Fall brings more than just changing leaves and shorter days. In many areas, it also comes with a shift in weather conditions that can have a serious impact on your home. And, don’t forget, winter is right around the corner, too.
Before the rain and cold take over, it’s time to do some routine maintenance to get things in shape for the months ahead. Besides, preventative maintenance can help you save money and keep you and your family healthy. That’s well worth your time.
Here are some tips to help you get started:
Fall Maintenance Outside Your House
Check your roof: Remove moss from sloped areas and clear any debris from gutters and downspouts. Additionally, look for signs of damage/wear and make repairs as soon as possible. Use binoculars if you need to. Fall is no time for a leaky roof!
Look out for critters: Rodents and other animals might be looking for warm places to hide out, and they can cause big problems if one of those places happens to be in your home or garage. Watch for termites, roaches and other insects as well, and call a professional if you need assistance. (And, be sure to check the basement and crawlspace, too!)
Get hoses ready for the cold: When the weather starts to turn, drain water from outdoor hoses, faucets and irrigation systems. Place covers on faucets as necessary.
Inspect your vents and ducts: Attic vents, dryer vents and exhaust ducts should be clear (check inside and out).
Watch those windows: Clean window wells and check drainage.
Walk around: If you have cracks in your driveway or other walkways, address them now — freezing weather will only make them worse.
Fall Maintenance Inside Your House
Keep things dry in the crawlspace, basement and attic: If you have a sump pump, make sure it is in good working condition, and check for wet spots or puddles in the crawlspace.
Look for leaks: Give your water heater (have you drained it lately?) and boiler a quick exam, and don’t forget your water main/meter or well pump.
Do some fall cleaning: Clean and tune your furnace, boiler and/or water heater, along with your oven and range.
Seal things up: If you feel any drafts around windows or doors, now is the time to address them. And, check your attic insulation, too.
Check your smoke and carbon-monoxide detectors: Even ones that are powered through your home’s electrical system typically have a backup battery that might need replacing.
Get ready for fireplace season: Make sure there’s no soot or creosote accumulation, and consider having a chimney sweep do an inspection.
Speaking of fires... do you have fire extinguishers in your home? You should (one per floor, at least). The pressure indicator should show a charge, and the lock pin should be intact.
One final tip: Since these lists largely are about keeping your family safe and comfortable, this also is a fine time to revisit (or create) your family emergency escape plan and emergency kit. Make sure everyone knows how to get out of their room, and where to meet once they’re out of the house. Your home is replaceable, of course — your family isn’t.