Your Fall/Winter Home Maintenance Checklist

Quick and Dirty Tips
by Quick and Dirty Tips
Get your home weather-ready with this fall and winter home maintenance checklist from the Domestic CEO.
Steven Martin // Flickr
As the fall and winter months approach, now is a good time to do some annual maintenance on your home. Getting ready for colder weather means checking, repairing, and readying your home to withstand the upcoming rain, wind, and snow.

We checked with some experts for advice and have compiled this list of "must do" items that every homeowner should check off before hunkering down for the winter.
Emily May // Flickr
1. Check and Replace Worn Weather Stripping

Weather stripping around doors and windows plays a key role in reducing the amount of cold air that enters your home. Check for cracked or worn stripping, and replace with new, more efficient stripping. If caulking is looking worn and ragged, remove it and re-caulk with an efficient, moisture-resistant product. This will help keep the cold from entering your home, which in turn helps to reduce your heating bill.

2. Seal Gaps Where Critters, Bugs, and Cold Air Come Into Your Home

Take a close look around the exterior of your home and cover any and all gaps you find. Use caulk to seal small gaps near the foundation of your home, or around windows. A heavy-duty screen or hardware cloth works well to cover exterior vents, allowing air to escape but preventing critters from seeking warmth in your home.
J.C. Lamantia // Flickr
3. Inspect Exterior Walls

If you have a painted exterior, check for any cracks or blisters in the paint surface. This is a sign that a new coat of paint is needed. If left unchecked, that failing paint won't protect your home, opening you up to much costlier repairs in the future.
Sergiu Bacioiu // Flickr
4. Clean Your Chimney

Built-up creosote inside the chimney can cause a house fire, so don't fire-up that fireplace until the chimney has been cleaned of any debris, animals that have moved in, and creosote build-up. It's good to have a professional chimney sweep come in to do this done once a year, and fall is the perfect time. You may also want to consider adding a chimney cap to prevent animal nests or homes from being constructed in your chimney in the future.
Aaron Ortiz // Flickr
5. Stock Up on Firewood

Now is the time to purchase firewood and store it in an easily accessible location. Whether you use wood in your fireplace or in a fire pit during the early fall, you'll want to have plenty of wood to get you through the fall and winter months.
Lars Kasper // Flickr
6. Remove Window A/C Units

If you use window air conditioning units, now is the time to either remove them from the windows, or purchase and install a protective insulated cover that not only shields the unit from harsh weather, but helps to insulate your home. Make sure this cover fits snugly around the AC unit.

7. Clean Out and Repair Rain Gutters

You can do this job yourself, or hire someone to do it for you, but this is an essential chore to perform each fall. Preferably, you'll want to clean out the gutters after all the trees in your yard have finished dropping their leaves. If you plan to tackle this yourself, this handy how-to video will take you through this task step-by-step.
eltpics // Flickr
8. Inspect the Roof

While you are up on that ladder, take time to inspect your roof, or hire someone to do this for you. Problems like damaged shingles and worn-out seals around vent pipes and chimneys are much easier to remedy if you catch them early. It's a good idea to hire a licensed contractor to take care of any necessary repairs.
Robert S. Donovan // Flickr
9. Take Care of Patio Furniture

Whether you decide to store patio furniture away for the winter or simply cover it for the season, take the time to do a bit of cleaning and maintenance on your patio seating and tables. First, remove any cushions from the furniture; next, give all pieces a good scrub using mild dish soap, a bucket of water, and a soft bristled brush. Get all the cracks and crevices as clean as possible. then hose off any soapy residue and let the furniture dry in the sun.

You'll also want to give the cushions a thorough cleaning, too. Use the same mild soap, water, and scrub brush to clean all cushions. Let them air dry in the sun, as well. Check the furniture for any loose or missing screws and tighten or replace them. If the furniture will remain outside, purchase some heavy-duty covers to protect everything from the elements. Cushions should be stored in the garage or basement, if possible. I like to store them in a large covered plastic storage bin; this helps protect the cushions from critters, moisture, and dirt.

10. Clean and Cover the Grill

Now is the perfect time to clean your outdoor grill before stowing it away for the winter. For a thorough example of how to clean your grill, click here for a helpful video. If you will be storing your grill outdoors, purchase a durable grill cover and if possible, store the grill in a covered area to protect it as best as possible from the elements.
Robin Bragg // Flickr
11. Clean, Stain, and/or Seal the Deck

Fall is the perfect time to take care of maintenance on your deck. At the very least, a good cleaning is recommended. Check the durability of your stain and seal by following the steps on this checklist, which also gives detailed instructions on how to re-stain or re-seal your deck properly.
Christopher Sessums // Flickr
12. Inspect Your Driveway for Cracks

If you find any cracks, clean them out and repair any damage with driveway filler. Follow up with a coat of commercial sealer.

13. Protect Exposed Water Pipes

Be sure to wrap exposed piping with a weather-resistant, insulated material made to keep pipes from freezing. A burst pipe is not a fun problem to deal with during a blizzard!
Steve Johnson // Flickr
14. Change the Direction of Ceiling Fans

By doing this, you create an upward draft that redistributes warm air from the ceiling. Directing the warm air back down towards the main portion of a room helps eliminate the temptation to up the thermostat on those extra chilly days.
Katy Warner // Flickr
15. Test and Change the Batteries in Your Smoke and Carbon Dioxide Detectors

It's a good idea to test all smoke and carbon dioxide detectors at least a few times a year. I like to do this every autumn and spring. Even if the batteries are still good, change them anyway--no one likes to wake up in the middle of the night to a chirping detector! Be sure to replenish your reserve of batteries, too, so you've got extras on hand.

Always test each detector when you are changing out the batteries. These units stop working after 7-10 years, so make sure you've got properly working detectors and replace any non-functioning units.
Amy LeForge // Flickr
16. Check Basement Windows for Drafts, Loose Frames, or Cracked Panes

You definitely want to take care of this before the first snowfall hits. Use caulk to seal up any drafts, and call a window professional if you've got loose frames or cracked panes that need replacing.

17. Install Storm Doors and Windows/Remove Screens

Before storing away the screens, be sure to clean them and repair any damage. Stow the screens in a dry area of the garage or basement.
This checklist should get you on your way to preparing your home for the winter. Now is the time to get started on each item, before the cold winds blow and the snow starts falling!

Originally posted here:
Quick and Dirty Tips
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