The leaves are changing, the air is getting cooler and the holidays are just around the corner. Here are some great fall maintenance tips for communities and homeowners in preparation for the winter months.
Many of these items fall to the homeowner in single family home communities; however, the association is responsible for many of these fall and winter preparation activities for condo and townhome communities.
At home and in the community:
- Check smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors by pressing the test button. Be sure to change the batteries at the same time. Both smoke and carbon monoxide detectors are available at local home improvement/hardware stores. Your local fire department may also be contacted for recommendations if desired.
- Prepare furnaces for the upcoming heating season and consider calling a reputable local HVAC company to inspect furnaces, clean them and prepare them for the upcoming winter. Keeping furnaces in good working condition will help reduce heating bills and help avoid potentially serious problems. Replacing or cleaning furnace filters will also keep the air flowing through a home cleaner, making furnaces operate more efficiently and helping to lower heating bills.
Around the house and buildings:
- Clean out gutters and downspouts. Inspecting gutters and downspouts for debris and fallen leaves can reduce the chances of ice dam formation. Ice damming can cause water intrusions that may result in interior damage to ceilings, walls and personal property. After clearing as many leaves as possible from gutters, spray water down the downspouts to wash away any other debris. Gutter screens can also help reduce the number of leaves that collect in gutters. Be sure to exercise extreme caution when working on a ladder and/or roof.
- Remove hoses from hose bibs with the approach of freezing temperatures. Older style hose bibs should be covered with ‘Styrofoam’ freeze protectors. Modern sill-cock style hose bibs do not drain properly when hoses are left attached and can freeze inside the wall, damaging the sill-cock, which may not show evidence of damage until the next spring when turned back on.
In the yard and common areas:
- Run all gas-powered lawn equipment until the fuel tank is empty. Gasoline left in the tank loses its volatile components over the winter, making your mower hard to start in the spring. By draining the tank, flammable liquid storage is eliminated from the garage/storage area of a home. Be sure to also remove any dirty and/or oily rags from the garage/storage area as they can ignite spontaneously.
- Maintain a routine of leaf litter removal, etc. Rake and sweep up leaves, cut back brown plants and remove any excess organic material from your yard. Be especially sure to remove leaves from the base of plants, where harmful fungi can grow. Save cleared away leaves and other organic materials for compost or top dressing later on if desired. Speaking of top dressings, early winter is an excellent time for mulching. Place mulch over any exposed soil to insulate soil, provide nutrients and discourage weed growth all winter long.
- Water established trees and shrubs monthly from October to March, especially if it has been a year. Newly planted shrubs will require more winter water, up to twice monthly. Be sure to also mulch shrubs to retain moisture.
- Ensure that your irrigation system is properly winterized, and a sprinkler blowout is completed to prevent costly breaks in the lines from freezing water. Make sure to do this before the winter months. Backflow devices should also be insulated for extra protection against freezing water in the winter months.
Regular maintenance will help protect your home and community, and in turn, maintain the highest possible property value.