6 Fall Preventative Maintenance Tips

Fall is upon us, bringing with it all of the things we know and love about autumn, including everything from glorious foliage to holiday cheer. However, the seasonal shift can also be accompanied by unwanted aspects — particularly for property managers who don’t stay ahead of the game. These six preventative maintenance tasks can help keep your property in optimal condition as the thermometer drops.

1. Conduct Roof and Gutter Checks

While everything from sun exposure to excess moisture can compromise the lifespan of a roof, catching these issues early can help solve them with a quick fix instead of a massive repair.

A basic roof check includes checking the attic ceiling for leaks, stains and dark spots, sagging areas, and light peeking through. Cracked paint, plasterboard discoloration, and peeling wallpaper throughout a property’s interior may also indicate potential roof trouble.

This is also the time to check for clogged gutters, which not only lead to basement flooding and ruined paint jobs, but may also contribute to roof rot.

2. Schedule Chimney Cleanings and Inspections

More than 20,000 residential fires start in fireplaces and chimneys annually, according to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission. Because of this, the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) recommends that fireplaces, chimneys, flues and vents be inspected at least once a year.

With winter burning and heating season in the near future, fall is the perfect time to schedule chimney cleanings and inspections, which can reveal a number of different problems — from soot and creosote buildup to blown leaves and branches. Even nesting animals can become a serious hazard if not cleared out.

3. Have Furnaces Serviced

With cold weather about to kick in, annual furnace checkups not only offer energy savings, but can also prolong the life of your furnace. Routine furnace servicing ensures that units are clean, well-adjusted, and working at top capacity. An HVAC professional will also perform potentially life-saving carbon monoxide checks.

4. Perform Window and Door Checks

Air leaks are the greatest source of squandered heating and cooling energy — particularly during fall and winter when warm air from inside leaks outdoors through cracks and crevices. Caulking and weather-stripping are effective preventative measures, which is why identifying these areas and sealing them is so important.

Perform a visual inspection of all places where different building materials intersect to determine air leaks. Windows and door frames are common culprits: If they rattle or daylight seeps around them, they may require caulking, weather-stripping or replacement.

Or, hire a qualified technician to conduct an energy assessment which will reveal air leaks and more.

5. Check Sump Pumps

Sump pumps are only as good as the condition they’re in. And while sump pumps are essential to preventing water damage, they’re useless if not functioning properly.

A regular sump pump maintenance program includes removing accumulated dirt and debris while checking that float and check valves are both moving freely. Annual sump pump tests — which involve pouring a bucket of water into the sump pit to ensure that it’s working right and that water is being pumped away from our home — are also recommended.

As with all equipment with moving parts, sump pumps eventually require replacement. Routine checks can help you catch this issue before water starts pouring in.

6. Check Trees and Bushes

Large tree branches and limbs can become serious winter storm hazards. Trim trees and bushes back from properties to minimize risk. The condition and health of large trees and limbs should also be inspected to determine whether they’re likely to break and fall during strong, gusty winds.

The arrival of cold weather doesn’t have to mean headaches for property managers. Adding these tasks to your “to do” list can help keep your properties up and running, while preventing costly deferred maintenance down the line.