It’s officially hearty soup and heavy sweater season. But before you cozy up on the couch to support your favourite team or host some themed marathon movie weekends, it’s important to get your home ready for winter this fall. If power washing everything from the driveway to the siding to the roof and gutters seems like the fastest way to get the job done, use these easy fall home maintenance tips to accomplish everything you need to do quickly and safely.
When (and when not) to use a power washer.
Whether you own a power washer (hot water released under pressure) or a pressure washer (water released through a concentrating nozzle), use it carefully when doing home maintenance this fall. They are great for powering away a grease-stained driveway or clearing off a deck or patio at the end of barbecue season. But if you need to use a power or pressure washer in any of the following situations, select a low setting:
- Removing debris from aluminum gutters – a pressurized water stream might dent the gutters and downspouts
- Washing the roof – especially if the roof is older, the process could loosen hardware or damage the roofing shingles
- Cleaning siding – water could be forced in behind the panels where it won’t dry out and mold can grow
If the siding, driveway, or gutters have been cleaned regularly, a garden hose with a pistol-grip spray nozzle might be all you will need to remove light to medium layers of dirt from grimy surfaces.
Can You Trust Your Ladder?
Before you tackle your fall home maintenance chores, check your ladder to see if it’s in good condition. Don’t trust your ladder if:
- It’s made of wood and starting to warp
- You don’t know its weight capacity
- You can’t remember when you bought it
- It has bent rungs, missing or loose hardware, or shows other signs of damage
- It doesn’t open and close easily
One of the top five accidents that occur in the home is falling off a ladder. In most cases falling from ladders when doing maintenance chores around the house are preventable. Practice basic ladder safety. Set up the ladder on an even surface; remember the three-point contact rule; and move the ladder to avoid overreaching.
Conduct inspections from the ground.
Before you haul out the ladder, plan to conduct inspections of your home’s exterior from the ground. You can see a lot through a good pair of binoculars. Are there any missing roofing shingles? Do the gutters sag? Is there moss growing on the roof? Has wood rot appeared on the siding just under the eaves? Does debris need to be removed from a roof valley? Visually inspecting the current condition of the roof, gutters, and siding will give you a better idea of how much home maintenance is required.
Make of list of repairs (and then do them).
Putting off home maintenance tasks, particularly when heading into winter, is never a good idea. Most home exterior emergencies such as roof failure, overflowing gutters, and leaks, are preventable with regular care. A good habit to develop is to create a maintenance schedule, breaking it down into chores that need to be done weekly, monthly, and annually. After conducting a visual inspection or discovering loose gutter hangars, make any necessary repairs as soon as possible.
Get rid of the debris in the gutters.
Gutters and downspouts protect your home from roof to foundation from costly water damage. When your home’s exterior is in good shape, you and your family are safe from a failing roof, stained siding, or saturated landscaping and soil erosion, leading to potential compromised structural integrity. Get rid of the debris in the gutter system before winter arrives to ensure that it keeps functioning the way it should year-round. No clogging allowed!
Match the right tools with the task you’ll be using it for.
Invest in a dependable ladder that’s right for the task you will be using it for. For example, a step-ladder is useful for changing light bulbs in chandeliers or pendant fixtures, but if your house is two or more storeys an extension ladder is a safer choice to access the roof or to clean the gutters.
You already have a trowel you use for yard work, why not use it when you’re cleaning the gutters? Gutter scoops are typically made of plastic and will not scratch aluminum gutters like a metal trowel will.
Microfiber cloths are made of synthetic fibers that are extremely absorbent and safe – won’t harm finishes – to use on home exterior surfaces such as windows, gutters, siding, soffit, and fascia. If you are a 3 Rs person (reduce, reuse, recycle) use rags made of natural fibers and not man-made materials to avoid scratching what you’re cleaning.
Purchase several all-purpose soft bristled brushes in different sizes that can be used for different applications, smaller brushes for gutter cleaning and larger brushes to cover more area.
A soft bristle broom is the ideal tool for cleaning roofing shingles; it is less likely to remove the protective granules from asphalt roofing shingles.
Pick a day that’s not too windy.
Whether you are washing the siding, clearing out the gutters, cleaning the windows, or painting the trim around the windows and doors, you don’t want soapy water to dry before rinsing or airborne debris and dust sticking to freshly applied paint. And if you have to be on the roof or a ladder, it’s safer if the wind isn’t trying to blow you away.