Whether you are getting ready to put your house on the market, or just need some advice to keep your home in tip-top shape, autumn is the perfect time to prepare for the cold months ahead. A well-cared for home not only looks good, it also can attract more buyers. Following these easy, inexpensive maintenance tips before winter arrives can really pay off big!
- Clean Roof & Gutters
Before stormy weather arrives, check your roof for potential problems; shingles that are buckled, cracked, or missing; moss; and rust spots on flashing. Any loose, damaged, or missing shingles should be replaced immediately. Moss should be removed as it retains moisture and can promote rot. While you’re up there, check that the gutters are unclogged and draining properly. Make sure they aren’t sagging and trapping water; tighten gutter hangers and downspout brackets; and replace any worn or damaged gutters and downspouts.
- Check the Furnace
Having your air conditioner and furnace cleaned once a year will help you stay healthier, expand the life of units, and keep energy costs down. A professional cleaning is inexpensive and takes a very small amount of time. Also make sure to clean or change the furnace filters regularly.
- Schedule a Chimney Inspection
Nothing says autumn is here like cozy nights around the fireplace. Now is the ideal time to check your fireplace and schedule a cleaning to prevent chimney fires. Be aware of any cracking in the firebox bricks and have them checked before use.
- Change Batteries
Don’t forget to change the batteries in your smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors. While you’re at it, check the sensors and remove dust so they can function properly.
- Seal Cracks & Gaps
To discover hidden drafts around the house, light a stick of incense or a candle, then hold it next to windows, electrical outlets and door frames. If the smoke or flame flutters, you’ve got a gap. Seal it with caulk or weather-stripping. Then grab a tube of color-matched exterior caulk and make a journey around your home’s exterior, sealing up cracks between trim and siding, around window and door frames, and where pipes and wires enter your house. Once everything is sealed up tight, you’ll save the heating system extra work, and that saves money too.
- Remove Leaves
Leaving a thick layer of fallen leaves on top of your lawn prevents sunlight from reaching the turf and provides a cozy home for mold, bacteria, pests, and weed seeds. If your city doesn’t offer a composting program, go green and consider composting leaves yourself. Another option is to use your lawn mower’s mulching blade to chop leaves into tiny bits so they can break down over the winter and return nutrients to the soil.
- Prune Trees & Shrubs
Late autumn is the best time to prune shrubs and trees, when the summer growth cycle is over. Your goal is to keep limbs and branches at least three feet from your house so moisture won’t drip onto roofing and siding, and to prevent damage during high winds.
- Organize the Garage
Autumn is the perfect time to clean out the garage (basement, shed, etc.) and get everything organized. Make sure you have all the tools you’ll need stored for easy access. For fall: leaf blower, broom, rake, and gardening tools. For winter: ice scraper, ice salts or sand, snow shovel, and snow blower.