When I mention a house cleaning list for fall into winter, you're probably thinking about cleaning windows or washing summer clothes before you put them away for the season.
While those are relevant items to have on a to do list, the house "cleaning" that I'm talking about is more about tasks that will keep you and your home safe and sound throughout winter. Because once the first snow falls, all bets could be off.
That's why fall is the optimal time to get house repairs and handyman jobs done. Many of these task are do it yourself or DIY. But if you don't want to do them yourself, keep in mind that you may not be the only homeowners that need to hire help this time of the year. Therefore the sooner you can figure out what's on your fall-into-winter checklist, the easier it will be to have that item taken care of.
As the days get shorter and colder, consider these 5 tasks that should be on your house cleaning list:
- Have Fireplace Cleaned
Plain and simple—having your fireplace and chimney cleaned annually prevents fires. According to the U.S. Fire Administration, " Heating fires account for 36% of residential home fires in rural areas every year. Often these fires are due to creosote buildup in chimneys and stovepipes. All home heating systems require regular maintenance to function safely and efficiently." So in addition to having your fireplace cleaned, if you have a oil boiler or furnace that you use to heat your home—and there is a chimney associated with that device—both need to be cleaned out as well. This year during our annual cleaning we discovered that the chimney from our furnace had corroded to the point that a fire was inevitable. Luckily, we discovered this in time and before home heating season really kicked in. Because you can't really replace a chimney—the interior of ours is made from terra cotta tiles—we had a new stainless steel liner installed. Sure, it was expensive but can you really put a price on your family's safety?
- Clean Out Your Gutters
The role of gutters on a house are simple—to move water off the roof and away from your home's foundation to avoid flooding or other damage to your home. When you go into winter with your gutters chock full of autumn leaves, you're putting your home at risk. In addition to having water flowing down into your house's foundation, if water pools on your steps our walkways and then freezes, you now have a slipping hazard. Additionally, if water gathers in your gutters and freezes, those gutters could rip away from your roof and leave you with a huge bill for house repairs. Here's one more reason not to put off this task: cleaning out your gutters could also improve your home's curb appeal. In my house I'm the person who goes up on the ladder to clean out the gutters while my husband holds the ladder. If you don't want to do it yourself, you can hire someone for one of these handyman jobs.
- Clean Out Outdoor Hoses
Once the ground freezes, the watering season is officially over. At that point leaving hoses outside and hose spigots with a water supply could be a recipe for disaster—namely, water freezing in pipes. And when water freezes in pipes, they end up bursting, leaving you with a flooded basement and a huge mess to clean up. Also, why risk ruining your hoses by leaving them outside and full of water? They, too, could freeze, expand, and split. Then, next spring, you have to buy all new hoses.
- Remove Leaves from Roofs, Eaves, and Your Driveway
Ever deal with an ice dam? Neither had until February 2011 when my dining room ceiling started leaking. Turns out that leaves caught in the eaves of my roof had trapped ice and snow, and when it started melting, the water ran down into my roof, and then my ceiling. I had no idea that leaves caught on your roof could be such a problem. That's why twice a year now, when I go up on the ladder to clean out gutters, I head onto the roof to remove any leftover leaves. Doing so allows me to avoid any expensive house repairs down the road, such as what we faced after that aforementioned ice dam. As far as leaves on the driveway, they are a slipping hazard—whether it's your slipping or your car's inability to gain traction. Use a rake or leaf blower to remove them.
- Dust and Vacuum Heating Elements
Once the heat comes on, you want to make sure that your heating elements are working optimally. So if you have baseboard heating, ideally you should dust and vacuum the undersides and tops of the baseboards to remove pet hair or dust. Take the same approach if you have forced air heating. Anything that is blocking your vents could cut down on the efficiency of your heating system. If you don't feel like your rooms are getting warm enough, you may be tempted to turn up the heat, which means that, in the end, you could end up paying more to heat your home this winter.