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Fall Home Maintenance

Updated on June 16, 2013

Gutters and Downspouts

Preventing water damage through your foundation is crucial to keeping a clean, dry, and mold-free basement. Gutters and downspouts work hardest to keep this from happening and preventing any moisture damage into your basement. If the gutters or downspouts are clogged, water spills over accumulating a larger amount of water than normal near the foundation. The soil will soak and puddle causing the foundation walls to settle. In worst case scenario, the moist soil will press on the basement walls, causing it to bulge or crack. Also, you may encounter water seeping through the walls.

Keeping your gutters and downspouts in good operating condition requires routine maintenance. A respectable rule of thumb would be to clean them thoroughly twice each year; in spring and fall. However, they may require additional attention if you see that water is running over your gutters. It is a messy job, but the regular maintenance will benefit your house foundation in the long run.

A few steps to help you clean the gutters/downspouts of your home include;

1. You will need a ladder to get to the height of your gutters and gloves to protect your hands.

2. With your hands, clean out the larger debris items, such as leaves, sticks, and needles.

3. For the smaller debris (dirt and tiny granules of asphalt roofing shingles), a garden trowel will work best.

4. Flush out the residual matter that cannot be taken by hand or trowel with a garden hose. Thoroughly flush with the hose on full blast, sending it to one of the drain openings.

5. After the gutters and downspouts have been flushed, check for any puddles of water that collected throughout. This will indicate low spots that should be addressed accordingly. Suggestion: The slope of your gutters toward the drain opening should be one inch vertically for every fifteen to twenty feet horizontally.

6. Also, check that all your nails or screws have not come loose from your gutters or downspouts. If so, fix as needed.


Remember gutter maintenance is going to require you being on a ladder. Always know your surroundings and let someone know what you will be doing while climbing a ladder. Usually having a second person with you, in any case, while climbing a ladder is beneficial in case of an emergency. Make sure the ladder is firmly planted on the ground with no room for movement. Do not step on the top step to do work. Good rule, make sure your legs and knees are able to be used as support against the ladder. Also, do not stretch out to make repairs or cleaning; always climb down and readjust the ladder as needed.

Baseboard Heating and Furnaces

If your home consists of baseboard heating, whether electric or hot water, your walls may be inclined to turning a different color. Perform a thorough cleaning on your heaters prior to switching them on. Take a damp cloth or dustless rag and wipe the top of the baseboards. Also, use a vacuum cleaner to retrieve as much dust and dirt as possible from inside the heaters by taking off the front covers; be sure not to damage the coils as this is your heating element. Damaged coils will cause your heating system to be less efficient. These coils or fins need to be as flat as possible. If needed, you can purchase a fin comb to help straighten the coils if they have been damaged.

For your central heating systems, have a professional inspect and conduct routine maintenance on your heating system in the fall prior to the cold weather arriving. Do not wait till the last minute in case the professional is booked for weeks at a time. Preventative maintenance will help eliminate fire hazards and ensure your system is working as efficient as possible, saving energy and money. Make sure all filters are replaced as well.

Safety First: Keep furniture and drapes at least 6 inches away from the electric baseboard heaters as this is a fire hazard. Do not spray the heater coils with any type of cleaning product.


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