If you’ve invested in buying a home, you’ll likely want some seasonal home maintenance tips. And, for those who have purchased an older home, you have a few extra things to look after. But it doesn’t have to feel overwhelming.
Living in southern Ontario, we get the benefits of experiencing four seasons. This means that we need to ensure we tailor seasonal home maintenance to the hots and colds.
The good news is that if you manage these small things throughout the year, the likelihood of larger issues cropping up are slim. Not that we mean to scare you, but home maintenance is something that not only should be done- it needs to be done.
Most municipalities require you to upkeep your home, nicknamed “property standards” by local bylaw. In very rare cases where homeowners don’t do this, banks could force a power of sale or even foreclosure
Let’s look at some seasonal home maintenance tips and checklist items:
Spring home maintenance tips
Rake up any remaining leaves and ensure your downspouts aren’t clogged.
Turn on your outside faucets
Check to ensure you don’t have any damaged branches that could fall on your house or yard (or people!). If you have branches hanging over your house, get them cut as they are a gateway for squirrels and other animals to get onto your roof (this is especially important for older homes that have larger, more mature trees)
Reseed your lawn, filling in bald patches before the summer heat. Plant your perennials, and give them plenty of water.
Get the lawnmower and whipper snipper ready.
Walk around the outside of the house: Are there cracks in the concrete? How is the parging at the side of the house? Any gaps in the siding or brick that mice or bugs could get in?
Clogged gutters can cause a roof to leak or water to infiltrate your house if they back up. Also ensure that they haven’t come loose and grade away from your house. While you’re at it, inspect the sewer drain that they run to- don’t want pile up there!
Exterior paint looks nice and protects your shingles from water damage and rot. Look for signs of peeling or chipping paint. If you’re going to paint, call soon because painters can book up months in advance.
Have a pool? We recommend hiring a pool company to get the pool set up for summer. Book them now as they book up fast with the surge in new pools related to COVID.
And that’s not all!
For homes with central heat furnace and air conditioning, have them checked. A technician should check the ductwork for signs of damage, clean and service the furnace and A/C compressor.
Boiler? For those of you with steam heat, mostly related to older homes, drain the boiler to clear out any accumulated sediment.
Sump pump. Spring often brings rain. Check your sump pump to make sure it’s draining properly. You don’t want to find out it’s faulty when you need it most.
Chimney. Many old homes have a wood or gas fireplace. A chimney carries dangerous gases from your fireplace, wood stove or furnace out of your home. You should inspect it annually and clean periodically depending upon how often you use it.
Check your smoke alarm and carbon monoxide detectors. Do it now and do it again in the fall. Time it so that you do it when the clocks change for daylight savings time.
Summer home maintenance tips
You’re likely cutting the lawn by now, but don’t cut it too short- with hot summer days, it could kill the grass and bring in weeds. Hire a professional landscaper if you need to- It’s money well spent!
Water plants and foliage during hot summer days. Water early in the day, but not necessarily every day. Look at the upcoming weather forecast and plan accordingly.
Use sprinklers as needed, but also be mindful of the City restrictions. Be a good neighbour and follow the rules!
Does your central A/C not work? Here’s the most common problem you should check before calling a technician: Check your furnace filter to ensure that it’s not clogged. If it is, your central A/C will stop working.
Storm windows: if you have an old home, chances are you have the original windows and storm windows. If you haven’t removed them by now, get them off and open up the windows for a nice breeze!
Consider home improvement projects. Many contractors are focused on outdoor projects in the summer months. Get bids now so you can schedule the jobs for the cooler months ahead.
Fall home maintenance tips
The biggest element of fall is raking leaves. Don’t let them pile up or they’ll smother the grass, kill it and create mould. You could either rake them into leaf bags or buy a mulching mower to mulch them into tiny pieces. Mulching them creates nutrients for the soil and could actually make your lawn healthier
Gutters and downspouts: when the leaves fall, call your gutter company to clean and inspect those gutters. Any repairs need to be done on the gutters or downspouts before winter sets in. Make sure your main sewer at the street is free from leaves.
Also, make sure the downspouts are aimed in the right direction. This means they are draining away from your home. You don’t want them draining and then running back into the side of your house, or worse the garage
Outdoor water taps: be sure to shut them off from the inside. They can freeze and burst, potentially flooding your basement.
Firewood. Ryan’s favourite thing about fall! If you plan to use your fireplace this winter, stock up on seasoned firewood in the fall. Stack it on pallets, so it does not sit on the moist ground.
If you have central air, cover it up. Some come with a cover, but if not just get a tarp and use bungee cords around the unit. This keeps mice from getting in, as well as moisture and ice over the winter which could damage the unit.
And that’s not all!
Get your furnace and ductwork serviced. A clean system will be more energy efficient, and an inspection will alert you to problems. Check and replace air filters, as necessary.
For homes heated with steam heat, call the plumber for its annual checkup.
Walk around the house and check windows and doors for drafts. Put those storm windows back in!
Clothes dryers cause 2,900 fires a year. You need to ensure there are no blockages from the dryer to the exterior vent and that everything connects properly.
Smoke and carbon monoxide detectors: Change batteries with daylight savings time!
Planning renovations to update the bathroom, or paint the living room? Fall is a good time to get moving on those projects: The temperature is usually moderate and many contractors have wrapped up their outdoor projects for the year.
Winter home maintenance tips
Make sure your snow blower is in good working order before it snows. Don’t be caught when the first major storm comes along. No snow blower? Make sure you have a few good shovels before it snows, because Home Hardware will get a rush of buyers when the snow starts.
Stock up on supplies: Get ice salt before you need it! We’ve seen seasons where it’s impossible to find, so get it while no one wants it!
Heating systems. Check and change filters on your heating system. Keep an eye on the water levels in your boiler to make sure they do not fall too low.
Frozen pipes and downspouts. When water freezes in pipes, it expands, damaging or cracking the pipes. When the ice melts, and the pipe bursts, your home fills with water. Shut off and drain outdoor faucets before the cold weather hits.
Generator. Although it’s not likely you’ll need it, having it as a backup could come in very handy if needed. Generators can be useful for lights, sump pump and more
Winter storm prep. Like a generator, it’s unlikely you’ll be housebound for days. But, it’s worth having a few of the essentials on hand just in caes. Candles, matches, water and non perishable foods could keep you in good shape if needed.
Have more questions? Get in touch with us!
Related: This blog is part of a larger, 16 part series on “Things to consider when buying an older home“.