We are still enjoying warm weather here in Colorado Springs, but there is a slight chill in the morning air. Even the trees are starting to dot with red, yellow or orange leaves as we shift toward the fall season.
Winter and summer can be very hard on our Colorado homes. Winter will be here before we know it, so it’s time to pull out the maintenance checklist and start preparing your home for the colder months. You can get detailed instructions on YouTube for nearly every item on this list (we’ve included a few for your reference).
- Roof: Have your roof and flashing inspected. Make sure all vents are caulked and make any necessary repairs.
- Gutters and downspouts: Clean and inspect all of your gutters and downspouts. This is particularly important if you live in a treed area or have mature landscaping with large trees.
- Chimney: Have it inspected and cleaned before the winter comes. This will ensure your family’s safety when you start lighting up those cozy fires on snowy days.
- Siding, doors, and windows: Inspect weather stripping around doors, windows and garage doors and repair as necessary. Re-caulk where necessary.
- Lawn: You might want to give your lawn a last round of fertilizer for nutrients to be stored during the winter time.
- Rake leaves, pine needles and pick up pine cones. Put the leaves into large paper bags instead of plastic bags. This is more environmentally friendly because the paper bags allow the leaves and yard waste to decompose. We do our main raking after the first strong fall winds to make the process more efficient.
- Shrubs and trees: Any plants that are close to the home should be cut back or potentially removed. Trim any tree branches that are touching the roof because they cause damage. Roots can damage the foundation and installed walking paths.
- Drainage Make sure that any water drains away from the home. It’s generally not hard to check. Most cases that need attention just require creating a positive slope away from the home. You might occasionally need to install additional drainage. Keeping moisture away from your foundation is one of the most important things you can do to extend your home’s life and keep your basement dry.
- Sprinkler system: We usually get our first snowfall around Halloween, so homeowners in Colorado Springs begin winterizing their sprinkler systems around October 1. This process helps prevent freeze damage to the system by having all residual water blown out by a company. You’ll see advertisements popping up on the side of the road for this service. Landscaping companies frequently offer sprinkler winterization as well. Expect to pay $40 to $80 for this service.
- Wood deck or patios: Check wood decks, steps and rails for loose or damaged boards and raised nails. Stain or paint exposed areas.
- Defensible space: Address your defensible space for fires around your home throughout the year. Remove easily combustible materials from your yard (leaves, pine cones, branches are cut back and any new growth in this space is removed). Click here to learn more about this important step to protect your home.
- Caulk: Check for cracks on any concrete or stucco surfaces like driveways, porches, etc. Caulk/repair as needed.
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Basements and Crawlspaces
- Keep critters out: especially mice like to come into the warmth of a crawlspace or basement. Take a tour around your home and fill any holes that are NOT weep holes with foam to discourage little critters from entering the home. Repair or replace any damaged crawlspace screens. It’s time to call an exterminator if you see evidence of critters in your home.
- Check for dampness and leaks, look for efflorescence deposits in basement.
- Inspect interior drainage.
- Inspect and repair damages to the plastic vapor barrier.
- Inspect and check sump pump (if applicable).
- This is also the time where especially in the wooded or rural areas of town little critters are looking to find warmer spaces. Inspect your crawlspaces, basements, and other out-of-sight areas for rodent droppings. If you see them, set up traps but also look for entry areas and close them off.
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Heating and Cooling
- Check and replace air filters. (Note: You should select a filter with a MERV rating between MERV 8 and MERV 11.)
- Have your heating system serviced before the cold season begins. This will make scheduling service easier and prevent problems while temperatures are low. See if your AC condenser outside should be covered and remove window A/C units.
- Clean ceiling fan blades.
- Clean and vacuum bathroom exhaust fan covers and blades.
- Check the temperature pressure relief valve for signs of leaking or discharge.
- Check for water underneath in the water heater pan. Contact a professional plumber immediately if you find water.
- Go to each sink or tub faucet and turn on the water and watch below the sink for any active leaks
- Run the disposal to look and feel for leaks. Be patient: sometimes these little drops take a while to appear.
- Check all other connections in your home (laundry, wet bar, toilets) for leaks.
- Repair all leaks, caulk around tubs and showers (do not caulk over weep holes).
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- Vacuum the smoke detector and its sensor through any slot where dust could accumulate (this will help prevent false alarms in the middle of the night—it’s always the middle of the night, right?).
- Replace smoke detector batteries.
- Check batteries in your thermostat.
- Clean your garbage disposal by grinding several ice cubes. Then flush with hot water and a bit of baking soda.
- If you have a vent above your range, clean the grease filter per the manufacturer’s directions (if applicable).
- If you have a frost-free refrigerator, clean the drain and the drain pan.
- Vacuum the refrigerator and freezer condenser coils, change water filter
- Clean air ducts.
This list might sound like a lot, but we wanted to be thorough and comprehensive. If you take nothing away from this but to disconnect your hoses and blow out your sprinkler system, cover your AC if recommended and check your smoke detector/CO alarm batteries you are already ahead of the game. You might also be motivated by noticing mouse droppings to set traps.