Jay's Fall/Winter Seasonal Chores List

It's that time of year again.  It's time for: 


Specifically, the Fall/Winter Seasonal Chores List.  You have to do it anyway, so this gift is for you.

Every year I will be driving home and hear on the news that it will get below freezing during the night.  That's the time I usually realize I have not gotten ready for fall or winter.  My hose bibs immediately spring to mind.  Note: Obviously this is long past true for some of the country.  My list is pretty complete, though likely not totally complete.  No one ever knows everything.  But, I thought it would be helpful to share some of it with you.

* Winterize the exterior hoses. Turn off the interior valves, open the exterior bibs and loose the little cap beside the interior valve to let water drain out.

* Test your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors.  Replace the batteries if that has not been done in a while.

* Spruce up any disastrous exterior caulking. Be sure to use the right caulk for the right application! Caulking is the cheapest and easiest energy saver.  Be sure the caulk is fully dried before it freezes.

* Boilers - check the safety relief valve.

* Steam Boilers - Each month, flush the blow-off valve on the low-water cutoff; test the water feed valves.

* Furnace - replace (or clean) the filters monthly; oil the fans or circulators; manipulate the duct dampers or register covers to divert more hot air downstairs and less up (do not close off air completely to any level or room). Oil furnaces should be checked for back puffing. Ideally, all furnaces should have annual maintenance examinations by a licensed professional.

* Clean moss on the roof - be sure to use something that does not kill the grass or garden shrubbery. A product called "Spray and Forget" is a recent favorite of mine.

* Clean gutters of debris. If your house is near many trees, solid gutter covers are highly recommended.

* Place sticky cricket catchers in the basement and garage.

* Septic system - pump the tank if it is time. If you have two fields this is a good time to divert to the unused field.

* Check your chimneys for creosote and sweep if needed.

* Improve foundation drainage as necessary.

* Test GFI outlets.

* Check the garage door reversing mechanism.

* Gas water heater - drain some water from the bottom valve to remove sediment.

* Open crawl space vents.

* Dryer - clean behind, clean what is possible of the vent inside the wall and check the vent flap outside for lint.

* Private water system - pump air into the tank if the pump turns on often.

* Sprinkler system - if you cannot do it yourself, have your maintenance company by to blow the water out of the lines, disconnecting things where necessary, so that only air is left inside.  You don't want your tubing breaking underground over the winter.

* Kitchen - clean dust from behind or under the fridge; clean the range hood fan and replace vent screens; clean disposal (vinegar and baking soda work well, followed by lemon peels).

This is by no means a complete list, but it will serve you well. It works for me!

Preparation is everything. As a guy associated with the Boy Scouts for a long time, I can tell you it is good to "be prepared...!" That may be one of the best mottoes ever written.

My recommendation: Be regular and have foresight! Home maintenance, in the long run, costs about 1% of the value of a home per year. Pay attention to the small stuff, and the big things will take care of themselves.


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Jay performs inspections Monday through Saturday, throughout Northern Virginia, from his office in Bristow to Leesburg and Centreville, to Great Falls and Vienna and everywhere in between!