Fall Home Maintenance Checklist

Fall is more than colorful leaves and pumpkin-spice lattes. It’s also the perfect time to prep your home before winter sets in. Follow this fall home maintenance checklist to keep your home in tip-top shape.

Some of these tasks are potentially dangerous, so please consider hiring a service professional.

Clean Gutters
Inspect Your Roof
Prepare Home for Freezing Weather
Service Your Heating System
Drain Outdoor Watering Pipes
Check Your Detectors
Winterize Outdoor Tools and Furniture
Shut Down Your Pool

Clean Gutters

It’s easy to neglect your gutters. Because they’re positioned so high up on your home, they’re often out of sight and out of mind. That’s why it’s important to schedule a fall cleaning with a professional each year.

A fall cleaning will remove all of those crisp, dry leaves before winter comes along and makes them soggy and smelly. As a result, water will flow properly through your gutters and away from your home.

Here are some ways that clogged gutters can wreak havoc on your home:

Foundation Damage
When gutters become clogged with leaves and debris, water can build up, overflow and harm the foundation of your home.
Roof Damage
A clogged gutter can add excess weight to your roof, which may lead to premature damage. In the winter, it can also contribute to an ice dam.
Mold Growth
Excessive buildup in your gutters can lead to mold growth. Mold spores can be harmful to anyone living in your home.
Unwanted Pests
A bed of leaves inside a gutter is an ideal home for mice, insects and spiders. These pests could then make their way inside your home.
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Inspect Your Roof

The winter months are supposed to be spent inside your home, in front of the fireplace with your family. They’re not supposed to be spent stopping leaks or wondering why your heating bills are so high.

That’s why the fall is a great time to schedule a roof inspection with a licensed roofing contractor. They’ll check your roof for any damage done by summer thunderstorms, falling tree limbs and other hazards.

Types of Roof Damage
  • Missing, torn or deteriorating shingles
  • Missing caulking around roof vents and pipes
  • Damaged or rusted flashing
  • Wood damage or dry rot
  • Chimney issues like cracks or missing caps
  • Rusted, damaged or loose gutters

Some roofing inspectors will also check out your attic to see if there are any leaks. Water in your attic can lead to mold and also damage your insulation.

Prepare Your Home for Freezing Weather

Keeping the outside air out and the inside air in is crucial during the winter months. The last thing you want is to make your heating system work harder than it needs to.

Check Doors and Windows

This fall, walk around your home and seal up any gaps around your windows and doors with caulk or weather-stripping. If any pipes or ducts travel through an exterior wall, be sure to seal those entry points too. Don’t forget to install your storm windows and doors if you have them.

Improve Insulation

If you haven’t thought about your home’s insulation for a while, you’re not alone. It’s something that many people overlook. But it’s an important part of keeping drafts—and your energy costs—to a minimum.

Think about how the rooms in your home are insulated. You may know from previous years that some exterior-facing walls are colder than others. See if you can add insulation to those walls.

You should also check your basement and attic for exposed pipes. If you find one, wrap it in insulation right away. Polyethylene foam pipe insulation is affordable and considered the most efficient. It also comes with pre-cut slits, so you can easily slide it on.

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Service Your Heating System

That chill in the air means it’s time to schedule a maintenance tune-up for your heating system. Sediment buildup can cause your furnace to work less efficiently, or worse, become a fire-hazard. Having it professionally cleaned and inspected will keep your family safe and reduce energy costs.

If an inspector determines that your furnace is due to be replaced, buy an energy-efficient model. It will save you money and energy each month. In addition, you may want to purchase a programmable thermostat, if you don’t already have one.

Drain Outdoor Watering Pipes

Cold temperatures can severely damage your home’s outdoor water lines. The good news is that you can take action in the fall to prevent your spigots from freezing and bursting. Before the weather turns, take the time to follow these steps.

Shut Off Water Supply
Find the valve that controls the water leading to the outdoor faucet or spigot. It’s probably located in your basement or crawlspace. Turn the water off.
Disconnect Any Hoses
If a garden hose is connected to the spigot, disconnect it. Drain all the water from the hose, then store it out of the weather for winter.
Drain the Faucet
Turn the outdoor spigot on to drain any water from the line. When the water stops trickling, turn it off again. This will prevent the pipe from freezing.
Use the Air Bleed Cap
Go back inside to the water valve and remove the air bleed cap. Let the water drain. When it stops draining, put the bleed cap back on.

If you like, you can also protect your outdoor spigots with insulated covers. You can purchase them at any hardware store.

Check Your Detectors

Smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors are required by law in all new and existing residential dwellings.

Smoke Detectors

According to the American Red Cross, home fires claim seven lives every day, but having a working smoke alarm can cut the risk of death by half. That’s why it’s critical that you test your smoke detectors each fall.

Ideally, you should install a smoke alarm on every level of your home and outside each sleeping area. Most home insurance companies offer special discounts if you install smoke detectors.

Carbon Monoxide Detectors

Similar to a smoke detector, a carbon monoxide detector can be a vital, life-saving tool. These detectors will warn you if an odorless, deadly gas has built up in your home, giving you and your family time to escape.

Testing Tips

  • Change batteries at least once a year unless you have “long-life” (10-year) batteries.
  • Any detector more than ten years old should be replaced entirely.
  • Test detectors twice a year by pushing the test button on top.
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Winterize Outdoor Tools and Furniture

Harsh winter weather can wreak havoc on outdoor equipment and furniture, leading to costly repairs. Fortunately, keeping these items in good working condition is easy. All you need to do is follow these common-sense guidelines:

  • Snow Blower – Have your snow blower serviced before the snow starts piling up. A simple maintenance tune-up will keep it lubricated and working efficiently. While you’re at it, purchase some fuel and store it safely away from your home.
  • Lawnmower – You won’t be cutting your grass for a while, so go ahead and stow your lawnmower in a shed or garage. Try cleaning it beforehand too.
  • Gas Grill – Disconnect the propane tank from the grill. If possible, store the grill in a shed or garage. It’s okay to keep your propane tanks outdoors, but choose an area that’s sheltered from the wind and rain. Exposure to water will cause the fittings to corrode.
  • Patio Furniture – Store outdoor furniture in a garage, shed or similar shelter. Wherever it is, make sure the area is dry, as wet cushions can accumulate mold or mildew over time. If you don’t have the space, purchase a waterproof furniture cover.

Shut Down Your Pool

Closing a swimming pool each fall is essential to maintaining its overall health and longevity. It’s a relatively straightforward DIY project that should only take a few hours. Here are some frequently asked questions that will help you close your pool correctly.

It’s recommended that you wait until the temperature is regularly below 65 degrees. Waiting until it’s a bit cooler like this will prevent algae from growing in the closed pool.

Absolutely! Remove debris from the surface of the water with a handheld pool skimmer, scrub the pool walls with a brush, then clean out the pool skimmer baskets. This will make balancing the water with chemicals much easier in the spring.

Your water should only be drained so it sits just below the skimmer and jets. The reason you don’t want to completely drain your pool during winter is because snow, ice and extreme cold can significantly damage your liner.
A pool cover during the winter is a great idea. Even though they won’t hold the weight of children or pets, they still reduce the risk of drowning if someone accidentally falls in. A pool cover also prevents debris from falling into the water, which will reduce your cleanup time in the spring.

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