Winter weather will be here before you know it, which means it’s time to get your home and property ready. Most home maintenance tasks become significantly more challenging once the flakes fly, so it’s important to do them now. From servicing your furnace to disconnecting garden hoses, here are six home maintenance tasks to tackle before winter sets in.
1. Inspect and Service Your Furnace
Most furnaces have a lifespan of between 15 and 20 years. During that time, they can develop a variety of problems that require fixing. Your gas furnace may have worked just fine last winter, but that doesn’t guarantee it will perform similarly this year. The last thing you want is to turn up your furnace during a winter storm and discover something’s wrong. The best time to inspect and service your furnace is a few months before you’ll need it.
Unless you’re very good with DIY projects, it’s best to have a professional inspect and service your furnace each year. They’ll be able to detect small HVAC problems that could have big consequences a few months down the road. They also know when to give furnace replacement recommendations to ensure you have reliable heat in the dead of winter.
2. Rake the Leaves in Your Yard
Fallen leaves on your grass may seem harmless or even festive. But they can wreak havoc on your yard if they aren’t raked up before winter. A layer of dead and rotten leaves is the perfect environment for snow mold diseases. These diseases are typically caused by Microdochium nivale or Typhula incarnata fungi.
Snow mold can damage the crowns, leaves, and stems of your grass. Fortunately, it can typically be avoided by simply raking up fallen leaves before snow falls. It isn’t necessary to pick up every single leaf. However, you want to make sure there are no large patches or blankets of leaves left to overwinter on your grass.
3. Replace Weatherstripping
Weatherstripping helps seal doors and windows tight so the wind doesn’t come through and the heated air in your home doesn’t escape. Most weatherstripping products aren’t designed to last longer than a few years before needing replacement. It’s wise to examine yours once every spring and again every fall to make sure it’s still in good condition.
If your weatherstripping is cracked, loose, or peeling, you’ll want to replace it before the weather turns cold. In some cases, weatherstripping may look fine visually, but there may be other indications it should be replaced. For example, you may feel a draft when you sit next to a certain window. Or you might notice rainwater leaking around your doors and windows. These are common indicators that you need new weatherstripping.
4. Clean Your Gutters
Gutters are designed to divert rainwater from your roof away from your home. When working properly, they can protect the walls and foundation of your home from excess moisture and water damage. Due to their trough-like design, gutters tend to collect more than just water. They can also trap fallen leaves, twigs, and other debris.
If debris is left in gutters over the winter, it can cause water to pool and freeze. This will damage the gutters and cause them to malfunction. You can prevent this from happening by donning a pair of gloves and using a gutter scoop to remove debris. For safety purposes, enlist the help of a friend or family member to keep the ladder steady while you work.
5. Cover Your Air Conditioning Unit
When winter hits, you’ll be able to give your air conditioning unit a rest. Depending on the climate where you live, you may not need AC in your home for weeks or months. Covering your outdoor air conditioning unit in the winter can prevent ice from damaging the condenser coils. It can also keep sticks, leaves, and other forms of debris out of the unit when it’s not in use.
You can order a generic AC cover online, but make sure you take measurements of the unit beforehand. You want a cover that will fit snugly without being too tight. Before you cover your unit for the winter, consider having it inspected and serviced. That way, it will be ready to go when the snow melts away and the weather gets warmer.
6. Fertilize Your Yard
Fall is one of the best times to fertilize your yard because it gives you grass nourishment to survive the harsh winter. Plus, morning dew is prevalent in the fall and helps the fertilizer seep into the grass. Homeowners who fertilize in the fall often enjoy greener, more vigorous growth in the spring.
Each fall, apply about one pound of high-nitrogen fertilizer per 1,000 square feet of lawn. You should aim to do this at least two weeks before the ground freezes. A few days after fertilizing, consider applying a pre-emergent weed killer. This will help kill off weeds that might otherwise gain a stronghold in your grass in the springtime.
This isn’t an exhaustive list of all the home maintenance tasks you should perform before winter hits. But it’s a good start and will help you avoid unnecessary stress from unfinished tasks when the first snow falls.