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Fall Cleaning and Maintenance Checklist

By Luke Armstrong

For many of us, fall simply can’t come soon enough. After enduring harsh summer temperatures and painful sunburns, we just want things to cool down and get the campfires going. But time will fly as we get busy with fun fall festivals, Halloween, pumpkin spice-everything, football games, and any other ways we can get outside before it starts to get crazy cold.

But these moments are also crucial when preparing for winter, such as preventing water damage, flooding, mold, frozen pipes, allergies, and appliance malfunctions. In fact, there are a number of ways you can prevent significant property damage by following this cleaning and maintenance checklist. Your future self will thank you, grateful that you will have more funds for holiday shopping instead of getting stuck with a large repair bill.

Start with the Inside:

Cleaning around the windows will prevent mold growth and water damage from water condensation.
Cleaning around the windows will prevent mold growth and water damage from water condensation.

As many of us will be spending the majority of your time inside during winter focus on the interior for deep cleaning. Before you know it, the holidays will be right around the corner, not leaving you with much time to prepare. Follow this inside cleaning checklist on how to prepare your home to be clean and comfortable for the colder temperatures to come.

  • Concentrate on rooms with highest activity. Because these rooms will see a lot of foot traffic as family members spend much of their time here, address every corner as these hidden areas will hold the most dirt and debris.
  • Clean all upholstery. Remove all sofa cushions and pillows to remove the cereal that fell down from 3 months ago. Also move the furniture as there will probably be a lot of dust bunnies underneath that were probably the culprit for triggering your allergies. Lastly, if you have any stains on the furniture, you can schedule a professional upholstery cleaning appointment to remove deeply embedded dirt and debris.
  • Wash the windows. Taking care of this chore now will allow you to get the dirt off from the summer before it freezes onto the glass in the winter.
  • Dust the blinds. Fall is always the season of allergies and mold. But you can limit the dust and debris in the air by cleaning it off of the blinds, a common spot that it is usually missed.
  • Clean around the window. These areas are commonly missed and often hold significant amounts of dust, dirt, and beads of water from condensation. Taking this step now will prevent water damage in the future.
  • Wash curtains and drapes. Check the label for cleaning instructions on how to clean the fabric. Different materials will need to be treated differently.
  • Wash all bed coverings. While they do not need to be cleaned as frequently as pillow covers, sheets, and bedspreads, they need to be cleaned sometime. Doing it before the holidays actually gives you the perfect opportunity to get it done while you have time.
  • Inspect washing machine hoses. If any are leaking or have cracks, this can lead to significant water damage that can be costly to repair, depending on how far it has spread. If you have found any small puddles in this area already, clean it up as soon as possible and call your local plumber to handle any repairs.
  • Clean air ducts will relieve allergies, lower the electricity bill, and prevent the risk of fire damage.
    Clean air ducts will relieve allergies, lower the electricity bill, and prevent the risk of fire damage.

    Purchase furnace filters for winter. Let’s face it. We only want to go out in the cold unless it is absolutely necessary. Buying furnace filters may not seem like the biggest priority during freezing temperatures, but now would be a great time to get it done.

  • Clean light fixtures. This is a chore that is often overlooked because it is not in our direct view. But they can collect a lot of dust if not cleaned regularly. If the fixture contains a bowl, you can remove and wash it to get rid of all dirt and dust.
  • Air duct cleaning. Another reason why allergies are so prominent during the fall is that there is more dust flying around than usual. But a dirty HVAC system will only contribute to the problem, in addition to others, such as the risk of fire damage and expensive electric bills. If you haven’t had one in the past 5 years, schedule a professional air duct cleaning
  • Sanitize and wipe down kitchen cupboards. How many times have you spilled something and it ran down these surfaces? Or do you have young children that run food-covered fingers along the wood doors? Cleaning these surfaces now will not only make them look better, but eliminate the bacteria to help prevent colds.
  • Carpet cleaning. Another great place for hiding embedded dirt and debris, carpets can greatly contribute to the allergy season if they not cleaned on a regular basis. If needed, schedule a professional carpet cleaning appointment with your local provider.
  • Clean and sanitize the computer. As you may have heard, there are millions of bacteria on your computer, including your mouse and keyboard. Don’t forget to clean and wipe it down thoroughly to prevent the spread of germs. You can use a micro-fiber cleaning cloth for the sreen.
  • Sweep the chimneys. Especially before you start using it each year, having the chimneys professionally inspected and swept is especially important for safety precautions. Also make sure that there is a barrier around the fire to catch any flying sparks, ashes, and burning pieces of wood.
  • Organize the kitchen. There will be a lot of holiday cooking and baking coming up and you will need all the space you can get. To prepare, organize spice cabinets, put away any appliances that weren’t used within the last week, and clear away any papers, food, and other small things that may be taking up space.
  • Clean the kitchen. After organizing it, the counters will need to be wiped down and sanitized. If you can, move the refrigerator to clean any stains, hair, dirt, and other debris that may have accumulated over time. If you look inside the cabinets and cupboards, you may also find crumbs and spots that also need to be removed in addition to organizing pots, pans, and cooking sheets.
  • Fall lawn maintenance will allow moisture to evaporate and prevent musty smells and outdoor mold growth.
    Fall lawn maintenance will allow moisture to evaporate and prevent musty smells and outdoor mold growth.

    Clean out the refrigerator. Getting rid of any expired or moldy food and removing spills, sticky spots, and crumbs will also save you time when preparing for the holidays. It will also save you room for the load of leftovers at Thanksgiving.

  • Inspect fire extinguisher. If you don’t have one already, be sure to get one before using the stove or oven again. These can prevent the damage from spreading in the case of a small kitchen fire. But if you do have one, make sure it is in proper working condition.
  • Inspect dryer tube. Because dust and debris are constantly passing through this area, the dryer tube can easily become built up with lint and create the risk for fire damage. Also make sure the exterior dryer vent door closes properly when you are not using it.
  • Schedule a furnace inspection. The last thing you want is a freezing house in freezing temperatures; try to do this before the winter months.
  • Drain sediments and debris from hot water heaters. This will prevent them from causing leaks; however, if you notice any puddles around the heater, have it inspected and repaired right away.
  • Remove mold. While small spots can be removed with bleach, borax, or vinegar, larger areas will need to be handled by professional mold remediation company. Contact your local provider right away to have them removed it as soon as possible.

Outside Fall Cleaning

  • Clean downspouts and gutters. This is one of the most important steps to take this time of year to prevent basement water damage and flooding. Make sure that all gutters and downspouts are cleared of leaves, dirt, and other debris. Doing so will allow the water to flow away from the foundation instead of running over the side and seeping into the ground.
  • Rake leaves. While this is must be done several times throughout the season, make sure that the majority of the leaves are removed from the yard. If any large piles are left behind, they can prevent water from evaporating and allow mold to grow in the spring.
  • Put away outdoor furniture and toys. To prevent rusting, stains, and other damage, storing these items in the shed before the snow hits will extend their overall lifespan.
  • Drain and store garden hoses. In addition to putting away outdoor furniture, making sure these hoses are drained of all water will prevent them from developing holes if leftover moisture on the inside freezes.
  • Apply caulk around the windows. Doing this now will not only make the home to feel much warmer, but you can save an incredible amount of money on the electric bill.
  • Paint over fading or chipped spots on railings, decks, and trim. Doing this before these surfaces become icy, wet, and cold will make them look beautiful during the holidays. You can also use a wire brush or sandpaper to remove any flaking paint.
  • Seal garage doors and windows with weather stripping. In addition to keeping out the snow and cold, covering small holes and cracks can keep out nuisance animals.
  • Allow a professional to remove medium to large mold growth cases.
    Allow a professional to remove medium to large mold growth cases.

    Drain the pool as necessary. If you have one that is above ground, draining it will prevent damage to the siding. Otherwise, make sure it is properly covered to disallow leaves and dirt from getting into the water.

  • Wash exterior windows. Doing this now will be much easier than dealing with the dirt that is frozen to the glass.

Finding Property Damage

If at any time you find any property damage caused by water or mold, don’t hesitate to have it restored right away. While inspecting these areas for leaking pipes and appliances will prevent large messes in the future, water damage cases of all sizes must be restored by a water damage restoration professional. Taking care of this problem now will allow you to relax down the road, enjoying your much-deserved holiday vacations.

When looking for a restoration provider, check out your local ServiceMaster. If you discover an emergency situation, such as a burst pipe, roof leak, kitchen fire, or sewage backup, these professionals are available 24/7. With years of experience in returning homes to their original conditions, you can expect an efficient and effective service with the use of advanced products and equipment. They will even work with your insurance carrier if you have chosen to file a claim. Ultimately, they will provide some peace of mind while restoring the affected areas to a clean and safe environment again.