Fall is not only an opportunity to set out pumpkins and pots of mums on the porch, but it's also time to review your fall home maintenance checklist and tackle some exterior home maintenance projects to prepare for the harsher weather conditions that come with winter.
Here are six essential fall maintenance projects to take care of while the crisp autumn air lasts.
1. Garden Hoses & Spigots
What winter can bring: When a garden hose stays connected to a spigot through the colder months, the water inside can freeze, which can damage the spigot—or even cause your home’s interior pipes to burst.
How to prepare: Disconnect hoses. Let the water drain out of the hose, neatly coil it, and store it in the garage or tool shed for winter.
What winter can bring: Leaving leaves on the ground during winter promotes rot and creates a cozy haven for insects that may burrow in—and potentially harm—your lawn. Leaf-covered roofs and leaf-clogged gutters and downspouts collect water that, when frozen, can cause ice damming that leads to structural damage and rot.
How to prepare: Though it’s a chore, it’s important to rake or finely mulch the leaves in your yard, and to make sure the roof, gutters, and downspouts are clear of leaves and other debris before the first freeze. Don’t wait too late in the season to tackle the roof, gutters, and downspouts: It’s best to avoid ladders when frost and snow creates slippery conditions.
3. Exterior Paint
What winter can bring: Peeling paint on window frames, porches, and other exterior features attracts water, which can trap moisture long term and lead to rot.
How to prepare: Even if you’re holding off on a proper paint job until spring, take time this fall to chip away peeling paint wherever you may find it. Even though wood will be exposed, the air and sun will also help it stay dry.
What winter can bring: When chimneys have cracks or flaking bricks, water can seep in and freeze, causing additional deterioration when it expands. Birds, racoons, and other critters like to build nests inside chimneys that restrict airflow and pose potential fire hazards.
How to prepare: Not only can a chimney sweep inspect for all of the above, he or she can also repair, clean, and correct any problems. Search the directory of the National Chimney Sweep Guild to connect with a reputable sweep in your area.
What winter can bring: Water pools and seeps into driveway cracks, leading to more cracking and deflection when conditions become icy.
How to prepare: Fill and patch cracks, and then finish the driveway with a sealcoat. It will protect it from not just water and ice, but also wear caused by wind and sun. Sealcoating can be a messy job, so consult with a driveway contractor in your area before attempting a DIY.
6. Air Conditioner
What winter can bring: If you have been thinking about investing in an air conditioner cover, keep this in mind: While a cover protects the AC from the elements, it protects mice and other rodents—attracted to the shelter a cover provides—from the elements too.
How to prepare: In this case, less preparation is more. Air conditioners are designed to withstand rain and snow, so it may be best to forgo the cover.
Now that your fall home maintenance checklist is complete, consider also reviewing our spring home maintenance checklist for additional all-weather tips for keeping your home’s exterior in excellent shape year-round.
Thank you to Frank Lesh of the American Society of Home Inspectors for sharing expertise for this article.