Your Fall Home Maintenance Checklist

Autumn is a great time to peruse your property, and assess things that might need preventive maintenance before the weather turns cold. Although a whole-house check can feel overwhelming, it’s essential so that you can avoid major repairs later.

Wondering where to start? Here’s a guide to fall chores you can’t afford to ignore.

Outdoor Jobs

Remove Dead Leaves

Fallen leaves can kill grass when they’re matted down by snow. Leaf piles can also attract rodents. But using leaf bags means work, and waste if they go into a landfill.
 Make use of your lawn mower’s mulching mode. Ground-up leaves nourish the soil, which saves you money down the line. You might need to make a few passes to slice the leaves small enough to decay. Along with saving the cost of leaf bags, you sidestep the back-breaking stooping and bending of raking and bagging.

Check the Roof

Leaks can eventually damage the wood sheathing and rafters below your shingles, leading to thousands of dollars in repairs. Use binoculars to spot cracked, curled, or missing shingles safely from the ground. Consider having a roofing pro check flashing around chimneys, skylights, and roof valleys for leaks, and the rubber boots near vents for cracks that can let moisture seep in.

Clear Gutters

Gutters stuffed with leaves, pine needles, and other debris can let water spill over the side, pool around your home’s foundation, and seep inside. Water that freezes in gutters can force snow and ice into roof shingles, causing damage and leaks. Consider a gutter-guard system to keep debris out. Make sure that gutter drains extend 5 feet from the house and that soil slopes away from the foundation 1 inch per foot for 6 feet or more.

Close Your Hose

Pipes can burst when water inside expands as it freezes, creating an expensive mess in your home. Shut off inside valves that control water flow to hose spigots. Then briefly open the spigots to drain any leftover water in pipes and hoses. Also drain water from supply lines for water sprinklers and pools, and shut off inside valves that control them. And help prevent freezing by insulating pipes in unheated areas.

Indoor Jobs

Get Your Heating System Serviced and Update the Thermostat

Photo courtesy of Honeywell

This might be the MOST important thing you do to prepare for winter!  Having your HVAC system serviced now will ensure that your heating system is functioning properly when you need it most. The last thing you want is for winter to come and your system decides to die. A simple inspection can save you money by making sure your system is working efficiently which helps keep your utility bills low. The other thing you can do is replace your thermostat.  This is something simple you can do yourself to help control the temperature in your home throughout the winter. Simply lowering temperatures by 10° F to 15° F while you’re at work or asleep can trim 15 percent from your heating bill.

Minimize Drafts

You want to check your home for any drafts around your windows and doors. You can purchase kits to seal your windows for around $25-40 per window. This can get really expensive, but it’s more affordable than replacing your windows. If you do have the money to replace drafty windows, now’s a good time to do so. You can also purchase new seals for your doors to help minimize drafts. 

Clean Your Chimney

Photo courtesy of Getty Images

A wood-burning fireplace may be cozy, but creosote buildup can impede the flow of smoke and cause chimney fires and carbon monoxide poisoning. Even unused chimneys can develop cracks that weaken the structure. If your chimney hasn’t had a recent inspection, now’s the time.

Article courtesy of Consumer Reports and Unexpected Elegance