Welcome to November! In the Midwest, this month is all about transition. We typically see a noticeable shift in our weather during this month, and we also begin to gear up for the holiday season. In fact, holiday open houses and special events at our local shops are already starting this weekend! Summer is long gone, fall has been in full swing, and those of us who live in the North certainly need to get our homes (and ourselves) prepared for the upcoming winter.
I thought this blog would be the perfect place to share a few of my recommended maintenance ideas for homeowners and investors to work on throughout this month. Speaking from experience, it’s best to try to get these items completed before Thanksgiving, especially if you are planning to sell your home this winter. After you check these tasks off your list, you will be able to relax and work on your normal cleaning and cooking for holiday festivities, and of course just enjoying time with family and friends.
November Home Maintenance Tips
1. Review the family fire escape plan with every member of your household. Statistically, more house fires occur during the winter months because of space heaters, generators, candles, etc. Don’t let that cozy fireplace or extra heat become a safety threat rather than a welcome source of warmth.
2. When setting clocks back to Standard Time (Daylight Savings time ends November 5th this year), change the batteries in all your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors. Make this check/tune-up a habit any time you change time during the year. For most of us, that means all detectors are examined twice annually.
3. Inspect your automatic garage door opener and lubricate the tracks according to the manufacturer’s directions. Make sure all the bolts and screws are properly tightened and secured. This is important because your garage door function will be affected by the freeze/thaw pattern we experience during the winter.
4. Check for leaks around your washing machine. According to research I’ve done after leaks found during home inspections, prime locations for pesky leaks are the water supply hose washers that connect to the machine. Inspect the hoses and replace if necessary. This should be just part of annual home maintenance.
5. Prepare your fireplace for use during the winter. Discard old ashes if your fireplace is wood-burning, and ensure the flue/damper is open to allow air to move freely through the chimney. If the air becomes cold, close the damper after you’ve cleaned it or all that cold air will make your home chilly. Check the damper handle and springs to ensure the flue is operating correctly, so when you build that cozy fire, it will ventilate properly.
6. Make sure your gutters are clean. This task is critical! If you live in an area that gets rain, ice, or snow during winter months, please take the time to get this done, or at least call a professional service to take of it. It’s very important to clear out leaves and other debris so they do not freeze and crack your gutters as the weather gets cold. This could get very expensive and cause other problems if it’s not taken care of before you have snow or freezing rain. Those forgotten leaves will get heavy very quickly and can do serious damage to your home’s gutters. Unfortunately, I have seen gutters that froze with leaves left in them, and not only did they crack, they pulled away from the roofline and did damage to the perimeter of the home.
I hope you all enjoy this beautiful month, and be sure to get outside and make the most out of the remaining nice days in the forecast! I know many regions have already had snow and frosts, so stay cozy! We should all try to take advantage of any mild weather as we make our way through November because we know cold days are ahead for the great majority of us.
In the meantime, let me know what other maintenance tasks you work on to prepare your home for the winter season. It’s likely I have missed or overlooked a project that homeowners in specific regions complete each year to combat whatever Mother Nature throws their way. I’d love to hear more about how you prepare your home, property, and anything else for wintry conditions.