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Stave off the Winter Chill, and Save Money, With This Fall Checklist

Posted on Nov 21, 2019 in:
  • Seattle Times HomeWork
  • Maintain
  • Homeowners

Leaves in a gutter

Q: With fall winding down and winter right around the corner, I was wondering: what I should do to prepare for the cold, wet months?

A: Winter is fast approaching and it’s time to start giving serious thought to preparing for the rain and chill of winter. Over the last 31 years, I’ve assembled this fall maintenance checklist based on my own professional and personal experience. If you do everything I’ve listed here, you will save time and money on your home. Not only that, you will stay warm, dry, and thrifty through to spring.

Fall Maintenance Checklist

  • Inspect your home’s exterior siding; look for weather-related damage, cracks, or loose mortar. Check wood trim and siding for paint deterioration, peeling, blistering, or looseness. Check windowsills and fascia boards that may be cracked, split, or decayed, as well as cracks in masonry or foundations.
  • Inspect for damage to holes in eave areas where animals and/or birds may have entered.
  • Check and replace caulking around doors and windows that show signs of deterioration. Look for missing or loose glaze in windows and replace as is needed.
  • Pressure wash walkways, steps, deck, porch treads and, every three years, your siding. Remember to treat for mildew and mold. Rake up leaves and debris.
  • Check for damage to your roof and clean gutters and downspouts to keep debris from accumulating. This is especially important during the fall season to keep leaves from building up in gutters. Check for signs of mold and mildew.
  • Treat moss on roofs with a two-to-one water and bleach mixture or Moss Out products. Hire a professional to pressure wash or rinse your roof, making sure to test on a small area first.
  • Check for any rotten wood in trees, mushrooms at the base of trees, or cracks or splits in trunks. Inspect trees that have been heavily pruned, looking for any hazards (check with a professional for repairs).
  • Make sure all flammable materials, including all lawn and power equipment, is stored away from water heaters and wiring.
  • Have your furnace cleaned and inspected annually (by a professional).
  • Check your space heaters and wood-burning stoves for safety and other hazards.
  • Have your chimney cleaned (by a professional) and inspect for any creosote buildup or damage to chimney chase.
  • Clean and vacuum dust from vents, baseboard heaters, and cold-air returns.
  • Clean the clothes dryer exhaust duct and space under the dryer. Remove lint, dust, and scraps of material. Use a washing machine cleaner solution for front-loading machines twice a year.
  • Check your home’s insulation in attic and crawl spaces.
  • Wrap your pipes with heating tape every winter and insulate unfinished rooms and garages if they contain exposed pipes. Check pipes for cracks or leaks. Have any damage repaired by a professional immediately. Try to keep you home temperature set to at least 65 degrees. Learn the location of the water valve and how to shut it off. This goes for gas too.
  • Check caulking around showers, bathtubs, sinks, and toilet bases, as well as leaks and any water damage to floors or woodwork. Make repairs as needed.
  • Repair any stairs or bannisters to prevent falls and injury.


Darylene Dennon is president and CEO of Solid Energy Inc., a member of the Master Builders Association of King and Snohomish Counties (MBAKS). If you have a home improvement, remodeling, or residential homebuilding question you’d like answered by one of MBAKS’ more than 2,700 members, write to

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