While summer may be the home improvement season, autumn is king when it comes to maintaining your home. Some of the easiest fall chores can save you big bucks on your energy bills and prevent major possible problems — if you follow this fall home maintenance checklist below.
1. Check your gutters, roof and chimney
• Clean your gutters: Dead leaves, the hallmark of autumn, can quickly accumulate and lead to blocked gutters. Those dead leaves and other muck can lead to backups that cause water damage or even contribute to an ice dam.. You can hire a professional for gutter cleaning, or get up on a ladder and clean the gutters yourself. Even if gutters aren't clogged at the start of fall, check again after the leaves have fallen.
• Inspect the roof: While you're looking up, perform a visual roof inspection. Make sure your shingles are in good condition, that none are missing and that they’re properly attached. Look for any dips or sags, which may indicate a problem with the wood underneath your roof shingles. If the roof is more than 20 years old, you may want to schedule an inspection with a roofing contractor. Annual or semi-annual maintenance is also recommended.
• Schedule a chimney sweep: Creosote buildup can lead to a chimney fire, so get your chimney and fireplace cleaned before you put it back into use this winter. You should have your chimney inspected at least once a year, and more often if you use it regularly.
2. Clear your deck and store outdoor furniture
• Put away patio furniture: Once temperatures dip, close your deck or patio for the season. It's best to keep outdoor furniture — especially cushions, umbrellas and other fabrics or metals — out of the elements, preferably in a closed garage or shed. This will help prevent rust and damage. It's a good idea also to clean your patio furniture before storing.
• Clean the deck: Fall is ideal to complete a deck safety inspection and repairs, since deck companies won't be as busy. Look for missing or rusted bolts, boards that need to be replaced and signs of rot, which may worsen over a long, wet winter.
3. Replace furnace filters
• Clean filters make your HVAC system run more efficiently, and cuts your energy costs.
4. Clean and insulate your plumbing
• Cleaning all water lines can help remove clogs that cause backups, which can freeze, then cause the pipes to weaken and burst. Wrap your pipes with insulation designed for plumbing. In many cases, this is all you need to protect your pipes.
• Drain your water heater: You can improve your water heater’s efficiency by draining sediment buildup from the water heater holding tank.
• Remove and drain outside hoses: Detach outdoor hoses, drain any standing water and store them inside. Be sure to drain your outdoor faucets and close the interior shut-off valves to the hose bibs or spigots to help prevent frozen pipes over the winter.
5. Inspect your garage door
• Fall is a good time to have your garage door inspected before the cold weather hits. A garage door inspection should include adjusting springs and cables; lubricating moving parts; tightening hardware, track and hinges; and inspecting the safety sensors and opener gears.
6. Complete a safety check, inside and out
• Review outdoor lighting: With dark days ahead, exterior lighting is crucial for home security and your safety. Not only can security lights help deter criminals, but path lights can spotlight any potential hazards before your family or guests stumble in the dark.
• Replace burnt out bulbs: Check all of your outdoor bulbs and fixtures, and consider using solar timers to turn outdoor lights on at dusk and off in the morning.
• Test your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors: Common advice is to test smoke and CO detectors when you set your clocks to "Fall Back" and "Spring Forward." We recommend doing it before your furnace kicks on for the first time this season. Carbon monoxide is an odorless gas that can be deadly at high levels, and while CO is dangerous any time of year, it's especially of concern in the winter when windows and doors are shut while gas furnaces and fireplaces are on.