Fall. Arguably one of the most beautiful times of the year! The weather has cooled and the leaves have begun to change, reminding us that winter isn’t all that far away.

Before the snow flies, our homes need a little TLC in order to ensure our warmth and safety over the months – yes, months – of winter. We’ve prepared a few tips on where to begin and what to include in your home maintenance checklist for the fall:

  • Inspect and clean out your eaves trough. In order to ensure a smooth and safe flow of water away from your home’s exterior and foundation walls,  you’ll need to keep up with the maintenance of your gutters. So, before the leaves fly this fall, have your gutters cleaned, then covered with mesh guards to keep debris from returning.
  • Check the quality of your roof. Those of us who have lived in the Ottawa area for a number of years know that our winters are no walk in the park. We get a lot of snow, heavy winds and even heavier ice build-up. If you set aside some time before the cold snap to inspect your roof from top to bottom – checking for cracked and/or damaged shingles etc. – you’ll avoid such issues as a leaky roof over the winter.
  • Give your furnace a checkup. This is very important to do on an annual basis (especially before the depth of winter hits). This includes making sure that its overall performance is up to par, its filter is clean, and its thermostat works accurately.
  • If you use a snow blower, have it serviced.  If you are considering hiring a snow removal company now is a good time do your research.  Talk to your neighbours and ask for recommendations, read online reviews and contact the snow removal companies on your short list to ensure they meet your expectations.  While price is always a consideration, reliability is especially important when it comes to those heavy snowfalls.
  • Unless you’re one of those hardcore grill-masters, accept the end of BBQ season. Don’t forget to cover yours up or store it away, clean its grills and burners, and disconnect the tank keeping it in a safe place.
  • Seal gaps where mice and other critters could enter. We all love nature but let’s keep the wildlife outdoors! Mice only need the tiniest gap to sneak into your house.  With colder weather coming, they are looking for warm and lovely places (like your home!) to nest.  Fill small holes and cover any larger gaps securely.   If you aren’t sure which materials to use, check with your local hardware or home improvement store for advice on what will work best for the job.
  • Add weatherstripping around your windows and door frames.  While many newer homes may not need this, if you have ever lived in an older home, weatherstripping applied around the frames of windows and doors can make a big difference in helping to keep the cold out and the heat, saving you money on heating costs and keeping your home cozy and dry.
  • Fireplace maintenance.  Even if you aren’t a huge fan of winter, gathering around a cozy fire on a chilly day is the best!  If your home has a wood-burning fireplace, arrange for a chimney cleaning and stock up and stack wood in a dry place.   Making sure your chimney is cleaned, maintained and in working order before you start a fire is an important safety measure.  If you don’t already have one installed, add a chimney cap to stop wildlife from crawling down your chimney.  Gas and electric fireplaces may not require as much maintenance as wood-burning but should not be ignored, ensure that they are working properly and ready to use.
  • Clean up your yard.   Put tools and furniture that won’t necessarily stand up well to the cold into storage.  Cover and secure items that are too large to move.  In fact, the fall is a great time to take on projects that are family-friendly: raking the leaves, organizing the toys, disconnecting the outdoor hose, and so on. Simple ways to get the whole family involved and ready for the winter!

Taking the time for fall home maintenance will help  avoid unpleasant surprises in the future.    Enjoy a pleasant fall and winter, folks!