Your Fall Home Maintenance Checklist: Getting Ready For Winter

Home School Care & Maintenance

With the leaves transforming into beautiful shades of yellow, orange, and red, it’s hard not to also notice the plunge in temperatures as summer comes to an end. And in Alberta, we know it will get much colder in the coming weeks and months. To prepare for the consistent sub-zero temperatures, there is some home maintenance you should perform to ensure your house is protected from the elements.

1. Clean your gutters

When gutters work properly, you don’t notice them as they successfully drain thousands of litres away from your home every year. However, if not properly maintained, they can cause a world of grief - from flooding the interior of your home to damaging the exterior.

Gutters and downspouts become clogged over time from falling leaves and other debris that decompose and turn to grime, so one of the best times to clean your gutters is in the fall after most of the leaves have already fallen.

To do this yourself, you can use an old plastic spatula (cut it to fit the contours of your gutters) and scoop out the old gunk blocking the water flow. You can also install gutter guards, also known as gutter covers, which block future debris from entering the gutters, but still allows water to flow freely, making subsequent clean-ups much easier.

2. Check for drafts

Heat loss isn’t typically an issue in newer homes that are well insulated, but it never hurts to check for drafts under doors, around window frames, in attics, and even around electrical outlets. In fact, heat loss is responsible for 20-35 percent of an average Canadian home’s energy bill, according to Natural Resources Canada study, Survey of Household Energy Use.

The easiest way to test for draftiness is to attach a piece of tissue paper to a coat hanger or stick, and slowly pass by where you think the draft is coming from. If it flutters, there is cool air coming into your house that your heating system will have to work extra hard to counteract. The most cost effective way to mitigate a draft issue is to add weather stripping, which can easily be found at any hardware store.

3. Drain your outdoor faucets

To protect your pipes from freezing and bursting, drain and disconnect all garden hoses from your outdoor taps. Turn off the water to any exterior faucets, and store hoses indoors to prevent damage to the rubber. Finally, install a hose bib cover, which is a foam insulated cover, to keep outdoor faucets dry in the winter.

4. Bring your outdoor furniture indoors

While your outdoor furniture is meant for the outdoors, leaving it outside in extreme Canadian winters means it can rust, crack, and fade. If you don’t have a garage or extra space in your basement, you can get a waterproof cover that will help prevent cold weather damage and help extend the lifespan your outdoor living essentials.

5. Fertilize your lawn

Fertilizing your lawn in the fall provides nutrients for your grass before it goes dormant in the winter. It not only gives an extra boost to your grass roots before the first snow, preventing winter damage, but also will allow your lawn to grow quicker and turn green faster during its initial growth spurt in the spring.

6. Seal gaps where mice and other critters can get in

Mice aren’t fans of cold weather either, so they’ll be looking for shelter as the temperatures drops. Common places where mice and other critters can enter your house are through small cracks in walls, doorways, and windows, attached garages, and chimneys. To stop them from making their home in your home, be sure to fill or block any holes, large or small, to keep them outside.

If you can check these six items off your list this fall, you can relax knowing that your home and yard are prepped and ready for winter.