Indiana Homeowner’s Guide to Fall Home Maintenance

Prepare for the fall season

With the temperature starting to cool off in the Indianapolis area, homeowners have great weather to get outdoors and do the necessary home maintenance tasks that prepare the house for winter. Work through these tasks now so your home will be ready once cold weather arrives. Mr. Plumber shares our fall home maintenance to do list to help you get ready for the winter weather that’s on its way.

Fall Plumbing Preparation

It’s important to take a look at your plumbing now to stop leaks and protect pipes that could be at risk of freezing come chilly temperatures.

  1. Inspect all toilets and faucets throughout the home for leaks. If leaks are found, fix them now or call our plumbers for assistance doing so.
  2. Remove and store garden hoses for the winter. Disconnect hoses from all outdoor spigots, drain them, coil them up, and store them in a protected area until you’re ready to use them again in the spring.
  3. Winterize outdoor spigots that are not frost-free. Close the valve on the supply pipe leading to the faucet on the inside of the wall behind the spigot. Open the outdoor spigot to release water remaining in the line. Leave the spigot open during winter so any water that may enter the pipes and freeze does not build in pressure, causing the pipe to burst or breaking the hose bibb.
  4. Protect pipes in areas prone to freezing by installing pipe wrap insulation and increasing insulation levels in areas of the home where the run. The pipes that are most likely to freeze sit the farthest away from the center of the house, run through unheated spaces, are installed along exterior walls, and sit near windows or doors.
  5. Flush tank water heaters to remove sediment only if this task has been performed regularly in years past or the unit is new. Draining the tank after several years of neglect can actually cause more harm than good.

Sump Pump Maintenance

Melting snow throughout the winter and early spring can increase groundwater levels drastically, increasing the risk of a basement or crawlspace flood. Prepare your sump pump now so it will work when you need it to.

  1. Unplug the sump pump and remove it from the sump pit. Inspect the unit for damage, including corrosion and rust. If the unit shows signs of damage, contact your plumber to arrange sump pump repairs or replacement.
  2. Clean debris from the sump pump’s inlet screen.
  3. Test the sump pump. Reinstall the unit into the sump pit and plug it back in. Fill the sump pit with water to the point where the float switch turns on the unit. Watch the sump pump to make sure it works properly and turns off as expected.
  4. Check the condition of discharge lines. Inspect the opening where water drains to make sure it is unblocked and that all water drains out of the pipe. Make sure the discharge line is positioned to drain water away from the house.

Inspect Home Exteriors

A visual inspection of the exterior of your home will allow you to identify problems and make repairs to protect against winter weather damage.

  1. Look for peeling or blistering paint on outside walls of the home. Remove the damaged paint and repaint the surface to protect the materials underneath. Painting should be performed on a low or no wind day when it is at least 60 degrees outside and the humidity level is between 40 to 70 percent – this will allow paint to properly dry.
  2. Check the foundation to find cracks. Hairline cracks running vertically usually aren’t problematic and are just cosmetic – you can cover these with caulk or paint if you like. Larger cracks still under 1/8-inch wide typically don’t pose a threat to your home but should be marked for observation – take a pencil and make a mark at each end and note the date so you can easily see development in the future. Larger cracks should be closed with caulking to prevent moisture intrusion and resulting mold growth and water damage.
  3. Inspect roofing materials, looking for shingle damage, missing shingles, and damage to flashings. Replace shingles that are missing, cracked, or buckled. If flashing is rusted or has corrosion present, clean the flashing and reseal it or remove it and have the new flashings installed to prevent leaks.

Clean Gutters

After the majority of leaves have fallen from trees around your home, clean out your gutters and inspect their condition.

  1. Scoop out all leaves, seed pods, twigs, and other debris trapped in gutters and downspouts.
  2. Spray out gutters with a hose to remove muck.
  3. Observe the flow of water as you clean your gutters, making sure there are no areas where water pools and that all downspouts drain water out of the guttering system.
  4. Make sure gutters sit flush along the gutter boards behind them and that no gutter hangers are missing or damaged, causing the gutters to pull away from the home. If issues are found, make repairs.
  5. If you have extensions installed on downspouts, inspect them now. Extensions should discharge water at least four feet from the house and sit in such a way that water doesn’t drain back to the house. For downspout extensions that feed directly into a storm drain, inspect the piping condition and make sure the opening is positioned correctly to discharge water in the intended area.

Maintenance for Heating Systems

To ensure your family has reliable heating once cold weather arrives, take time to prepare your furnace, boiler, or heat pump for winter.

  1. Schedule a heating system tune up with your HVAC company to ensure the unit receives needed maintenance for optimal performance and energy efficiency.
  2. Change furnace filters by removing the old one and installing a fresh furnace filter to trap airborne contaminants and protect the HVAC equipment.
  3. Repair any known issues with your heating system now. If you noted problems maintaining temperatures last winter or felt like there were areas of the home that didn’t receive enough heat, call your HVAC company for help now.

Chimney and Fireplace Care

If you’ll be using your fireplace and chimney throughout the winter, whether it is for warmth or mood, make sure conditions are safe.

  1. Chimneys should be inspected yearly by a chimney sweep professional. Hire a professional certified by the Chimney Safety Institute of America (CSIA) to inspect and clean your chimney and fireplace.
  2. If interior chimney walls have creosote buildup 1/8-inch thick or more, chimneys and fireplaces should be swept to remove this fire hazard.

Test Smoke Detectors and Carbon Monoxide Alarms

Smoke detectors and carbon monoxide alarms need to be tested each month and have new batteries installed every six months. The units also need to be replaced after a certain number of years.

  1. You should replace carbon monoxide alarms after 10 years of use. Take down each device and check the backside to find its date of manufacture or expiration date. If the unit is expired or will expire within six months, or the unit is 10 years old or will reach that age within six months, replace it now.
  2. You should replace smoke detectors every five to seven years. Take down each device and check for an expiration date on the backside. If the unit is expired or will expire within six months, replace it now.
  3. Install new batteries in each unit by removing the old ones and inserting fresh batteries. Old batteries may be saved to use elsewhere in the home if not fully depleted.
  4. Replace smoke detectors and test them by holding down the test button until the alarm goes off – it may take up to 20 seconds to sound. Make sure the alert sound is loud and consistent – if it is quiet, replace the unit.
  5. Replace carbon monoxide alarms and test them by holding down the test button until the alert plays. If the tone is low volume or the alert is inconsistent, replace the unit now.

Close Air Leaks

Help your household stay warm and use less energy heating the home by closing air leaks that cause heating loss.

  1. Test doors and windows for drafts. Cut a strip of paper and close it between the door or window and its frame. Try to move the paper strip – if it moves easily, the door or window requires sealing. Weatherstripping can be installed to close the seal between the window or door and its frame.
  2. Apply caulk to close drafty gaps around the outside of door frames, window frames, areas where pipes or wires move through exterior walls, foundation cracks, and other exposed areas.
  3. Call your HVAC company to schedule duct sealing. This service seals openings in the ducts caused by damage, loose joints, and other gaps that release heated air into areas other than your living spaces to help the HVAC system perform more efficiently and keep your home warmer.

Get Ready for Winter with Mr. Plumber

Make sure your Indianapolis area home is winter ready by starting your maintenance work in the fall. For assistance with plumbing needs such as leak repair or insulating pipes, call Mr. Plumber today to schedule service.

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