By: Laurie Mega
Fall is a major transition time for your properties. There’s a lot to do to get them ready for the colder weather. In fact, you may even want to start lining up vendors, ordering supplies, and scheduling inspections in the summer months.
For all of your single-family properties, there is a list of tasks to complete both inside and outside the home. By getting ahead of fall maintenance now, you’re saving yourself and your tenants time and hassle, while saving your owners money on emergency repairs.
To help you cover all your bases, we’ve collected a list of tasks for both the interior and exterior of your properties. We like to call it the ultimate guide to fall maintenance for single-family properties.
Exterior Clean-Up and Maintenance
There’s plenty to do outside to get ready for winter. Here are the tasks to check off before the temperature drops.
Clean Up Yards
Clean up those fall leaves and remove fallen branches or other organic debris. Letting all that rotting material linger on the ground, especially under a layer of snow, discourages grass growth in the spring.
Don’t prune your bushes, though. Many people do that to prepare for spring, but pruning bushes that are slowing down growth to prepare for winter can inhibit further growth when the weather warms.
Clean the Gutters
Clear gutters of leaves, branches, and other debris. Clogged gutters can’t handle runoff from melting snow, which can puddle and freeze on roofs, causing ice dams and leaks.
Even if you’re not in a snowy area, rain that can’t drain through the gutters will find another way off the roof, usually through gaps that lead into the walls.
Assess the Roof
While your team is up there, have them take a good look at the roof. Make sure there are no loose shingles or areas of decay. Check around vents to make sure they’re sealed properly. Gaps are a great place for water and melted snow to leak down into the home.
Line Up a Snow Removal Company
If you haven’t already, hire a snow removal company now to clear driveways and walkways. Don’t wait for the first major storm to start calling around. You probably won’t find anybody.
Pro tip: If you’re using a customizable property management system, use custom fields to track maintenance projects across your properties. Then you can create customized reports to monitor the status of your fall maintenance checklist.
Tend to Your Gardens
Fall is the time to get flower beds ready for spring and summer. Prep your beds by adding compost and turning the soil. You’ll want to plant your spring bulb, as well.
Winterize the Sprinkler Systems
When you’re done watering your lawns for the year, make sure you have them drained properly. Water left in sprinkler systems can freeze and crack your pipes.
Winterize Pools and Decks
If your properties have pools, get them ready for winter by cleaning, balancing and adding winterizing chemicals, lowering the water levels, and covering them.
For decks, store the furniture and inspect them for loose boards, railings, or screws. Have any weak spots repaired. Then, give the deck a good cleaning and a layer of water seal, if it needs it.
Pro tip: Have your snow-removal company take care of decks, too. Prolonged contact with snow can damage wood, and all that weight puts a lot of pressure on the deck’s structure.
Your properties are all set on the outside. Now it’s time to take a look inside. Schedule a time to inspect your properties and make sure all of these tasks are performed.
Take a look in attics to make there is sufficient insulation. If it’s an older home, consider having it assessed for heat efficiency and getting insulation blown into the walls, if necessary.
Pipes that run along external walls should be insulated, as well, to keep from freezing and bursting in extremely cold weather.
As the weather gets colder, animals are going to find your cozy home pretty attractive. To keep pests out, plug up gaps, cracks, and other access points. Taking care of it now is a lot cheaper than removing a family of raccoons or a mouse infestation in the middle of winter.
Check Furnace and HVAC Systems
Schedule a furnace cleaning to have filters replaced and buildup removed, particularly for oil-burning furnaces. Check HVAC systems and keep replacing the filters on a regular basis.
Inspect Windows and Doors
Check the seals on windows and doors to make sure they’re airtight. Caulk or add rubber seals to areas where cold air or water could seep in.
If the windows are older, switch out screens for storm windows.
Regular safety checks are always a good idea. Perform one in the fall to address season-specific concerns.
In areas that experience heavy rains or melting snow, make sure your properties are ready for flooding. Seal up cracks in foundations and make sure water from roofs and gutters is channeled away from the home.
Make sure driveways and walkways have proper run-off and drainage. You may even want to consider planting rain gardens, which can absorb large amounts of water to prevent flooding.
Fire prevention measures can be performed on both the interior and exterior of a property. For the exterior, remove dead trees and branches from the yard, and take down tree limbs that hang over roofs.
Pro tip: Taking down large limbs hanging over roofs can prevent damage from branches that break in winter ice storms or under the weight of snow.
Inside the home, make sure tenants aren’t using space heaters and that drapes and other cloth materials are kept away from radiators.
Carbon Monoxide/Smoke Detector Maintenance
Check all carbon monoxide and smoke detectors on a regular basis. Replace batteries and make sure detectors are placed on every floor in the house.
If a tenant has removed them, educate them on the importance of the detectors and make sure they keep them up.
Fireplace and Chimney Maintenance
Have a chimney-cleaning company come in to inspect and clean chimneys and fireplaces. They will make sure the chimney is structurally sound and that there is no debris inside it. They’ll also clean both the fireplace and chimney to remove ash and creosote.
Fall maintenance is essential to keeping your tenants safe and happy, while keeping your owners from having to spend money on expensive repairs. Take this checklist and set up a plan to knock each one of these tasks out before the weather gets too cold. Your tenants and your owners will thank you.