Follow this exterior fall maintenance tips / check list and pick whatever applies to your property, never delay it until the next month – you might be too late.
1. Start your preventive exterior fall maintenance by checking the roof surface for any damage and repair it if necessary, inspect flashing around penetrations, seal the gaps.
Remember that climbing the ladder and walking the roof is dangerous, you must be comfortable with it! Get a professional help if necessary – this also applies to some of the following list items.
2. Second on the fall maintenance tips list is chimney inspection. Examine exterior walls for deterioration, ensure that its top is sealed around the flue, and that it has a rain cap installed.
Newer attempt to use a house chimney to support the ladder – it’s a general warning, but in many cases following it might save your life.
3. This item from the house’s exterior fall maintenance tips list applies to your chimney as well – examine / install protective screens around the chimney cap to prevent birds from falling into the flue during the cold season – use caution just like in the previous two paragraphs or outsource it!
Number 4 on our exterior fall maintenance tips list is to secure and clean gutters and clogged downspouts, seal leaking seams, disconnect long extensions resting on the ground to prevent them from freezing.
Even if you have gutter guards / screens installed, check the areas close to the downspout to ensure that they are clean. Check those two posts for more details about downspout maintenance & gutter maintenance.
5. Soffit, fascia, house trim – not only the fall maintenance tips items but extremely important before the cold season. Check them for moisture damage, replace missing sections to minimize rodents penetration, scrape loose paint, caulk, and apply new coat of paint.
Surface temperature should be above 50F for painting, otherwise it will not stick properly, and you’ll have to re-do the whole thing in a season or two.
Exterior fall maintenance check list #6. Check all penetrations – around the windows, doors, pipes, vents, etc. for gaps / cracks. If necessary, re-seal it with silicon (preferable) or caulking, fix windows glazing.
Always remove as much of the deteriorating compound as possible, clean surfaces and apply new sealant.
Clothes dryer vent will need to be cleaned more often than just during your exterior fall maintenance and this should be definitely included in your routine around-year house exterior maintenance schedule – it’s a potential fire hazard.
To determine frequency of cleaning you’ll need to monitor it for a few weeks. As soon as lint starts accumulating around the discharge end, clean it, and mark your calendar.
I forgot one thing – make sure that the vent covers have not been installed up side down – just like on the right picture above, and that they have no screens of any kind / damper or louvers only.
The consequences of neglecting Dryvit finishes maintenance can be devastating and include mold contamination of the house structure. Assuming that it was properly installed make sure that there are no open seams between the Dryvit sections and Dryvit to other material joint. Moisture / water that will penetrate open seams might become trapped under the finished surface, which usually results in mold growth.
Deteriorating tuckpointing between the bricks and any other masonry units can be devastating to a house wall if left in such condition for the freezing temperatures. The only way to fight Chicagoland’s weather impact on masonry structures is to have them evaluated before the winter and serviced if necessary. For tuckpointing Chicago and surrounding neighborhoods check the company featured in the video below.
Check weather stripping around exterior doors and adjust thresholds to prevent air drafts.
Freezing water expands and will cause damage to the hose fittings, spray nozzles, and valves. Replace your regular water faucets with a frost-free type for extra protection. As an additional protection, you can install removable Styrofoam cover over the faucet.
11. Sump pump discharge pipe requires its presence on the fall maintenance check-list as well. Keep it above the ground and sloped towards the ground, monitor long extensions or remove for the cold season to prevent them from freezing.
If the sump pump keeps turning ON more often during the cold season, this might be a result of a frozen or partially frozen discharge pipe.
# 12 of the fall maintenance tips deals with electrical outlets but even you know nothing about electricity you can perform some basis evaluation. Check electrical outlets for GFCI protection (check this link for more information) and weatherproof cover.
If you have some old, not GFCI protected outlet receptacles, have them replaced by a professional with GFCI outlet receptacles or protect that circuit with a GFCI breaker.
Draining it is not enough; you’ll need a compressor to blow out whatever water remains in the lines. Under the ground they might not always be sloped properly towards the drain valve and could freeze up / crack during the cold season.
15. Since color changing leafs are the beautiful part of the entire fall maintenance period, keep your eye on them and remember to keep them out of the drainage channels around the property like inside the basement window wells, basement exterior entrance, etc.
This article was written by Dariusz Rudnicki
I'm a retired Illinois home inspector, founder and editor of checkthishouse.com, a blog which attracts around 2 thousand readers daily and is dedicated to answering the many questions of home owners and home buyers. Connect with me on Google+ Find me on Google+ Local