promote an easy start in the spring.

  2. Pull the starter cord a few times to distribute the oil evenly.

  3. Turn the mower on its side and clean out any accumulated grass and debris from the mower deck.

2. Disconnect and Store Garden Hoses

Leaving garden hoses attached to outdoor faucets during the winter can lead to frozen and burst pipes. To prevent this, it's essential to disconnect and store your garden hoses properly.

Start by removing the hoses from the faucets and draining any remaining water. Store the hoses in a shed or garage to protect them from the elements.

Turn off any shut-off valves on water supply lines that lead to exterior faucets. This will prevent minor leaks that allow water to enter the faucet and freeze.

3. Drain Your Sprinkler System

For those with an irrigation system, it's crucial to drain and winterize it to avoid costly damage from frozen pipes.

Here's how to properly drain your sprinkler system:

  1. Turn off the water supply to the system at the main valve.

  2. Shut off the automatic controller.

  3. Open drain valves to remove any remaining water from the system.

  4. Remove any above-ground sprinkler heads, shake out any water, and replace them.

Hiring an irrigation professional to blow out the system pipes using compressed air is recommended if your system doesn't have drain valves. This will remove all water and minimize the risk of burst pipes and sprinkler head damage in the spring.

4. Seal Air Leaks to Improve Energy Efficiency

As the temperature drops, it's important to seal air leaks in your home to improve energy efficiency and prevent drafts. This simple maintenance task will keep your home more comfortable and help reduce heating costs.

Walk around your home's exterior and look for cracks and gaps between trim and siding, windows and doors, and where pipes and wires enter your house. These areas are common sources of air leaks that can waste energy and increase your utility bills.

Using color-matched exterior caulk, seal any identified cracks and gaps. Choose a day when temperatures are above 50 degrees Fahrenheit, as caulk flows more easily in warmer weather.

5. Clean and Inspect Gutters

Clogged gutters can cause a range of issues, including ice dams and water damage to your home's exterior. It's important to clean and inspect your gutters before the winter arrives to ensure proper drainage and prevent costly repairs.

Follow these steps to clean your gutters effectively:

  1. Safely remove any leaves, twigs, and debris from the gutters.

  2. Check for sagging gutters and tighten hangers and brackets as needed.

  3. Replace any worn or damaged gutters and downspouts.

If you notice colored grit from asphalt roof shingles in your gutters, it's a sign that your roof may need attention. This sand-like grit protects shingles from UV rays, and its presence in the gutters suggests potential roof damage. Consider having a professional roofer evaluate your roof for necessary repairs or replacements.

6. Inspect and Maintain Your Roof

A well-maintained roof is essential for protecting your Cincinnati custom home from the elements. You can prevent further damage and costly repairs by promptly inspecting and addressing any issues.

Here's what to look for when inspecting your roof:

  • Check for buckled, cracked, or missing shingles. Replace any damaged shingles immediately to prevent leaks.

  • Examine flashing around chimneys and vents for signs of rust or damage. Replace or repair as necessary.

  • Look for cosmetic black algae stains that may indicate underlying decay. Moss and lichen growth should also be addressed to prevent damage to the roof.

  • Inspect the plumbing vent stack for cracks or loose rubber collars (boots). Replace any damaged boots promptly.

If you have a steep roof or a multistory house, use binoculars to inspect your roof safely from the ground. However, hiring a professional roofer is advisable for a thorough evaluation or repairs.

7. Ensure Proper Drainage Around Your Home

Proper drainage is crucial for protecting your foundation from water damage. Take a close look at the soil around your home's foundation and ensure that it slopes away from the house. This slope should be at least six vertical inches over ten feet to prevent moisture from accumulating around the foundation, which can lead to cracks and leaks.

Additionally, ensure that the soil does not touch the siding of your home. Keeping a gap between the soil and siding helps prevent moisture-related issues and potential damage to the exterior.

8. Schedule a Furnace Checkup

Before the heating season begins, it's wise to schedule a professional checkup for your furnace. A heating and cooling professional will inspect and tune up your system to ensure optimal performance and efficiency. This preventive maintenance step can help identify potential issues and avoid unexpected breakdowns during the colder months.

During the checkup, the technician will also replace the furnace filters. It's recommended to change these filters every two months for optimal performance. If your HVAC system includes a built-in humidifier, ensure the contractor replaces the filter.

9. Prune Trees and Plants

Late fall is the ideal time to prune trees and plants around your Cincinnati custom home. Proper pruning helps maintain the health and appearance of your landscape while preventing potential damage during high winds and storms.

When pruning, keep in mind the following tips:

  • Trim limbs and branches at least three feet away from your home to prevent moisture from dripping onto the roof and siding.

  • Remove any dead or diseased branches to promote healthy growth.

  • Consult your local state extension service for specific pruning recommendations based on the plants and trees in your region.

10. Ensure Fireplace Safety

As the colder months approach, ensuring your fireplace is safe for use is essential. A few simple steps will help prevent potential hazards and ensure your fireplace operates efficiently.

Here's what you need to do:

  • Inspect the fireplace flue to make sure the damper opens and closes properly. Remove obstructions, such as birds' nests or debris, to ensure proper ventilation.

  • Check the firebox for any cracked or missing bricks and mortar. Any damage should be addressed promptly by a professional fireplace and chimney inspector.

  • Clean the fireplace flue of creosote buildup every other year to reduce the risk of chimney fires. Hiring a professional chimney sweep is recommended for this task.

Following this comprehensive fall home maintenance checklist ensures that your Cincinnati custom home is well-prepared for the changing season. Taking care of these essential tasks will protect your investment and provide peace of mind knowing that your home is in top shape.


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