The leaves are changing, and there’s a fresh crispness in the air. All the signs are here—cold weather is on its way. That makes this a crucial time for your house, time to make sure it’s ready for the chilly months ahead. So while we still have some sunny days ahead of us, this DIY fall home maintenance checklist will help you make sure your house is ready to keep you safe and warm when winter rolls around.
Fall Home Maintenance
Check the paint
Take a walk around your house and inspect the walls to see if the paint is cracked, peeling or blistering. Check the forecast for a string of warm, sunny days, and repaint as needed to keep your wood and siding protected.
Care for trees and shrubs
Winter can be hard on your landscape plants, so take some time to make sure they’re healthy and well-kept. Prune away dead wood from trees and shrubs, and trim back branches so that they don’t brush up against your house.
Seal the gaps
Air leaks around windows and doors allow drafts to enter, making it harder to heat your house efficiently (they can also let critters in). Use caulk and weather stripping to make sure the spaces around your windows and doors are airtight.
Mind your gutters
Clearing out your gutters and downspouts is one of the most important fall home maintenance tasks. Clogged gutters cause water to back up and freeze, which can lead to ice dams and thousands of dollars in damage to your roof. Take the time to make sure your gutters are free of leaves and debris, preferably in late autumn after most of the leaves have already fallen.
Avoid frozen pipes
Drain and winterize each of your home’s outdoor faucets and irrigation systems to avoid freezing. If you have non-insulated pipes in cold areas like the basement or garage, invest in pipe sleeves or insulation to protect them from winter’s chill.
Keep an eye on the roof
Roof repairs can be very expensive—the average homeowner spends $770, according to a recent study—so it’s important to find and fix problems before they become too serious. Damaged and curled shingles, leaky vents, and corroded flashing are all things you should check for this fall. If you don’t feel comfortable climbing up on your roof, hire a professional to do it for you.
Walk the walkways
Take a look at your driveway, walkway, sidewalk and front steps to see if they need repairs. Freezing temperatures can cause damage to these areas to get worse, and often lead to dangerous icy conditions.
Stock up on supplies
Stockpiling fall and winter tools is an important part of your fall home maintenance routine. Check your supplies and replenish anything that may be lacking, including lawn rakes, ice scrapers and snow shovels, as well as rock salt and emergency supplies.
Freshen your filter
Old, dirty furnace filters should ideally be replaced every three or four months, but fall is the most important time to put a fresh filter in your HVAC. The heating system in your home works harder as it gets colder outside, and a dirty filter can really drive up heating costs.
Schedule an HVAC check-up
Every HVAC deserves an annual physical, and fall is the best time to have a professional inspect your heating system and make sure it’s in tip-top shape.
Tend to your windows
The coming winter means it’s time to remove screens and Install storm windows and doors. Clean and repair the screens as needed, spray them with a protective coating, and place them in a dry area, like the basement or garage, for storage.
Tune up your fireplace
If there’s a fireplace or wood stove in your home, have it professionally cleaned to remove dangerous soot and creosote build-up.
Check smoke detectors
Winter is the most common time for house fires. Check each smoke detector and carbon monoxide detector in your house to ensure that they have fresh batteries and are working properly.
You may also find this article helpful: Fall is the Perfect Time to Clean and Seal Your Deck