Waking up to chilly mornings and pumpkin spice EVERYTHING reminds us that it’s time to tackle our fall home maintenance list. A regular schedule of maintenance throughout the year is critical to keeping your home healthy and family safe. These baseline preventative steps are a good start.

Gutters, Downspouts, and Low-Slope Roof Maintenance:

Inspect these items and carefully remove any accumulated debris. This check should be completed four times per year to ensure effective draining and avoid damage caused by trapped and accumulated water.

Surface and Underground Drains:

It is essential to check, and clear surface and underground drains at least four times per year to ensure proper water flow. Underground drains may be located at downspouts, under a driveway, or in other areas where you need to redirect water. Surface drains may be at exterior basement stairs, patios, pool decks, etc. Clogged drains can cause water to back up in other areas and cause significant damage. It’s also essential to monitor these during heavy rains, clearing debris as needed.  

Hose Bibs & Irrigation Systems:

To avoid bursting pipes, turn off exterior hose faucets and irrigation systems before freezing weather sets in, typically late October-early November in the Greater DC area. All hose bibs, including “Frost Free,” should be fully drained, and irrigation systems should be blown out to avoid freezing during the winter months.

Heating Ventilation and Air Conditioning (HVAC):

You should have your HVAC systems serviced twice per year, spring and fall, to ensure they are operating at their most efficient levels. The system inspection should include:

Changing the filter.

Adjusting dampers to favor northern (not southern) rooms.

Clearing leaves and debris from outside units.

Checking AC refrigerant.

Cleaning the AC condenser.

Note that some systems require filter changes more or less frequently, so be sure to consult your manual.


Many homes have a humidifier to help raise the humidity during the dry winter months and improve the home’s health and indoor air quality. This system requires an annual system check, and the fall is the best time. During their visit, your HVAC service company should perform a thorough inspection and replace the pad/cartridge, which can collect deposits from the water source, clog and cause leaks.

Other Important Items to Address this Fall:

• Change the batteries in your smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors.

• Latch windows shut to square them up, seal the weatherstrip and stop drafts.

• Inspect all bathroom caulking and touch up as necessary. Repeat in the spring.

• Drain 10-15 gallons from the bottom of your water heater once per year to remove sediment.

• Fireplaces and chimneys should be inspected inside and out at least once per year for soundness, deposits, and clearance. Have the chimney cleaned or repaired as needed.

• Clean screens in showerheads and faucets annually to ensure optimal water flow.

• For your appliances, consult your manufacturer’s maintenance recommendations, which should include steps such as cleaning screens on range hood vents, vacuuming refrigerator coils, replacing water filers, and more.  

• Your septic system should be inspected and the tank cleaned out once per two-three years.

With this list in hand, you’re ready to get to work or schedule service professionals for assistance. If I can help to answer any questions, you may have, please let me know.

Tim Burch is a Vice President and Owner of BOWA, an award-winning design and construction firm specializing in renovations ranging from owners’ suites and kitchens to whole-house remodels and equestrian facilities. For more information, visit bowa.com or call 540-687-6771.  

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Tim Burch is Vice President of BOWA, an award-winning design build firm specializing in luxury renovations ranging from master suites and kitchens to whole-house remodels. A Northern Virginia native, Tim focuses on clients in the Loudoun and Fauquier County areas providing them with his 25 years of expertise in the design build construction industry. He is a third generation builder, certified remodeler, and instructor. Prior to joining BOWA, he was the Lead Project Manager of Construction for the Emmy Award winning construction reality television show, Extreme Makeover Home Edition on ABC Television. For more information on Tim and the BOWA team, visit www.bowa.com, or call 703-734-9050. Have a question for Tim that you’d like to see covered in Middleburg Eccentric? Email him at AskBOWA@bowa.com.