Fall is just around the corner, and that means it’s almost time to break out the flannel, crank up the thermostat, and do some apple picking.
It also means the time is ripe to perform some basic home maintenance checks to make sure your home is prepared for winter.
This article covers the top six most important home maintenance checks you should do this fall, giving equal attention to indoor and outdoor cleaning tasks.
1. Check Your Windows and Doors
Many people don’t realize how much energy they waste due to having poorly sealed doors and windows.
The U.S department of energy claims that homeowners can save approximately 20% on heating during the winter if they keep their homes properly sealed with weather stripping and caulk.
If you haven’t checked your seals in a few years — or if you’ve never checked them — now is the time. Luckily, a quick inspection is all it takes to see if your windows and doors will protect you from winter’s biting winds.
The easiest way to check your door’s weather stripping is to close it and see if you can pass a thin piece of paper or a credit card through the seal. If you can’t, the seal is solid. But if you can, you should replace it.
You can use a similar process to check your windows, but it’s usually a little bit harder. Some people check for window leaks using a can of compressed air, but you should exercise caution with that method as it can damage the seal if the pressure is too high.
2. Clean Out Your Gutters
Another chore that should be high on your fall to-do list is cleaning the gutters. If you don’t have gutter guards and have trees on your property, your gutters are going to get clogged with leaves and debris throughout the year.
Clogged gutters can cause water to overflow and leak behind your exterior walls, causing water damage and requiring expensive repairs.
Clogged gutters can also get heavy as they accumulate water, putting a strain on your roof and potentially causing damage.
Luckily, cleaning your gutters doesn’t take too long. All you need is a ladder, some gloves, and a bag or bin to hold the gunk you remove. If you want to get fancy, you can get a hose attachment that makes it easy to spray all the debris down to one end, saving you several trips up the ladder and a significant amount of time.
3. Inspect Your Roof
Unfortunately, most homeowners don’t pay attention to their roof’s health until it’s too late. The best way to ensure your roof lasts as long as possible is to give it biannual inspections, once in the spring and once in the fall.
If you’re lucky, you won’t find any problems, but if you do notice something, at least you’ll be ahead of the game.
Look for structural damage, like peeling shingles, sagging, and cracks in and around the eaves. You should also look for discoloration, which can be a sign of water damage, mold, or mildew growth.
Thankfully, the best home warranties cover these issues, so you won’t have to pay out of pocket if you have one.
You probably shouldn’t go up on your roof yourself unless you have roofing experience and the proper safety equipment.
If you suspect you’ve found a problem, you should contact a roofing specialist and have a professional roofer come take a look.
4. Prepare Your Lawn
If you want your lawn to pop to life in the spring, you have to make sure it gets the care and attention it needs in the fall.
Cool season grasses — the types of grass that do well in cold and moderate climates — benefit from fall fertilization and overseeding.
If your cool season lawn has bare spots or thin patches, late September through late October is the time to bolster those areas with a generous application of grass seed.
You should also fertilize and aerate your lawn before it goes dormant for the winter to ensure the soil has the nutrients it needs and give it a chance to recuperate from the stress it endured during the hot summer months.
5. Detach Exterior Hoses
One of the easiest — and most devastating — things to forget during your fall maintenance routine is to detach any garden hoses you have from external spigots.
You should always remove garden hoses during the winter since they act as a large reservoir of cold air and can easily cause your home’s pipes to freeze. This is one fall maintenance task you don’t want to forget.
Go do it right now; we’ll wait.
6. Check Your Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Detectors
This one isn’t strictly a fall maintenance project, but you might as well lump it in with the rest while you’re at it. Most guidelines suggest checking your detectors once per month and replacing the batteries at least once per year.
House fires and carbon monoxide leaks are most common in the winter, so it makes sense to replace your detectors’ batteries in the fall to make sure they’re in working order when the winter rolls around.