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Your fall home maintenance checklist.

Updated

The fall is the perfect time to take on several home maintenance tasks that can help you avoid major and costly repairs in the winter. Not to mention, some home improvement projects that you pursue in the fall can make your home cozier and more enjoyable during the colder season. 

Here are some fall home maintenance tips and project ideas that will help you get your home ready just in time for winter.



Clean out your gutters.

pro cleaning gutter“Once most of the leaves have fallen, homeowners should have their gutters cleaned out,” says Brian Sacco, owner of TruBlue Total House Care of Charlotte

Neglecting your gutters could cause them to collapse from too much debris. It could also lead to water damage, roof damage, ice formations, pest problems and other issues.

Fall gutter maintenance checklist:

Get your heating and HVAC system serviced.

heater thermostat

The best time to get your HVAC system serviced is in the fall — before extreme cold weather hits, says Brian. If you wait until your heating system fails in the winter, you could end up dealing with a larger repair bill (and an even bigger headache).

Prevent future malfunctions by replacing the air filters in your home regularly. It’s also important to run your heating system before winter arrives. “I recommend at least one time at the end of summer or beginning of the fall to run your heating system for at least 30 minutes,” says Ricardo Garcia of Mechanical Repair Services in Dallas, Oregon. “When your heating system is not turned on until winter is in full effect, it may cause a cracked furnace.”

Ricardo says this can happen when moisture from your system is present and, over time, the moisture creates rust. When heat is introduced to a rusted furnace that’s full of moisture, it will likely cause cracks.

Fall HVAC maintenance checklist: 

  • Test out your heating system in the fall, before extreme cold temperatures strike.
  • Check your filters every other month and change them as necessary.
  • Hire an HVAC professional to inspect and service your system.
  • Schedule any necessary repairs.
  • Clean out your ventilation system for improved air quality.

For more advice, read our best HVAC maintenance tips.

Have a pro inspect your roof.

roof inspection

Your roof is one of your first lines of defense against the fall and winter weather. When it's severely damaged, your entire home could be at risk. 

From ensuring that your downspouts are pulling water away from the roof to inspecting your shingles and other roofing materials for damage, invest in your roof’s health by hiring a pro to inspect it thoroughly.

Fall roof maintenance checklist:

  • Look for noticeable shingle damage, such as cracking, missing shingles or hail-damaged materials.
  • Also check for noticeable signs of moss, mildew and algae.
  • Check all flashing and seals around the vents, skylights and other areas of the roof where items are protruding.
  • Hire a roofing professional for a thorough roof inspection, especially if you haven’t scheduled an annual visit yet.
  • Address all roof repairs the pro may recommend. For example, have a pro clear away any tree limbs or debris.
  • Consider upgrading your home’s roofing materials to create a more energy-efficient home.

Hire a pro to inspect and clean your chimney.

chimney sweep on roof

As the temperature drops, you might be tempted to start using your fireplace. But before you do, hire a chimney sweep to clean out any soot, debris and creosote to prevent chimney fires.

“Take the time to keep the ashes cleaned out, and make sure there are no obstructions around the exterior of the chimney or a buildup of leaves,” says Brian.

It’s also important to get your chimney inspected by a professional, and handle any repairs they suggest you need. It’s recommended you get an inspection at least once a year, according to the Chimney Safety Institute of America (CSIA) 

Check your indoor and outdoor plumbing.

running faucet

Keep an eye on your water pressure and temperature during the fall. If it's taking longer for the water to get hot enough for your showers or if the water pressure is too low, call a plumber. You might have a leak in your pipes, or there might be a problem with your water heater. Either way, hire a pro to fix these problems before winter.

When autumn weather strikes, the need for watering your garden and lawn might come to an end. That’s why it’s recommended that you utilize the fall season to inspect your outdoor faucets, too.

“We often recommend homeowners inspect all exterior faucets for leaks,” says Brian. During this inspection, have a pro add covers to the faucets so you can ensure they’re protected against freezing temperatures in the winter. 

You should also prepare for other indoor and outdoor plumbing issues (e.g., freezing pipes) that could arise. “Homeowners should also make sure they know where the main water shut off inside the house is located in case of any water heater or plumbing problems in the winter months,” says Brian.

Fall plumbing maintenance checklist:

  • Look for existing leaks and test your water pressure and temperature.
  • Hire a plumber if you suspect there's a leak in your pipes or if your water heater is malfunctioning.
  • Clear out outdoor hoses and put them away in storage.
  • Ask a pro if you should cover your outdoor faucets with insulation.
  • Make sure you have easy access to the main water shut-off valve inside or outside your home.

Insulate your attic and check for air leaks.

insulation

Another important task that should be on your fall home maintenance checklist is sealing off your attic, says Brian. Without a strong seal, you may experience drafts throughout your home, increasing the amount of energy needed to keep it cozy.

Ensuring that your attic access is properly sealed can help you cut down on heating costs in the winter. If drafts are present in your home, hire a pro to install a hatch.

You should also make sure your attic is properly insulated. If your attic is drafty and your energy bills are high, you might need to hire a pro who can insulate your attic (or replace your current insulation).

Get free estimates from top-rated handymen.

Seal window cracks and add weatherstripping.

exterior house window

Cold weather can put a strain on your heating system and lead to higher energy bills. But by preparing your house for the cold, you can avoid wasting precious warm air.

For example, “check for any areas in the house where heat can escape through cracked or open windows,” says Ricardo. Inspect all weatherstripping in your home, and hire a pro to seal your windows and doors if you notice any cracks.

Fix and upgrade your exterior lighting.

lights in backyard

The days become darker sooner during this time of the year, so make sure your exterior lights are shining bright to prevent any slips and falls in your yard, driveway and other outdoor areas. Fortunately, checking exterior lighting and replacing light bulbs isn’t as challenging during fall's more mild temperatures. 

If you decide to upgrade your outdoor lighting or create a festive atmosphere by installing string lights for the holidays, “avoid crossing walkways with cords,” says Brian. “If necessary, attach cords to the ground to avoid a tripping hazard.”

Better yet, hire an outdoor lighting installation pro to take care of this for you.

Clean your crawl space.

pro inspecting crawl space

Clear out any debris or leaves that are piling up in your crawl space. Your crawl space might also be susceptible to moisture, mold, cracks, pests and other issues. Consider hiring a pro who can help you maintain this area of your home. 

Crawl space vent checklist: 

  • Hire a crawl space cleaning pro to clear the area of any noticeable debris.
  • Continue to check up on your crawl space as the fall progresses.
  • Have a pro also check for any other issues that may involve moisture, mold, pests, insulation, plumbing, electrical wiring and cracks in your foundation.

Safety tip: Test smoke and carbon monoxide detectors.

Here's a key safety tip that should be on your fall home maintenance task list: replace the batteries in your smoke and carbon monoxide (CO) detectors, as needed, says both Brian and Ricardo. 

As we approach the holidays, you might decide to put up decorations (like a Christmas tree) and start using your furnace or fireplace — but it’s important to ensure your smoke detectors are working properly before you do.

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission recommends replacing your batteries for your smoke and CO alarms every year. The CPSC also says smoke alarms should be located on every level of the home, outside any sleeping spaces and inside every bedroom. And CO alarms should be installed on each level of the home, as well as outside of sleeping areas.

Tackle bigger fall home improvement projects.

remodeled living room

In addition to home maintenance tasks, you can also start planning larger home remodeling or improvement projects in the fall. Upgrades that can make your home more comfortable in the wintertime may also make your home cozier and brighter all year-long.

For example, some projects that can improve your home’s ambiance include refacing your fireplace. “It makes a big difference in the overall appearance, especially if it’s located in a very central place of the home,” says Sharon Katz of Smart Construction Consultants Inc. in Los Angeles, California.

She also recommends painting your home’s interior (for example, add a fresh coat to your living room or bedrooms) and installing better indoor lighting to brighten up your home when it’s gloomy outside.

Find a great handyman in your area.

 

The fall is the perfect time to clean up your property and prepare for the winter. Use these fall home maintenance tips to stay on top of your home care. And for tasks that require a professional’s help, use Thumbtack to find the best home maintenance pros near you.

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