Sure, you’ve heard of spring cleaning, but if you’re a homeowner, fall is a great season to do some maintenance before the rigors of winter set in. It could be something as simple as making sure your weatherstripping around doors and windows is in good shape, to help keep the warmth in and the cold out. Or it could involve dealing with a roof that’s reaching the end of its lifespan.
Taking care of such tasks can not only make your home more comfortable, it can help you maintain or even build your property’s value.
Here, a checklist of 25 fall home maintenance and home improvement projects that will help keep your house snug all winter and in top condition.
1. Door & Window Seals
It’s easy for cold air to slip in around doors and windows that don’t have sufficient weatherstripping. To keep your ongoing heating costs in check, it’s smart to take a look at all of your doors and windows to ensure the seals are tight. Fixing any issues could wind up saving you some serious money over time.
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2. Furnace Inspection
There’s not a lot worse than finding out on the coldest day of the year that your HVAC system needs repairs. Instead of waiting for a problem, it’s almost always a good idea to have your furnace inspected annually.
Recommended: The Ultimate House Maintenance Checklist
3. Air Ducts
This isn’t something you likely need to do every year, but it is smart to have your HVAC ducts cleaned regularly so the system is operating as efficiently as possible. Once every three to five years is a good cadence.
Whether you do it yourself or hire a pro, having your gutters cleaned after the leaves have fallen can ensure that your roofline remains leak-free during the winter months.
5. Exposed or Rotting Wood
Whether it’s on your deck, around your foundation, or under your gutters, wood that is no longer properly sealed can take a beating during winter months. You can save yourself serious headaches by repairing, replacing, or sealing any exposed wood.
6. Roof inspection & Repair
A leaking roof is no one’s idea of a good time and is among the most common home repairs. Having an older roof inspected can help to spot minor problems before they turn into major issues.
In colder climates, some roof repairs may need to wait months for warmer weather before they can take place. For that reason, the sooner you tackle this issue, the better. You might be able to squeeze in a repair before the weather gets too chilly. (Note: It’s worth checking if you have a roof warranty before shelling out for repairs.)
7. New Insulation
If you’re like a lot of people, you don’t check the insulation of your attic and eaves regularly, if ever. Having the proper depth of insulation can provide most homeowners with significant savings when it comes to heating and cooling costs.
8. Lawn Winterization
Your lawn will be greener earlier in the spring if you fertilize it in the fall.
Recommended: How to Winterize a House
9. All Those Leaves
While you don’t want leaves in your gutters or on your lawn, having them in your garden and flower beds can actually help protect plants against damage from cold weather by insulating them. A leaf bed also provides a home for insects that help feed migratory birds in spring; it can also spare landfills from tons of waste.
10. Critter Blockers
All those pipes and tubes coming into our homes from the exterior can mean there are little cracks and crevices. These in turn can allow insects and even vermin to enter in search of warmth. It can be smart to inspect and seal these crevices before the weather turns significantly colder.
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11. Storing Summer Clothes & Bedding
If you live in a cooler climate and you have the space, you may want to get organized and put summer clothes and bedding in storage over the winter. Enjoy the extra closet space!
12. Chimney Inspection/Cleaning
There’s nothing like sitting in front of a roaring fire on a cold winter day — unless, of course, dangerous creosote is building up in your chimney. You can likely nip any problems in the bud by having your fireplace inspected and cleaned annually.
13. Spring Bulb Planting
If you love tulips, daffodils, and other flowers that grow from bulbs, now’s the perfect time to set them in your garden. They often love a good freeze over the winter.
14. Perennial Care
Not only will mulch keep your beds looking neat and tidy during colder months, it can help insulate plants from the cold.
15. Outdoor Faucets
Now’s a great time to check your faucets to see if washers and all other parts are in good working order. And if you live in colder climates, it could be a good idea to install a frost-free yard hydrant to help protect your pipes against breakage during freezing weather.
16. Ceiling Fans
This is an easy one to forget. If you have ceiling fans, it’s smart to switch their direction for colder months. By reversing the direction of your fans, you can help to disperse warm air throughout your rooms.
17. Yard Tools
To keep your lawnmower, leaf blower, and any other gas-powered tools in good working order, clean them up before storing them for the season.
18. Trees & Shrubs
Pruning can be especially important for flowering trees and shrubs that only flower on new growth. It can also help to ensure that unhealthy branches are removed before heavy snow and ice coat them and possibly break them.
19. Carpet & Rug Cleaning
You’re likely going to be spending a lot more time indoors during the winter months, so why not freshen up your surroundings with a good carpet and rug cleaning? It could provide some welcome allergy relief.
20. Smoke & Carbon Monoxide Detectors
It can be smart to check your detectors and replace batteries whenever there’s a time change. So when you “fall back” and re-set the clocks, make sure these important devices are in good working order.
21. Patio Furniture & Grilling Equipment
Covering your outdoor furniture and grill can lengthen their lives and help prevent chipping and other damage.
22. Snow Removal
If you live where it snows regularly, it’s smart to go ahead and prepare now. Having your snowblower serviced, buying salt or snowmelt products, ensuring that your snow shovels are in good shape, and/or lining up a snow removal service are all things you can do now to avoid problems when the snow has begun to fall.
23. Older Doors & Windows
If you’re still living with single-pane windows, it may be time to upgrade and undertake the effort and cost of replacing windows. Here’s why: Double- or even triple-pane windows can pay for themselves in just a few years. They can be far superior in keeping out both the cold and heat (depending on the season), thus reducing your heating and cooling bills. The same is true for older doors that may not be well insulated or have single-pane glass in them.
24. Programmable Thermostat
It may seem like a little thing, but turning your heat down every night can wind up saving you money. Remembering to do it, however …that’s another story. Why not make it easy on yourself and install a programmable thermostat that remembers for you?
25. A Fresh Coat of Paint
If you’re going to be spending more time indoors, why not update its look to something you love? A fresh coat of paint can do wonders to spruce up almost any room. And how about the exterior? You might also look into the cost of painting a house; this is a project that can take homeowners a weekend to complete or can be bid out.
As the leaves change, it might be time for homeowners to consider some important home improvement projects before the cold weather really kicks in. A seasonal to-do list can ensure that your home is comfy, cozy, and safe for winter and beyond. For some of the bigger projects, like replacing windows or completing roof repairs, you may want to get your financing squared away too, perhaps with a personal loan.
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Photo credit: iStock/JavenLin
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