My family has spent as much time as we can outdoors over the summer months. The same is true for most people I know. We have seized every opportunity to take a walk, go on a hike, read a book outdoors, eat dinner on the deck, visit with neighbors. And it’s not just because of COVID (although that certainly was a factor this year). In the Pacific Northwest, we collectively rush outdoors on the first warm-ish day of early spring, and there we stay until the last warm-ish day of fall. We have to. We know how long and dark the rainy season will be.
While we still (hopefully!) have a month or two of nice weather to enjoy, the rain and chilly weather will return. (And don’t tell—but most PNWers secretly love it.) Before that happens, though, there are some important home maintenance chores to tackle to make sure your home is safe and snug for the winter months. Here’s a handy checklist:
Wash your garbage cans and recycling bins. What? Why? I’ll tell you why: those suckers STINK. And you’re much better off hauling your garbage cans and recycling bins outside to wash and dry in the sunshine while there is still sunshine to be had. Just trust me. Is this fun? No? Is it necessary? Yes.
Clean the oven and fridge. As long as you’re cleaning gross things, might as well tackle the oven and refrigerator. De-scum and de-grease the inside of your oven (be sure to follow manufacturer cleaning instructions). It’s nice to get this done before baking a lasagna—or a Thanksgiving turkey!—this fall. Vacuum your refrigerator coils. Remove the contents of the fridge and freezer and wipe down the shelves and drawers before replacing items. If you’re feeling motivated, you can even move the entire unit and vacuum and mop underneath. Let the floor dry completely before moving the fridge back into place.
Washing machine and dryer maintenance. You don’t do this?! (Yeah—me neither. But you should. I should. We) After all, gunky stuff (technical term) can build up in your washing machine over time. Simply run a hot cycle along with a couple of cups of white vinegar, and then wipe down the inside and doors of the machine. Find more detailed instructions here. For the dryer, you can also wipe down the inside and outside of the machine with a damp rag. Thoroughly clean the lint trap (do this after every load!). Fall is also a great time to make sure that the dryer vent is completely clear—an important step for fire prevention, and to make sure that the dryer operates as efficiently as possible. Check the manufacturer instruction for how to clear the vent, or else your heating system maintenance provider can usually help with this chore. And speaking of . . . .
Heating system maintenance. You might still be running the AC, but it’ll be time to switch to heating your home before you know it. Now is the time to book routine maintenance for your heating system to make sure everything is in working order. Replace the furnace filter, too.If you have a fireplace, now is the time to check the chimney and flue. (You should also order firewood!) If you have a gas-burning fireplace, vacuum any dust and cobwebs, and follow the manufacturer instructions for cleaning and turning the gas back on.
Seal the house. Your heating system might be in perfect order, but you don’t want to heat the neighborhood, right?! Seal any gaps in your home through which warm air can escape. Add door sweeps and weather-stripping to doors, and caulk windows.
Shut down the A/C. While you’re getting your heating system prepped, it’s also time to remove and store any window air conditioning units. If the unit cannot be removed, consider covering the exterior to help protect the device.
Safety Considerations. Do a check of your home and make sure you’re emergency-ready. Test the carbon monoxide and smoke detectors and replace the batteries as necessary. (I like to replace ours when Daylight Savings begins.) Make sure you know where the fire extinguishers are located—and check to see if they have expired. Replace as necessary. Now might also be a good time to do a radon test, particularly if you live in an older home. High levels of radon in the home can cause cancer. You can schedule a test with a professional, or pick up an inexpensive DIY test. Finally, get your power outage kit ready! Put fresh batteries in the flashlights and headlamps, and know where the matches and candles are. Pro tip: keep a pack of cards handy, too!
Keep your friends out. No, not your actual friends. But know that furry and feathery creatures are eager to come in out of the cold, too. In addition to making sure doors and windows are properly sealed, also make sure that pest screens on dryer and attic vents are intact.
Carpet cleaning. If you’ve had windows and doors open all summer, dust and dirt invariably blow into the house—and much of it settles in the carpet. Early fall is an ideal time to have your carpets cleaned because you can open windows to help quickly dry the carpets. Hire a professional, or rent a steam cleaner.
Clean some more! I know spring cleaning is a “thing,” but I like to do a deep clean of our home in the fall, too—before we’re all indoors for months on end. I follow most of the same tips I share in my Spring Cleaning Checklist.
Whew! You’ve done the hard work, and you’re ready to enjoy being warm and safe at home, all winter long.
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Sharon was recently recognized as the #1 Individual Agent in the #1 Real Estate office in the State of Oregon. Recognized as a FIVE STAR Real Estate Agent in Portland, Oregon for 9 years. Sharon has been named top 1% in the RMLS, and has been a member of PMAR's Masters Circle Diamond Platinum Level. Also a Neighborhood Favorite on Nextdoor and a Zillow Premiere Agent. Having lived both in the city & the suburbs, she is a great resource for relocation clients. She has worked extensively with first time home buyers & first time home sellers, upsizers, downsizers and investors. She also has experience in multi-family units, plexes, and timberland. She is the third generation in her family to be in the real estate business. Sharon graduated from the University of Oregon with a MBA in Marketing & International Business, and from Loyola Marymount University with an emphasis in Business Management. She lives in SW Portland with her husband and three kids and enjoys volunteering in the community. She is a proud supporter of Jesuit Volunteer Corps Northwest, being a former Jesuit Volunteer in Woodburn, Oregon as well as a previous Board Member. She loves hiking, traveling and going to the beach. Basketball and softball were her favorite sports to play, and while she never played soccer - her husband and kids do - and now she appreciates the beautiful game. Sharon would love the opportunity to work with you!