Pumpkin-spice lattes, leaves changing color, sweater weather — fall in all its glory is just around the corner, and there’s so much to look forward to. But don’t hang up a plaid wreath or get to planning your Halloween costume until you tackle some important maintenance tasks around the house before those cooler nights kick in. To keep it easy and breezy, simply run down the 10 items in this fall-prep checklist, and you’ll be roasting marshmallows around the firepit in no time!
1. Check the roof.
Along with a charming bite to the air, fall weather can bring serious rain and wind. Now is the time to perform a visual inspection of the roof, looking for any missing, damaged or loose shingles. You can do this from ground level with the help of a pair of binoculars, but climbing up a ladder is even better, if possible. Just make sure you take the proper safety precautions! If you have a flat roof, remove any clumps of leaves or debris that might have piled up over the summer. This is also a great time to assess nearby trees and get any limbs trimmed that are damaged or too close, which might end up scraping the roof or power lines.
2. Clean the gutters.
While you’re looking at the roof, go ahead and give your gutters some love, too. Rain gutters can get clogged with leaves and debris over time, so keeping them clean will ensure they work properly, which helps prevent costly repairs to your roof, walls or foundation down the line. It’s best to clean gutters when they’re dry, either by using a leaf blower or removing large debris by hand while wearing gloves, and then flush them out with a hose. Hiring a professional is also always an option — especially if your gutters need to be repaired or replaced.
3. Inspect screens and windows.
We all look forward to opening the windows and letting in some fresh air on cool fall days, but check your screens first. If they’re warped or dented in any spots, they may allow bugs to get inside. Also examine the seals around your windows (when closed) to ensure the weather stripping is intact and not letting any drafts through — you don’t want valuable heat finding an escape route. To test for draft issues, close windows on a sheet of paper. If the paper moves easily, it’s time to shore up the weather stripping. Clean the window glass as well to harness the most light possible during those shorter, colder days.
4. Address cracks in the insulation.
Take a look inside the roof via your attic or crawl space, checking for any rays of light coming in. If light can get through, that means warm air can escape through cracks in your insulation, so get them filled or have the insulation replaced. Do the same for your HVAC ducts by having a friend or partner inside the house shine a flashlight into the vents. If you see light coming through any cracks or gaps in the ductwork, get those sealed to keep your system running efficiently.
5. Change air filters.
Clogged filters cost you money by making your system work harder to keep your home at the desired temperature. It’s recommended to change air filters at least every three months — and up to once a month, depending on your climate — so the beginning of fall is the perfect time to start fresh.
6. Perform safety and battery checks.
Test your smoke alarms, carbon monoxide detectors, flashlights and other emergency equipment, and refresh with new batteries. This is also a good time to review your escape plan in the event of a fire, and create an emergency kit — or replenish its supplies — so you’re prepared for any power outages or potential issues during winter storms.
7. Organize the garage or shed.
Leaves will soon be a-falling, so it’s time to rummage through the garage or shed and round up the season’s essential equipment — leaf blower, broom, rake, shovel, etc. — so that it’s up front and accessible. While it may not be time to put the outdoor furniture to bed just yet, get it cleaned up and ready for storage, with its spot cleared and waiting.
8. Fertilize the lawn.
When it comes to your lawn game, the slow-growing fall season is no time to slack on defense. The roots of your lawn are still active — even when the grass appears dormant. Help your lawn look its best and turn green faster in the spring by applying a round of fertilizer now to keep it healthy and prevent winter damage. Also, take this opportunity to trim bushes, shrubs and flowers as recommended for your climate zone.
9. Start composting and planting for spring.
If you aren’t already, skip the leaf bagging this year. Now is the time to harness those piles of autumn leaves and transform them into gardening gold with some compost bins. Planting bulbs in October (or as soon as the soil has cooled down) will also help you reap major gardening rewards come spring. Just make sure to pick a spot that gets full sun during the day. Once you’re finished, get those gardening tools cleaned and stored.
10. Reprogram the thermostat.
There’s one final step: Flip the temperature settings on the thermostat so that the house is warmer in the mornings and evenings, when you’ll be home and more active, and cooler during the day, when you’re away at work. Even if you have a fancy smart thermostat, you’ll probably still need to switch it to the winter schedule. The recommended eco-friendly heat temperature setting is 65 degrees F.
The information in this article is intended to provide guidance on the proper maintenance and care of systems and appliances in the home. Not all of the topics mentioned are covered by our home warranty or maintenance plans. Please review your home warranty contract carefully to understand your coverage.