A little preventative home maintenance this fall makes a huge difference over winter. You can reduce energy costs, prevent expensive disasters and spot future repairs to take care of when warmer weather returns.

The days are getting shorter and the leaves are falling as Autumn approaches. Time to tackle your 2018 Fall Home Maintenance Checklist.

There are a few must-do home maintenance chores that will help keep your home from having some major emergency issues this winter. Here are my top tips to keep your home in shape:

  1. Inspect your siding. You’re looking for cracks or holes that might need repair, which can be hard to spot. Check for drafts (you can use a candle – watch for dancing flames) and then seal cracks around windows and doors.
  2. Survey your heating vents. Make sure they aren’t blocked or covered by furniture. If there’s a vent that is blocked you’ll end up spending more on energy to heat up your home because heat won’t circulate properly.
  3. Check the furnace. Have a licensed HVAC professional inspect your furnace to check for leaks, heating efficiency and change the filter. If there is a problem, better to find out now rather than when it goes out in the dead of winter and emergency charges apply.
  4. Clear your gutters and downspouts. Check that gutters and downspouts are clear of obstructions, so they’ll direct water away from the foundation, walkways and driveways. Clean the gutters of leaves, nests and debris so this winter’s snow can drain and ice can melt properly. If the gutters aren’t clear the weight from a heavy snowfall or ice storm could tear the gutters right off of your home.
  5. Inspect your roof for damage. On the inside, in the attic, you’re looking for evidence of leaks or anything coming loose. On the outside, look for damaged or missing roof tiles. If your area is susceptible to hail, your homeowners insurance policy may cover the damage you find. If you do have a roof leak in winter, often a full fix will need to wait for Spring, which means you’ll be paying for temporary patches.
  6. Drain your sprinkler system, turn off faucets and store hoses. If your sprinkler system is still active during winter it’s possible the line will freeze and a pipe could burst.
  7. Tend to your landscape. Make sure the ground slopes away from your house to help drain water away from the foundation. Apply fall fertilizer to prevent winter damage and spring weeds. (This is also the best time to plant bulbs for Spring!) And, depending on where you live, consider spraying the foundation to help contain pests.

Getting a jump on your fall preventative maintenance gives you an opportunity to spot issues that might need attention once the weather warms up again. If you don’t feel comfortable completing any of these tasks yourselves hire a licensed professional. It’s worth spending a little more for professional help if you’re worried that doing it yourself might create a bigger problem.