August is almost complete, and the non-official start of Fall – Labor Day – is right around the corner. When Fall starts officially on September 23, days will start getting shorter, and unpredictable weather may make it more difficult to complete outdoor home projects. So take advantage of the coming weeks to knock out some of these important Fall maintenance items. Keeping up with seasonal maintenance protects your valuable investment in your home, and can help prevent more costly repairs down the road.

Prune trees and shrubs. As Fall arrives, trees and shrubs start going dormant for the winter. The rate of growth slows, and the leaves fall. Don’t try to plant new trees during this time, because the roots may not have time to get established before the ground freezes. However, it it is a great time to inspect your trees for dead branches, leaves turning too early, and other signs of disease. Consider hiring an arborist if you don’t feel confident attending to your trees yourself, especially if they are very tall or near power lines. You will want to have dead branches removed before winter, to avoid the risk of ice and snow causing them to fall and damage your roof or power lines.

Rake leaves. The brilliant colors of fall leaves look beautiful. But they can wreak havoc in the spring once they become wet and matted to the ground, inhibiting spring growth and causing the spread of fungus and disease. If you don’t have a lot of leaves, you can use a mulching mower to chop them up and leave them to fertilize the ground, but this isn’t effective if you have a deep blanket of leaves. Deal with them now, before they cause problems later.

Clean gutters and downspouts. One of the greatest risks to the integrity of your roof is clogged gutters. Clogs prevent water from draining away from the home, and that water has to go somewhere, usually into the soffits, siding, roofing material, and other wood sources.  Plus, water standing in your gutters will freeze and expand, causing further damage. Wait until most of the leaves have fallen, then clean out the gutters or hire someone to do it.

Repair the exterior.  Inspect the exterior of your home for any signs of damage. Pay special attention to the roof, siding, and foundation. If you notice any signs of damage, make arrangements for repairs before winter. Also, look for any small opening where critters can get into your home. Even very small openings can allow mice entrance to the smorgasboard in your kitchen. So fill any holes that you see, and make sure crawlspace covers are secure.

Repair walkways, railings, and stairs. When snow and ice makes navigating from your home to the driveway a challenge, you don’t want also be dealing with loose steps and wobbly railings. Take safety measures now, to prevent falls and injuries later.

Make sure you have the necessary winter supplies. Northern Virginia is prone to unpredictable weather, so you don’t want to be trying to find the last snow shovel at Home Depot after the first big snow storm.

  • Make sure your shovels and ice scrapers are in good repair. Replace them if needed.
  • Restock your supply of ice melt (look for plant- and pet-safe products to avoid accidental poisonings or damage to your landscape).
  • Restock emergency kits for your car and home. Make sure you have a blanket in your trunk, along with other supplies.
  • Get your snow blower serviced, and make sure you have fuel on hand.

Shut off exterior water supply and store hoses. Frozen pipes can cause a lot of damage to a home, and outdoor spigots are often the culprits. Shut of water to your outdoor faucets before the first freeze. Also, water left in hoses can expand and damage the hoses when they freeze. Drain them and store them in our garage or storage shed.

Add or replace weatherstripping.  Weatherstripping blocks cold air from getting in around your windows and doors, and keep your warm air in. You can cut your energy costs by adding weatherstripping or replacing old or a damaged weatherstripping. Add door sweeps underneath exterior doors and the door between your home and garage. You can also add fresh caulk around window and door frames to further prevent air exchange with cold winter air.

Test your safety devices. Smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors should be inspected every six months and tested to make sure they are operational. If your devices are not hard-wired into your home, then replace the batteries in the Fall and the Spring, to ensure that they work when you most need them to. Also, check the expiration date on your fire extinguisher. Replace it if it’s expired or damaged in any way.

Put window A/C units in storage. Remove window A/C units before it gets cold outside. These units are notorious for leaking air around and through the unit. If you are not able to remove it, then cover the outside portion of the unit with an a/c cover and plug any holes around it with weather stripping.

Clean out dryer vents. Clogged dryer events are a major fire hazard, and they can cause your dryer unit to be less efficient. It’s important to clean out your vents a few times per year, and right before the cooler, dry Fall season.

Schedule professional service. There are some tasks that really should be completed by a specialist. Schedule them early, to avoid the rush after weather turns colder. If you have a wood-burning fireplace, schedule a chimney cleaning before first use, which can help prevent a fire. You should also schedule an HVAC check-up. A technician will make sure your system is operating optimally, and perform preventive maintenance. This can help save you money on your energy bills and prevent costly future repairs.

We hope you enjoy the transition into Fall! If you are shopping for a new home, give us call! Whether you are looking to buy or sell a home in Northern Virginia, we are always here to help with all your real estate needs! If you are unsure of your home’s value or if you are thinking about buying or selling, contact Jason at 703-298-7037 or Jason@JasonAndBonnie.com.