The fall season is upon us, which means it’s the perfect time to prepare our homes for the next season ahead: winter! You may not be ready for it just yet, but you should prepare your home accordingly. We’ve compiled a to-do list to tackle while the weather is still warm outside, whether you DIY or hire an outdoor landscaping expert!
Clean out the gutters
It’s time to put your gloves on and pull out the ladder. The fall leaves coming down from trees looks pretty and all, but they often fall right into your home’s eavestroughs and clog the downspouts. Make this the first job on your fall maintenance list because the leaves can cause damage to your home. When leaves are stuck inside, they prevent water from diverting away from your home’s walls and foundation. Clogged gutters prevent necessary water drainage. As a result, the water won’t have anywhere to go and could land right into your basement, and damage your home’s exterior foundation.
Prevent any costly damage from happening to your home by having your gutters cleaned. If you don’t want to risk hiking up a high ladder to DIY, then consider hiring a eavestrough specialist do the dirty work for you. Our website features dozens of eavestrough specialists in your neighbourhood. Read through customer reviews and make an informed decision on which contractor to hire!
Do a walkabout around your home
You’ve probably walked up and down your driveway, the walkways and other places on your property while entertaining throughout the summer or doing summer maintenance/planting, etc. But have you walked around to examine these spaces? Before the first snowfall, make time to check out the driveway and any interlocking. Are the pathways broken? Are the cracks in the driveway getting worse?
And if those cracks are getting worse, why not wait until the spring season to do the repair? Well, even if your driveway isn’t covered by a blanket of snow, cracks along the pathways can be hazardous to your health in the event that you slip and/or fall. Not only that, but the cracks could widen as a result of icy conditions, which means you’ll have a hefty bill to pay.
Give yourself peace of mind this winter by repairing these problems in the fall. Use our directory to find a paving contractor to repair your broken driveway or pathways!
Fire up the fireplace only after its been inspected
Next up on the fall maintenance checklist: your fireplace. After all, you’ll likely be turning it on once the weather gets chilly outside. But before you sit beside the hearth reading a book, you must first give it a thorough inspection to make sure it’s safe to use:
- Inspect it for cracks. Are there noticeable cracks or corrosion on the inside of the fireplace or wood-burning stove?
- Check the grate. All fireplaces should be retrofitted with a screen at the front for safety reasons. Is it broken? Be sure to replace it before you start using your fireplace.
Exercise fireplace safety by hiring a chimney expert to inspect and repair your fireplace before you’ll be using it. Bill Bassels of The Chimney Company uses instructional videos as a way to educate homeowners on chimney and fireplace safety.
Inspect emergency tools
Every home should have both smoke and CO detectors. They’re essential to the health and safety of your home and family. Be sure to change the batteries in both detectors and test them – safely! – by bringing a blown-out candle up to the unit.
Then, inspect your fire extinguisher. Is the pressure gauge indicating the extinguisher is ready to go when needed? Is the noddle clear? Does it look too damaged and corroded for use? If you’re not 100% sure the unit is ready for use, then consider replacing it and using a permanent marker to write down the date of purchase.
If your home doesn’t have a fire extinguisher, smoke or CO detector, better get on it! The last thing you want is to have a house fire and no equipment by your side.
Build an emergency kit
A home emergency could happen at anytime. The last thing you want is for a house fire to start when you’re using the fireplace, or for the power to go out on what feels like the coldest day of the year. Prepare your home (and your family!) with a home emergency kit fitted with all the necessary items to keep you warm and safe. Here’s a guide on what your kit should include:
- Portable radio;
- Non-perishable food;
And that names just a few. For a laundry list of items to include in your emergency kit, including how to maintain it and where to store, check out our story.
Inspect your home’s foundation
You’ll need to check one more important place before you start to batten down the hatches for winter: the basement. As one of the high-risk locations in your home for water infiltration, it’s best to do a thorough inspection of your home’s foundation. Your concrete walls and floor are susceptible to leaks, so you’ll need to watch for cracks that could bring the flood waters inside.
First, check the foundation walls around the entire basement area. Small cracks are pretty common and can be caused by settling. These are usually less than 1/8″ wide but may expand with freezing, thawing and hydrostatic pressure.
Can you see water leaking or stains from damp walls? If so, you’ll want to repair the cracks. You can DIY if you’re a little handy by removing loose particles, inserting plastic tubes, injecting with polyurethane and covering the entire area with fast-curing epoxy. Large cracks in the wall, floor or cove joint (small space between the floor and wall) are an entirely different story. Anything over 1/2″ wide may point to a serious problem. You might have soil erosion under your foundation which might compromise your entire house. Repair work can be significant and should be left to a professional waterproofing company.
One solution might be to add drain tile on the inside perimeter of your basement. This will involve digging through your concrete floor, so you’ll need to be sure what has to be done. Cracks can be tricky to understand. Check out this piece about foundation cracks and when to start worrying for some peace of mind.
Inspecting Your Basement’s Interior
You’re not quite done yet. Time to check on your sump pump. This is one of those appliances that you never think about until it’s too late. A fully functioning sump pump is your best defense in basement waterproofing, so you’ll want to make sure yours is working properly. If the power goes out or it stops working, you’ll be standing in water and watching your precious memories float by.
Is your sump pump more than 5 years old? If so, you should have it replaced. Units are roughly $200, and it’s a DIY install project. The same goes for an inexpensive battery back-up system. Last, but not least, you should consider getting a backwater valve to prevent sewer backup. Heavy storms can drop a lot of rain at once and overwhelm outdated City storm and waste-water piping. Clogged pipes caused from debris or tree roots can cause similar problems, so you should be ready. A backwater valve installed between your floor drain and exit pipe will stop liquid from coming back into your house. You definitely DO NOT want sewage inside your home. This is a big job and definitely should be done by professionals.
Still aren’t sure you have all you should in your basement? Take a look at this guide to finding leaks in your home’s foundation for some great tips on how to keep your basement dry all year long.
There’s still plenty of time in the season to winterize your home before it’s too late. With this guide and our extensive directory of professionals, including landscape contractors to clean up the outdoor yard and paving contractors to get your driveway in order before the snow hits.
More in Fall Landscaping
With files from Jon Labelle.