22 Sep Edmonton Home Maintenance – Autumn Checklist
Happy Autumn Equinox. It’s that exciting time of year when us Edmontonians have to start thinking about the frost and it’s particularly harsh bite. Get your house and loved ones ready for the winter to come by performing all needed Edmonton home maintenance to ensure the safest winter possible. It may be daunting to get started, that is why we at Keylo University have prepared a simple checklist to make it as easy as 1, 2, … 17 I think?
Prepare your landscaping
Tend to your trees and shrubs
Check the overall health of your trees and ensure there will be no unnecessary additional maintenance during the winter or limbs falling off that may become a hazard.
Prune dead wood and water shoots where needed to keep your trees thriving and promote positive regrowth in the spring. Look for any broken or damaged branches that may fall if weighed down by large icicles or hit with heavy wind. You want to prevent large tree limbs from causing damage to your property or harming your household members during a snowstorm or blizzard.
Keep in mind that dry or dead wood limbs may become more brittle in freezing temperatures which may result in easier breakage. If you have any shrubs you wish to protect from the elements, cover them with burlap.
Rake the leaves
Do your best to rake the leaves on your property before the snow falls. We all love the beautiful colours of autumn leaves blanketing our lawn, but leaving them throughout the winter will turn into a soggy matt that will smother your grass and prevent spring regrowth. Tip – Use the dead leaves for compost!
Mow and fertilize your lawn
In addition to raking your leaves, there are a couple other things you can do to prepare your lawn for the winter as part of your Edmonton home maintenance routine. Many forget that even though the growing season is coming to an end, your lawn does still need to be watered. Watering in the autumn helps grass recover from the stress of summer growth, heat waves and droughts as well as gain strength to survive the harsh winter ahead. Continue to water your lawn until the ground begins to freeze.
Try to fertilize your lawn 3 weeks before you plan to do your last cut of the season. Planning your Edmonton home maintenance is especially challenging because of the ever changing weather schedule, but do your best to plan it out. Grass roots store food supplies throughout the winter months which allow the grass to emerge from their winter hibernation with positive regrowth. Fertilizing in the autumn supplies the grass roots with energy and nutrients to grow and store before becoming dormant in the cold. Remember, you need to water after fertilizing so it can be absorbed into the soil and ultimately the roots.
Relieve compaction of your soil by creating extra pore spacing to allow for air, nutrients and water to penetrate and nourish easier so your roots have the best chances to thrive. This is called aerating, which is done by creating holes in the ground. The most effective way to do this is removing choice plugs instead of only poking random holes.
When it comes time to do the final mowing of the year, cut your lawn to 1.5 to 2 inches. Cutting it shorter before the snowfall will give the grass lots of room for the early spring sprouting and prevent snow mold from forming.
Tend to your garden
Purge any annual flowers or vegetable crops that have been used up or will be unable to survive the winter. Doing this early will help prepare your soil for spring planting and regrowth.
Do any final landscape cleaning
Inspect your yard for anything that may damage your soil bed, grass, garden and for anything that may become ruined if left out. Remove or put away any rocks, leashes, animal droppings, extension cords, or tools that are laid about.
Edmonton Home Maintenance means INSPECT your Exterior
Walk around your house and look for crack in your siding, damage to your entryways or issues with foundation. You want to schedule these repairs for before the harsh winter arrives when Edmonton home maintenance becomes virtually impossible! If there are any spots for bugs, critters or wildlife to enter, seal these up to prevent unwanted house guest raiding your pantry or seeking shelter from the frost.
Clean your gutters and downspouts
Gutters and downspouts are responsible for draining thousands of gallons of water each year which, if not properly maintained could result in damage to your roof, siding or foundation. Once the autumn leave have fallen, make sure to unclog and remove any blockages. A plastic spatula works wonders to get into all of the crevices and a plumbers drain snake will assist in pulling clumps out of downspouts.
Additionally, assess the condition of your gutters and downspouts, replacing if necessary. Check for leaks or damage, make sure the gutters are aligned, the spikes holding them are secure and the downspouts are directing water away from the house, driveway and sidewalks.
Ensure your roof can last the winter
Inspect your roof thoroughly either using a ladder or binoculars. Look for broken or missing shingles and replace them. If there is a lot of damage, consider getting a new roof. While this may be expensive, it will save you the headache of dealing with a flooded house later on. Perhaps a roof melting system is a reasonable purchase in the Edmonton home maintenance process that may help keep piles of snow and ice from accumulating.
Repair any cracks in your sidewalks and driveways
Small cracks can easily turn into big cracks by filling with water, freezing then expanding. In order to prevent giant potholes in your driveway or crumbled dangerous concrete, fill in these small cracks with concrete filler. This will also make shoveling much easier and prevent tripping on uneven, split pieces. You may want to mark out your driveway and pathways to ensure a more straight-forward snow removal. Given the stark difference in temperate we experience here, this is a paramount step in Edmonton home maintenance.
Ensure your outdoor stairs and railings are sturdy
You want to make navigating and accessing your home as easy and safe as possible throughout the winter season. Ensure any outdoor stairs are in good condition and your railways are sturdy enough to support you if the stairs become icy.
Finish any outdoor painting
If you are planning to paint or repaint your exterior this year, it is best to do it before it gets cold. Wet paint will not dry evenly or potentially flake away if it freezes. Plan to paint when this will not happen and also try to avoid painting in direct sunlight, which may cause it to bubble. Furthermore, if you have a surplus of paint that you wish to save for future projects, bring it inside as latex and acrylic paint will not withstand the freezing temperatures.
Shut off and drain outdoor water supplies
With the imminent bone-shattering temperatures we are accustomed to experience during winter months in Edmonton, a pipe freezing and/or bursting is a real risk you can encounter if you don’t properly prepare.
Close or seal exterior spigots and turn off the water supply to your outdoor faucets. To lessen the burden of Edmonton home maintenance each year, it may be within reason to look at getting freeze-proof faucets to further prevent any possible damage to your pipes, especially if your house is older and has a higher risk of this happening from poor insulation.
Don’t forget about the water supply for outdoor or underground sprinklers and fountains. Furthermore, remember to disconnect and drain all of your garden hoses before storing them.
Store your outdoor furniture
While patio sets and lawn chairs are designed to be used outdoors, if you wish to preserve the condition and maintain their longevity, it would be best to store them somewhere out of the winter elements. If storing them indoors is not an option, locate space in your garage or shed.
There are plenty of options to optimize your storage space so these items can be effectively stowed for the winter. For example, you can get brackets to hang you lawn chair so they don’t occupy limited ground space. If putting them in storage is simply not an option, do your best to protect them by sheltering any cushions or blankets that pair with your outdoor furniture and source a waterproof cover for the rest.
Store your outdoor appliances
Put away your lawnmower, leaf blower or any other motorized tools once finished using for the season. It is also a good idea to clean off any residual dirt, grim, leaves, grass, etc. from these items.
If you don’t typically barbecue in -40 degrees, you may also want to store and cover your BBQ. Scrub off left over food or coal and bring in an utensils you may typically leave with the unit.
Bring inside portable outdoor fire pits and cover buried, or tabletop fire pits. It may be wise to also clean out the soot and coals from these as well before you store or cover them.
Chimney & HVAC preparation is crucial in Edmonton home maintenance
Shut down the air conditioner
When you are sure you no longer need to cool down your house, turn off your a/c unit. If you have an exterior unit, give it a thorough clean and inspection before covering it with vinyl or plastic cover. You may want to add additional insulation around the unit itself or the pipes and wiring.
If you have a window mounted air conditioning unit, remove them before it becomes cold. There is nothing worse than forgetting about it and having to stand by the open window in the middle of a blizzard to take it out, especially if you have to switch out a screen, unscrew or unmount any pieces. This goes for any other window mounting hardware you may have like the revolutionary “catio” or otherwise.
Clean your chimney
Make sure your chimney is cleaned and maintained. Remove any soot build up or obstructions and check for cracks in the liner or water damage. If you don’t have a chimney cap, you may want to get one to keep out any unwanted guests.
Edmonton home maintenance essentials ... your furnace.
Ensure your furnace is cleaned and working properly before you are in need of it. You may need to clean the pilot system or blower motor. Check the heat exchanger, pipes, valves and gas lines for cracks, leaks or any other damage. A furnace typically lasts 15-20 years with proper care. It may be time to either schedule an inspection or get a replacement. The first thing you want to do is replace the filter if it is old, worn out and dirty. Check other great resources to learn how to check in more detail.
Check your hot water radiator
You want to make sure your water radiator is doing its job and this is a good time to check. If there is air trapped inside, some of the ‘fins’ that are responsible for proper heat transfer will stay cold. You may need to bleed the radiator, clear an air vent, or change the filter. Family Handyman has a simple ‘how-to’ for this, or you can always consult a specialist to fix or replace them.
Vents, Ducts and Filters, oh my.
Give your house a walk through to inspect all of your outlets and air distribution systems. While this should part a regular or monthly Edmonton home maintenance, it is particularly important before we get into the thick of winter. You want to make sure your vents aren’t clogged with debris or obstructed by something that may have fallen inside.
Locate each of your registers and air grills to clean out the dirt, dust and … cobwebs, yuck. While the registers typically have a valve to control air flow, you want to have at least 80% of them open to allow proper flow. With that in mind, you should also be moving all rugs, furniture or miscellaneous belongings away from these outlets.
You will want to inspect each junction of your ducts for leaks, damage or loose connection which can be repaired with sealant, duct tape or switching out a section with a new, undamaged piece.
Along with your furnace, air conditioner and radiator, you should replace any other filters in your house including; dryer, humidifier, electronic air filter, water filter and range hood.
Improve your Energy Efficiency
You may want to perform an energy audit to assess your current energy efficiency and make possible improvements. Making sure your HVAC system is working most effectively, clearing out vents and replacing filters will have a big impact on improving your energy efficiency but there are additional steps you can take.
Windows and Doors
Check all windows and doors for drafts that may allow icy breezes to creep in. This can result in costly heat bills, especially during those extra cold months with the heavy carbon use taxes we have. A part of your Edmonton home maintenance checklist should include looking for ways to reduce your carbon footprint while also saving some extra money for the spiked grocery bills. Getting appropriate weather stripping is a quick and beneficial way to prevent the breeze from letting the cold in and drawing the essential heat out.
Mend any other air leakage points
Plug holes, gaps in foundation, or any other small connective spots where air might pass through. Sometimes outlets, switches, light fixtures, or wire entries can be a source of small air leakage. Do your best to find and properly seal these using insulation, caulking or sealant.
Add insulation to regular Edmonton home maintenance checks
If you have old or inadequate insulation, it may be necessary to replace pieces or all of it. Moisture, pests and mold are things that can do damage to your insulation, so do an evaluation to unearth any cause for concern. Alternatively, you may discover that you have old insulation that isn’t effective for our cold weather or contains harmful chemicals and opt to switch out all of it for better or safer materials.
Look around for places where there might not be any at all, like crawl spaces, attics or rim joints. Even if you decide to leave your existing home insulation alone, these places are huge energy losers and will save you tons if they are addressed.
Hiring someone to conduct an audit might be something to consider. A professional can evaluate everything in your home to ensure maximum efficiency and give you useful recommendations for both cost savings and footprint reduction.
Check safety and air quality devices
Check your carbon monoxide and smoke detectors to make sure they are working properly and replace the batteries if needed.
Check the expiration date of your fire extinguisher ( if you have one … which you should). You can request an inspection if you don’t know how to check it properly or get a new one.
You may want to consider running additional tests on your home’s air quality as the weather becomes colder. If your regular Edmonton home maintenance hasn’t been performed as thoroughly as it should have been in recent years, your AQI could be negatively impacting your health. During the winter months, the windows stay shut and the air flow in the home may not have enough ventilation. Radon and other air chemicals can be very harmful to your health at high levels.
Do any put off deep cleaning
You may or not partake in spring cleaning, but a big clean like that shouldn’t just happen in the spring but also when you are getting ready to hunker down and enter cold weather hibernation mode. Take a day to due labor-intensive cleaning tasks to make your home easier to maintain during the winter while also giving you the change to inspect the overall condition of your appliances and home structure.
In the kitchen, for example, you could;
- Degrease the range hood or stove vents.
- Clean the oven interior and outlets.
- Vacuum the refrigerator coils and clean dust around the vents.
If there is anything I am more sure of, is that scheduling your Edmonton home maintenance before temperatures drop below zero is almost impossible with the consistent weather inconsistency we experience every year. So, get a start on the list now and avoid missing any important steps. A well maintained home is a happy home.
Have any questions, or looking for tips? You can always ask us!