With summer beginning to wind down, many of us look forward to the colors and cooler weather of fall. It's a season that invites you to enjoy the warmth and comfort of your home, along with the responsibility of preparing your property for the upcoming months. Before you can fully embrace the joys of fall, it's essential to take care of some important home maintenance tasks. In this guide, we'll walk you through a checklist of common fall home maintenance tasks to ensure your home is ready for the upcoming season.
1. Clean and Inspect Gutters
One important task on your fall maintenance checklist should be cleaning and inspecting your gutters. Over the summer, leaves, debris, and even critters can find their way into your gutters, potentially causing clogs and damage. Clean out any debris and ensure that your gutters are securely attached to your home. Proper drainage is crucial to prevent water damage during fall and winter rains. If you have trees near the home, you could look to install leaf filters on the gutters, which will prevent large amounts of leaves from clogging the gutters and minimize this chore each year.
2. Check the Roof
Your roof is your home's first line of defense against the elements. Inspect it for loose or damaged shingles or flashing, and look for signs of wear and tear. If you notice any issues, consider hiring a professional roofer to make repairs. If a full roof replacement is needed, consider upgrading to a class IV impact-resistant roof if hail damage is a possibility in your area – doing so could reduce your homeowner’s insurance premiums and reduce the frequency of future roof repairs and replacements, albeit with higher upfront costs than regular shingles. A well-maintained roof will help keep your home warm and dry throughout the fall and winter.
3. Seal Cracks and Gaps
As temperatures drop, you'll want to keep the cold air out and the warm air in. Inspect your windows and doors for any cracks, gaps, or drafts. Seal them with weatherstripping or caulk to improve energy efficiency and reduce heating costs. Don't forget to check for gaps around pipes, vents, and electrical outlets as well. If you aren’t physically able or don’t have time to do this yourself, look for a handyman on Thumbtack or some other service to help tackle these small projects for a reasonable fee.
4. Service Your Heating System
Before you need to rely on your heating system daily, schedule a professional HVAC service. They can inspect your furnace or heat pump, clean filters, and ensure everything is in working order. Regular maintenance will not only keep your home warm but also extend the life of your heating system and help prevent safety issues like carbon monoxide leaks and fire risk.
5. Insulate Your Pipes
Frozen pipes can lead to costly and extensive damage. Insulate exposed pipes in your basement, attic, and crawl spaces to prevent freezing. You can use foam pipe insulation or heat tape to protect your plumbing. Don’t forget to disconnect your hoses and buy some low-cost covers for your home’s external faucets before cooler weather arrives.
6. Prepare Your Fireplace
If you have a fireplace or wood-burning stove, fall is the perfect time to prepare it for use. Clean the chimney, inspect the flue, and make sure the damper is functioning correctly. Stock up on firewood, and consider scheduling a professional chimney cleaning if needed. If you have a gas fireplace, you might have someone inspect it for leaks and ensure ventilation is adequate to reduce the risk of any carbon monoxide leaks.
7. Trim Trees and Bushes
Fall is an excellent time to trim any overgrown trees and bushes near your home. Trim branches that are close to your roof or power lines to prevent potential damage during winter storms and excess leaves from collecting in your gutters. Proper trimming also helps improve the overall appearance of your landscape and the health of your trees.
8. Test Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Detectors
Safety should always be a top priority. Test your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors to ensure they are functioning correctly. Replace batteries if necessary and consider upgrading to smart detectors for added security and convenience.
9. Clean Outdoor Furniture and Store It
As outdoor temperatures drop, it's time to clean and store your outdoor furniture properly. Clean cushions and covers and store them in a dry place to prevent damage from winter weather. If you have a grill, give it a thorough cleaning and cover it for the season. Even if you plan to grill during the fall and winter, a thorough cleaning will preserve the life of your grill and reduce the risk of rodents from being attracted to the smells from cooking during the summer.
10. Care for Your Lawn
Don't forget about your lawn in your fall home maintenance checklist. Fertilizing your lawn in the fall helps it recover from the summer heat and prepares it for healthy spring growth. Choose a fertilizer suitable for the season and your specific grass type, and be sure not to over-fertilize, as the extra nitrogen is wasted and runs off into the storm sewer, affecting water and air quality. Alternatively, consider skipping the synthetic fertilizer and just leave some of the fall leaves on your lawn or mulch them with a lawnmower – as long as they aren’t smothering the grass, they’ll break down on their own and fertilize the soil, while providing winter shelter for beneficial insects and microorganisms to bolster your property’s natural resilience. If you belong to an HOA, be sure to follow their guidelines on lawn maintenance and appearance. Finally, fall is the time to clean and drain the fluids from your lawnmower and other lawncare appliances once the mowing season ends.
Fall is a season of transition and preparation, inviting you to savor the warmth and comfort of your home while also tending to essential home maintenance tasks. By following this checklist, you'll be well-prepared to enjoy all that this season has to offer without worrying about costly repairs or unexpected issues. So, embrace the beauty of fall and get started on your home maintenance today!