Many people find autumn to be romantic, with the plummeting temperatures and the dramatic change in fall colors. For homeowners however, the opposite is true.
Autumn usually means a ton of yard cleaning, gutter and drainage prep, and of course, the annual ritual of preparing for the cold season. There’s home sealing, HVAC cleaning, heating… and that’s just if you live in one of the milder zones.
To help put you in the proper mindset, here are five of the most common home quality issues you need to know about during the fall.
1. Air Filters
Fall is when your furnace, heaters, fireplace, and HVAC start to earn their keep, before the full brunt of winter sets in. And one of the biggest obstacles to their efficiency are dirty air filters. A dirty air filter can reduce the device’s operating efficiency by as much as 15%, shorten its lifespan, and lead to higher utility bills.
Make sure to check the filters for each of your air-breathing appliances, and give them a thorough cleaning. If necessary, replace the filters according to the service interval.
To know more about filter cleaning, check out our related entry.
This applies to several areas of the house. Since the cold will see a deluge of yard debris, ice, and water, it’s best to check these areas and clear out any blockages well in advance:
- Gutters and drainages
- Chimney cap and crown
- Sprinkler lines
- Exterior vent holes
- Exhaust fans
- Fireplace damper
- HVAC vents
- Air intake of appliances like space heaters and humidifiers
- Range hood
One of the telltale signs of a blockage or hole are strange noises. Be on the lookout (or hear out) for rattling and bumping, which could indicate an obstruction or a leak somewhere.
If it’s on the ceiling, check for:
- Debris on the roof
- Twigs or branches along the gutter
- Bird or bat infestation in the attic
If it’s within the walls, it could be:
- Blocked ducts
- Loose or blocked pipes
- An AC or fan in need of cleaning or servicing
If you live in the Southwest:
- A rattlesnake (let’s hope not)
4. Whistling Noise
One of the biggest causes of heat loss in fall and winter are air leaks. A tiny gap left unpatched can cause as much as a 30% rise in heating costs.
A whistling noise can be an indication of a crack, gap or hole. Locations that are particularly vulnerable include:
- Doors and windows
- AC and exhaust frames
- Plumbing vents
- Furnace flue or chaseway
- Basement rim joists, where the house foundation intersects with the wood frame
5. Water Heating Issues
Just like your furnace, your water heaters are likely to get a workout when outside temps plummet. These problems may crop up after repeated or heavier usage:
Long warmup time
- Check the heater settings
- Check the thermostat
- Heater may be in need of replacement due to age
Water doesn’t get warm enough
- Heater may be undersized
- Crossed hot and cold water connections
Water doesn’t get warm at all
- Check the outlet
- Look for tripped breakers or blown fuses
- Heating element may need to be replaced
- Thermostat may be faulty
You can also refer to our helpful maintenance guide for tankless and storage water heaters.
For more preventive tips, check out our Home Maintenance Checklist for Autumn.