The cooler days of fall are the perfect time to tackle these routine maintenance projects without breaking a sweat
As the days begin to shorten and both the leaves and the temperatures start to fall, it’s a good reminder to get started on your home’s fall maintenance checklist. Fall is the perfect time to tackle tasks like gutter cleaning, fixing and replacing windows, and even checking for signs of roof damage, thanks to the often milder weather conditions.
While every home is different, there are a few things every homeowner should be doing between the heat of summer and the chilly air of winter to ensure you don’t end up with any unexpected problems this year. This checklist highlights some of the most common spaces you should focus on.
Check Gutters and Roof
As with most things around the house, you should always start at the top. Begin your fall home maintenance checklist by getting on a ladder (only if you feel safe doing so; otherwise, hire it out! Ladder work can be dangerous, and sometimes these jobs are best left to a handyperson) and taking a look at what’s going on above your head. Failing to make sure your roof and gutters are in good shape to receive whatever Mother Nature dishes out over the winter could intentionally lead to some expensive problems down the line, which is why you should:
Look for loose or missing shingles and hire a roofing professional to replace them.
Check for signs of damage around the eaves and enlist a pro if needed.
Ensure your gutters are correctly attached and angled away from your roof and pitched down towards your downspouts.
Clean debris from your gutters.
Make sure all downspouts are connected and open.
Check Siding and Windows
While you have your ladder out, check the windows and siding around the upper floors of your home. You can lose a lot of money by paying to heat a home that is inefficiently insulated, so make sure seals are tip-top shape before temperatures drop by:
Checking for cracks in your window glass pane or the seals around the window and resealing them with a silicone latex-based caulk designed for cold temperatures.
Looking for broken or missing pieces of siding and patching or replacing them. Some siding, like vinyl, can be tricky to replace without removing other pieces, so if you find damaged siding, you might want to call in a pro to see what they can do to repair it.
Making sure that all caps are properly covering any exhaust vents without completely blocking them off (including both driers and furnaces) and clear out any debris like bird nests that may have formed over the summer.
Put Your Lawn and Landscape to Bed
The beginning of fall often means the end of mowing and other gardening activities, so you’ll want to winterize any outdoor equipment like lawnmowers and ensure that all of your garden beds have been pruned back and put to bed for winter by:
Trimming back any plants that need to be cut back over the winter. Perennials often make good cover for birds and squirrels during the long winter months, but some of your favorite flowers may not return as strongly without a good haircut before going dormant for the year. Bee balm, Iris, and certain varieties of clematis all benefit from being cut back before winter begins.
Weeding and seeding your lawn.
Clearing leaves from against your house.
Storing items you won’t use again until next summer, like patio furniture, outdoor toys, and pool equipment.
Winterizing your outdoor faucets and removing garden hoses for storage.
Emptying birdbaths and fountains and putting them away for the season.
Draining your sprinkler system.
Checking your trees for any branches that could blow down in a winter storm and removing them or calling a tree-trimming pro near you.
Schedule Routine Inspections and Deliveries
The last thing you want to do is discover that your heater is on the fritz the first night the temperatures dip. Same thing goes for the other items around your home that can keep chilly fall weather at bay, which is why you should:
Call your local HVAC professionals and have routine maintenance performed on your furnace.
Order your fuel for the winter (including firewood, pellets for a pellet stove, and oil for an oil-burning furnace).
Have your fireplace cleaned and your chimney inspected.
Replace your furnace filter.
Put Your Summer Cooling Supplies Away
If you’re someone who uses window air conditioning units or fills your home with freestanding fans, fall is the perfect time to pack them up to prevent window drafts and reclaim valuable floor space. Since it’s not uncommon for the temperature to spike a few times before summer heat moves out for good, you may want to save this task until it looks like the crisp fall air is here to stay in your neck of the woods. You should:
Clean and pack away your free-standing fans.
Change your overhead fans so that they spin in a clockwise direction, which will allow the fan to draw cool air up and send warm air down.
Clean your window AC unit, filter, and surrounding grill before packing it away in a dry place for winter.
Switch out screens for storm windows.
Check Your Foundation
You already looked high; now it’s time to look low. Walk around the perimeter of your home and check for any cracks in your foundation or gaps in your siding. Certain pests, such as mice, like to overwinter indoors, and they only need the smallest of openings to make your home their own. You should:
Seal any gaps and cracks in your foundation to prevent water from getting in.
If you find larger gaps in your foundation or siding that might allow pests like mice and birds to overwinter in your home, find a local pest control expert to come out and help block entry points.
Look for spaces where water can pool around your foundation. If you find any, determine if it’s caused by landscaping errors that can be corrected by filling in areas where the soil has eroded (these can normally be fixed quickly by adding soil back into the low lying areas) or if you have an issue with your gutter system not correctly rerouting runoff. If your gutters are to blame, a local gutter installer should be able to help you direct rainwater away from your foundation.
Seal any gaps around your basement windows with a silicone latex-based caulk that is designed to stand up to the cold rainy months.
Get Your Winter Gear Ready
Just because the heat of summer has subsided, it doesn’t mean that you’re done breaking a sweat outdoors. If you live in an area that sees heavy snowfall, you’ll still need to plan for winter yard work like shoveling, so you’ll want to:
Move your snow shovel and other snow removal tools to the front of your shed
Ensure you have enough deicer and salt to get you through the season
Place any snow removal tools you may have stored over the summer back into your car
Change Batteries in Your Detection Devices
It’s not uncommon for people to time the changing of the clocks—hello, extra hour of sleep—with the changing of the batteries in their early warning devices like smoke detectors. The end of Daylight Saving Time is the perfect time to:
Change the batteries in your smoke detectors.
Test and change the batteries in other detection devices you may have around your home, like carbon monoxide detectors.