By Tony Escamilla
As we usher off a very hot (and fun) summer, it’s time to welcome the upcoming fall and the colder, wetter weather that comes with it. This is the perfect time to check off a few fall home maintenance items around your house. Then you can sit back and rest assured that your home is in good shape. Below is a quick checklist of home maintenance items you should be able to tackle in a few hours on a weekend. It’s time well spent that will give you peace of mind and prevent unwanted expensive surprises.
ROOFS & GUTTERS
1. Check for damaged, loose, or missing shingles. If you’re not comfortable climbing on ladders, this may be a job for a roofer or a local handyman.
2. Check for leaking, rusted, misaligned or damaged gutters & downspouts and clean them. Be sure the downspouts direct water at least 3 feet away from your foundation.
3. Cut back tree limbs growing on or over the roof or near any windows or power lines. If the trees are too close to the power lines, it’s best to let a professional tree trimmer handle it.
4. Check flashings around vent pipes, skylights, and chimneys. This is by far the biggest source of roof leaks. Roofing tar and a spatula are all you need.
1. Check painted wood surfaces for flaking paint. Patch and paint as needed.
2. Cut back and trim shrubbery against sidewalls. This tends to deteriorate wall surfaces and is a haven for rodents.
3. Maintain grading (soil) sloped away from foundation walls. This is a potentially significant problem during heavy rain.
DOORS & WINDOWS
1. Check the caulking around doors, windows and window sills. This is the #1 source of rot damage. Re-caulk as needed.
2. Check weather-stripping around doors and windows. This is a potential area of heat loss.
1. Close crawl space vents in fall/winter and open in summer. This is a huge energy saver in cold weather.
2. Check to make sure that the damper of your fireplace seals tightly. Air loss through chimneys is very common. Don’t pay to heat the outdoors.
3. Check the basement for dampness and leakage after wet weather. There are many reasons for moisture penetration into basements, such as hydrostatic pressure behind retaining walls and improper exterior site drainage. The sooner you spot it, the less expensive it will be to fix it.
4. Replace batteries in carbon monoxide detectors and smoke alarms. Change old-style smoke detector batteries, or better yet, install newer style detectors with 10-year batteries.
HEATING & COOLING
1. Change or clean furnace filters, air conditioner filters, electronic filters as needed.
2. Clean around cooling equipment, removing leaves, dust, overgrown shrubbery, debris. The cleaner your system is, the more efficient it will operate.
3. Cover or remove the AC window unit for the fall/winter. Again, this is a potential source of air loss and moisture penetration.
1. Exposed exterior water lines and drains should be wrapped with insulation. Water lines under the house, in the crawlspace, should also be insulated for energy efficiency.
1. Check exterior ground fault interrupters (GFCI) for proper operation. You can buy an inexpensive GFCI tester at any hardware store.
2. Check any exposed wiring and cables for wear or damage. Replace as needed.
KNOW THE LOCATION OF IN CASE OF EMERGENCY (Year-round)
1. The main water shut-off valve. This should be opened and closed at least once a year to assure proper functioning.
2. The main electrical disconnect or breaker, in case you need to shut it off or reset a tripped breaker.
3. The electrical panel box for breakers or fuses.
4. All fire extinguishers in the house. You do have extinguishers, right?
Believe me, this may seem like a long list, but you can easily make this into a family affair and have the kids or your spouse handle some items while you handle the others. After inspecting over 8,000 homes, I can’t emphasize how much regular maintenance can prevent costly repairs or replacements in the future. Good luck and as always, please don’t hesitate to call or email me with any questions.
Tony Escamilla is the founder of Villa Home Inspections. He founded Villa Home Inspections 23 years ago in 1998. With a background as a general contractor since 2000, Tony has been in the construction industry for many more years. He has personally performed over 8,000 inspections throughout Los Angeles, Orange, and San Bernardino Counties.