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19 Fall Maintenance Secrets to Get Your Home Through Winter

19 Fall Maintenance Secrets to Get Your Home Through Winter

If you’re a veteran homeowner, these may not be secrets at all, however first time homebuyers are often in the dark on how to continually maintain their newest addition and may not even realize how important regular maintenance is. Yes, opening the pocket book here, there and everywhere is a pain but annual checkups can save you some big time bucks in the long run.

Fall is one of the most crucial times of the year to catch up on maintenance too before the unforgiving Nebraska winters set in, which can sometimes cause preventable damage. Pick a slow Saturday or Sunday, find your comfiest outfit and get to work! Your home, and pocketbook will thank you.

Because spending your hard earned dollars on holiday gifts is way more fun than home repairs.

INDOOR MAINTENANCE

A big deep clean is what I would prescribe first. Try to at least stick with accomplishing the following:

1. Clean your dryer vents

While you should be emptying the lint trap before each new load of laundry, this doesn’t mean lint does not still get built-up in your dryer vents. With the dry winter air, its very important you make sure there is not severe clogging (1) to maximize the efficiency of your dryer and (2) to prevent starting a fire. If you don’t feel comfortable pulling your dryer out from the wall, this is a service you can call and have done for you.

2. Reverse your ceiling fans

This helps push the warm air down as heat rises, saving on heating costs.

3. Block door drafts

Door drafts, especially to rooms where you don’t run heat, and exterior doors can be very costly in terms of how efficient your furnace is running. You can buy door drafts that will help further insulate the home keeping the warm in and the cold out.

4. Put up insulated curtains

Thermal curtains are not just for the summer months to block the heat from the sun. Windows are obviously not good insulators and in the winter just the opposite happens. Insulated curtains can curb the heat escaping and the cold getting in, especially when you’re gone all day at work.

5. Service your furnace – change your furnace filter

Servicing the major mechanicals of your home every so often is important for obvious reasons, but servicing your furnace in the fall before the icy temps hit can save you money, time and a big headache. It is also recommended to change your furnace filters every 1 to 6 months depending on where you live, if you have pets and how sensitive your allergies are, but if you only manage do it once a year it’s best to do it before winter as the most dust is able to collect over the warm weathered months.

6. Lower your water heater temperature

Many people might not know that having your water heater lowered from a higher level than needed can save on electricity bills. Click here for more information and step-by-step instructions from the U.S. Department of Energy.

7. Smart thermostat

Another option might be to consider investing in a smart thermostat. If there’s one thing technology is known for its efficiency and that is certainly the case here. These thermostats can learn your schedule and automatically adjust the temperature of your home throughout the day so it’s not wasting energy while you’re away, but is still a comfortable temperature when you arrive back home. Most of them can also be monitored remotely, which is nice if you’re out of town for a few days or just want to make temperature adjustments without having to run all the way home to do so. They can even provide statistics on energy usage which might be helpful in making adjustments.

OUTDOOR MAINTENANCE

The indoor stuff is a little more flexible on when you can do it, but for outdoors it’s best to tackle that stuff on any nice day you are graced with. These items are a little more time sensitive too, and if you wait too long will be too late to do any good. The nice days are quickly becoming few and far between so the sooner the better.

8. Clean chimney/vents

If you have a fireplace, whether wood-burning or gas, it needs to be maintained. You want to be certain all the parts are in good and safe working order. This way, when the time comes to haul in the logs for the first time of the year, you have peace of mind knowing your chimney is clean and clear. On another note, it is a misconception that gas fireplaces are so much cleaner and easier that they’re, I don’t know, infinitely good to go? This is not the case and click here to find out why.

9. Clean out gutters

I could go on and on about the dangers of not having your gutters cleared, but this is especially important in the fall for the falling leaves. Clogged gutters can be extremely costly in the damage they can cause when unaddressed over periods of time. Again, most would rather pay to have their gutters cleaned than pay for foundation repairs, siding repairs, etc. etc.

10. Check all exterior door/window seals

The more tightly your home is sealed, the more efficient it will run and the more money you will save. We all know especially in this Midwest region homes move and settle over year after year of extreme temperatures. Therefore, no home, even relatively newer ones are safe from normal wear and tear. Do a quick inspection of all your windows and doors to check for cold air seeping in. And for settling cracks, a good rule of thumb, is that if a crack is big enough to fit a nickel, it needs to be addressed. 

11. Turn off the water to outdoor faucets

Water, pipes and freezing temperatures do NOT go together. Be sure to turn off the water to all exterior valves and drain the lines to prevent pipes from freezing and bursting. No thanks!

12. Switch out screen doors for glass

If you have a storm door, be sure to switch out the screens for the glass doors. Piled snow can damage the screens and again, completely sealing as much snow and muck from your home as possible is the goal.

13. Check on all downspouts

This one is a relative of cleaning your gutters and can easily be done simultaneously. The key is to ensure all falling water has a route to go away from the foundation of your home, preferably 4 feet. This will ensure proper water shed away from the home under normal moisture circumstances.

14. Clean your lawn equipment

A good power wash and draining of all gasoline in your mower, weed wacker, etc. will ensure it is in good working order for you come next spring. The downside to neglecting this task is it will shorten the working life of these tools, which aren’t cheap to replace.

15. Mulch leaves when you mow

This is a fun little tip for good lawn maintenance. Leaving whole leaves across your lawn is a no-no for multiple reasons: it prohibits strong growth in the spring by shading grass from the sun; it breaks down and holds moisture causing mold and bacteria growth and can even be shelter for unwarranted critters. That said, leaves aren’t all bad. A good solution for this is, towards the end of the fall season, mulch your leaves when you mow and sprinkle them over the lawn. In little bits, they can act as a kind of fertilizer and energy boost come spring.

16. Aerate lawn

Aerating your lawn promotes growth and good health. Spring is an important time for this, but fall is also a good time if you do it with cool season grass.

17. Winterize your garden

If you’re a first time home buyer giving gardening a try, you might not be aware that gardens require winterizing too! There can be a lot to it depending on your garden size (and motivation) so click here for a link that gives a pretty thorough run down on how to prep your garden for the winter so that come next spring it’s the best clean slate for peak flower months.

18. Winterize pool

Obviously this only applies to those with pools, but pool maintenance is a biggie. If you’re a new pool owner and don’t know how to winterize it yourself or are unsure, hire it done.

19. Spray locks

You may be surprised this is even on the list, but frozen locks are often a hidden nuisance that can happen more often than you think. Your first thought might be to spray it with something like WD-40 but that can actually make it worse by dirt and grime build up on its oily texture. What you want to use is powdered graphite which is a dry lubricant. 

20. Buy salt early

This isn’t so much a maintenance tip but it is an important one. In Nebraska the weather is volatile and can drastically change from one day to the next so save yourself the hassle of driving on ice to go get de-icer.

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Rachael Dvorak

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