For me like many, fall is one of my favorite seasons.  It comes as a welcome relief from the summer heat.  The cooler days and beautiful colors are more than welcome when they finally come.  However, the fall season is also a time of preparation.   Old man winter is just around the corner and it sounds like he’s not going to be kind this year.  Forecasts indicate a La Nina which generally translates to colder, wetter, harsher winters in the North West. To protect our homes from the wear and tear that can come from a harsh winter we need to do some maintenance.  I have assembled a list of some the items I like to look for and tackle this time of year.  Since this can be a lot of work I have separated the tasks by indoors and outdoors.  I will cover the outdoor items first in this post.  These are items you want to complete before first frost and windstorms hit.

  1. Clean and inspect the roof. I like to start at the top and work my way down.  There are several things we want to look for on the roof.  Are there any exposed fasteners that need to be caulked?  How about damaged shingles to repair?  Remove any roof debris and make sure no tree branches are touching or closely over hanging the roof because they attract RATS! This is a great time of year to treat for moss on the roof.  The ideal way to remove moss is with moss killer.  I like to spread it at the ridge of the house on both sides and let the rain water take it down.  In about ten days any large accumulations can be swept off with a stiff broom.  Never pressure wash the roof.  You can take five years off the roof in a day. I like to take a close look at the chimney while I’m up there. I’m looking for several things; moss which needs to be cleaned off and any cracks in the crown that should be caulked.  Severely deteriorated mortar may need attention from a professional.
  2. Clean the gutters. Clogged and overflowing gutters can lead to some real damage in terms of water intrusion and wood rot if let go. In the North West it’s not unusual for this deed to need to be done multiple times per year.  You can use a hose to spray light debris build-up down the spouts or if heavy build-up is present you’ll need to manually scoop it out to avoid clogging your downspouts. While cleaning the gutters, make sure the water is being diverted away from the home.  The grade should slope away from the house and no ponding should occur next to the structure.  I always look for splash blocks if storm drains are not present.  Either of these will help direct the water and away from the foundation and crawl space.  Keeping water out of the crawl space is very important.
  3. Don’t forget the air-conditioner! Maintaining the air conditioner will greatly extend its life. Way too often I see air conditioners over grown with ivy and the like.  So, let’s cut back any vegetation from around the air conditioner.  In addition, clear away any debris from around the base.  The cement pad that the unit sits on should have about 2 inches of clearance all the way around.  Air conditioners could benefit from a cover in the winter time but heat pumps need to be uncovered year-round.  Finally, air conditioners and heat pumps alike should be serviced every 2 years.
  4. Turn off exterior faucets. Turning off the exterior hose faucets is an easy one to forget. The price for forgetfulness in this case can often be a broken water pipe in the wall!  Thankfully, this is an easy one.  First, check in your garage for an inside valve.   If you have one, turn off the water at the inside valve.  Next, open the hose faucet to drain any residual water in the pipe.  If you don’t have an inside valve be sure to firmly turn off the exterior faucet.  All exterior hoses and timers should be removed for the winter and stored indoors.   Cover those exterior faucets with an insulation wrap available at your local hardware store.
  5. Test the sump pump. This can be really easy or not. If your sump pump is located in a crawl space then you will need to get down there and get a little dirty.  Once at the pump all that needs to be done is lift the float and listen for the motor to respond.   It’s that simple.

Well that should get you all started.  Remember to enjoy the journey!