By: Serge Guenette

Fall maintenance


It’s hard to believe that summer is one the way out, but Monday marks the first day of fall and the changing of the seasons is the perfect time to take care of your home’s maintenance needs.

Our homes are usually our largest investment, which means it’s important to take care of them. And the best way to do that is with regular and preventative maintenance — which has the added benefit of often preventing the most common, and often most costly, problems before they can happen.

If you set up a routine to tackle your checklist in smaller chunks, you’ll find the work is much easier to get done and less time-consuming.

You can download a comprehensive checklist from the National Home Warranty Group here, but here’s our abbreviated list for you:

  1. Your gas furnace should be cleaned and inspected at least every two years (yearly is fine, too) and every year for oil furnaces. If you haven’t done it yet, book it now.

  2. If you have hot water radiators, bleed the air from them.

  3. Check chimneys for obstructions such as nests.

  4. If you have a fireplace, have it professionally cleaned. A dirty fireplace is a safety hazard.

  5. If you have electric baseboard heaters, vacuum them to remove dust. If your heating uses ducts, remove the grilles and vacuum inside the ducts.

  6. Turn ON your gas furnace pilot light, if there is one, set the thermostat to “heat” and test the furnace.

  7. Once the heating season starts, clean or replace furnace air filters each month. The filters on ventilation systems such as a heat recovery ventilator (HRV) should be checked every two months.

  8. Make sure the joints on your HRV ductwork are tightly sealed and any insulation has no tears. And if your HRV has been shut off for the summer, clean the filters and the core, and test it.

  9. Check that bathroom exhaust fans and range hoods are working well, with good airflow (the exterior damper should be held open by the airflow).

  10. Remove interior window screens to allow air from the heating system to keep condensation off window glass and to allow more solar energy into your home (but hold off on this one until you’re sure you’ll no longer open your windows for the season — wasps in particular are active right now).

  11. Make sure doors, windows and skylights close tightly; repair or replace weather stripping if needed.

  12. Cover your air conditioner and shut off the power once the cooler weather is here to stay.

  13. Ensure that the ground around your home slopes away from the foundation (so that water does not drain into your basement).

  14. Clean leaves from the eavestroughs and roof, and test downspouts for proper drainage from the roof. This is one job that needs to be done regularly as eavestroughs can quickly fill up after a storm or windy day.

  15. Drain and store outdoor hoses when you’re done with them for the season. Close interior valves to outdoor hose connections and drain the hose bib (exterior faucet), unless your house has frost-proof hose bibs.

  16. If you’re on a well, have your water tested (it should be tested every six months).

  17. If you have a septic tank, measure to see if the tank needs to be emptied before the spring. Tanks should be pumped out at least once every three years.

  18. Winterize landscaping (store outdoor furniture, prepare gardens, protect young trees or bushes for winter, etc.). This one can wait until a bit later into the fall.

  19. Remove debris and leaves from window wells to allow for proper drainage.

And here are a few checks you should do regularly:

  1. Make sure air intake and exhaust vents are not blocked by debris.

  2. Check and clean range hood filters monthly.

  3. Test ground fault circuit interrupters on electrical outlets each month by pushing the test button, which should then cause the reset button to pop up.

  4. If you have young kids, make sure your electrical outlets have safety plugs.

  5. Regularly check for safety hazards, such as loose handrails or buckled flooring.

  6. Check your smoke detectors monthly to make sure they are working (and replace batteries this fall).

A final note: If you’re not comfortable tackling some of these items or don’t have the necessary equipment, consider hiring a qualified handyperson to help you.