Cool weather is a good reminder to complete the checklist to ready your home for fall and winter. Maintenance and minor repairs at this time can spare your home major damage in the next six months and huge repair bills such as replacing roofing, fixing water damage, repairing burst pipes or eradicating mold. You’ll also significantly reduce energy use and the bills that come with it. This house repair guide provides a fall/winter maintenance checklist for you to consider along with the right contractor to call for the work. Many are DIY jobs if you have the time and basic skills. Some should be handled by a professional contractor.
This list includes tips for getting each job done, so you’ll have an overview of it for doing it yourself or hiring a pro. We include fall maintenance costs and show you the potential savings vs. having to make major repairs. Ways to save money on home maintenance and repairs are included. Finally, a list of outside resources provides links to additional information you’ll find helpful in getting many of these home maintenance checklist items completed.
Here’s a list of things to be done in the autumn and winter and how you can complete the work.
Add insulation to the attic: Energy efficiency experts point to this as the top priority in cutting your energy bills throughout the year. In warm climates, an insulation value – based on the type and depth of insulation – of R35 is the minimum. In moderate climates, you should have at least an R45 in the attic, and in cold climates, R60 is ideal. Note that attic insulation helps in summer too by preventing heat from penetrating through the attic into your home. Depending on the type of insulation used the Insulation panels can settle over time for a number of reasons. Draughty conditions especially around the top plate and eaves of a timber home also human contact can actually squash the panel so that it looses the R value. Another layer of insulation will fix the problem
Install caulk and weatherstripping on windows and doors: This is another cost-effective fix for your home, especially in older houses where these items are missing, caulk is cracked or weatherstripping is worn. You won’t save as much energy as with adding attic insulation, but it’s a cheap repair and will add to your cost saving fuel bills efforts.
Have the heating system cleaned and repaired: Having your heater or furnace cleaned and tuned will help it run more efficiently. This is a tough job to do yourself, at least the first time. Watch an HVAC technician do it once, and take notes for DIY next time.
Install a programmable thermostat: The value of a programmable thermostat is that you can set it to automatically turn down the heat during times you’re at work or nestled under the blankets, reducing energy use by 20% to 35% during those times.
Seal gaps in exposed ductwork: Foil-faced tape and/or mastic are the materials to use for this job. See our home repair guide “Repairing Leaky HVAC Ducts” for all the details.
Check the condition of the roof: A few missing shingles cost $20 to $100 to replace but might save you thousands of dollars in costs if you have to replace roof decking, drywall or anything else water comes in contact with or eradicate mold. Examine your roof to look for loose or damaged shingles, caulk around chimneys, chimney mortar, flashing or broken boots around vent stacks. This will of course require you to
climb into the roof space to look for obvious signs of water damage and daylight showing.
See our guide “Repair a Leaking Roof” for the details.
Clean gutters and downspouts: When gutters are full of leaves and debris, the water cascades over them, falls to the yard and may get into your home’s basement. Blocked gutters and downspouts can also force water to run over the fascia (the timber the gutter is fixed to) and along the eaves of a house
ultimately running down the walls.
See our guide “Cleaning and Repairing Clogged Rain Gutters” for more information.
Repair cracks in concrete and asphalt: This is vital in climates with freezing winter temperatures. Water gets into the cracks and freezes, (it actually expands and has enormous strength) damaging asphalt or concrete and making the repair larger and more costly.
Our guide “Repairing Cracks in a Concrete Driveway” has tips and costs.
Install a home automation system to control lighting: Having lights automatically come on before your home gets dark increases convenience, security and safety. A home automation system can also control appliances, curtains or blinds, the home alarm system and the HVAC system. Sensors can be included that monitor for low temperatures in case the heating system fails while you’re away or water leaked from burst pipes.
Increase lighting: Replacing outdated fixtures with those with better lighting capacity also increases the safety of your home by reducing the risk of trips and falls.
Have the fireplace and chimney cleaned: Fire dangers in the chimney include creosote and bird nests or other organic debris. Putting a cap on the chimney to keep out critters and giving the system a good cleaning can prevent fires. However, cleaning a chimney is best left to a professional who will have the proper equipment.
Prevent freezing of pipes: Shut off exterior spigots and drain the irrigation system.
Tips for Saving Money on Fall Home Maintenance and Repair
DIY jobs are cheaper when you borrow tools needed or split the cost with a friend or friends of tools you all can use. Also, check with your utility company about possible energy rebates provided when you install attic insulation, caulk and weatherstripping or energy-efficient windows and doors. There are some state and local government rebate programs too. Professional home maintenance and repair costs can be reduced by getting multiple estimates from competing local contractors.
YouTube – Here’s an Irish site that shows you the materials you need and provides tips for insulating your attic.
DSIRE – Consult this site to find rebate programs in your state or local area for installing energy-efficient materials in your home.
EnergyStar – This page from Energy Star shows a US map with recommended insulation values for the attic.
Easy AC – This local heating and cooling company provides a “how-to” on installing a programmable thermostat.