Fall Home Maintenance Checklist
How do you prepare your house for fall weather?
Autumn is the perfect time to give your home a little TLC as colder weather sets in. Tackling a few fall home maintenance tasks now can help steer you clear of issues later in the season. Take advantage of the moderate fall weather before wanting to spend your winter indoors. This home maintenance checklist will help you prepare inside and outside.
Clear gutters and downspouts
Gutters and downspouts accumulate leaves and debris through the summer and fall, which can lead to blocked gutters, pest problems and wood rot. Clogged gutters are also more prone to rust and corrosion. Carefully clear them out, or hire a professional, and make sure water drains properly. It can also be helpful to cover them with mesh gutter guards to keep debris from returning. Water from downspouts should flow away from the house so it doesn’t pool around the foundation and cause damage.
Cleaning gutters can take some time each year. It may take a couple of hours depending on the size of your home. Considering the time it takes, combined with the tools needed to complete this task, may lead you to hire a professional. Clogged gutters can be the start of a larger problem if left unaddressed. Freezing temperatures can cause ice to build up and lead to ice dams, which can produce severe water damage to your home. That’s why cleaning your gutters should be near the top of your fall cleaning checklist.
Check windows and doors
Swap out summer screens for storm screens on your windows and doors to help keep your home better insulated. If you have window AC units, remove them before the temperature drops. If you have to leave them in, use an insulating wrap to cover the exterior of the unit.
Take this opportunity to inspect and repair loose windows or damaged doorframes. A loose window or door may only be as good as if you were to wear an unzipped jacket in the winter. Check for any missing or damaged caulk around windows, doors and entryways for electrical, cable, phone and gas lines. Reseal any gaps with new caulk. Consider installing weather stripping around windows and door sweeps to keep drafts at bay and cut energy costs. If you still experience drafts, consider getting your windows replaced. Glass with multiple panes can help solve these problems.
Shut off outdoor faucets
As most parts of the country can experience freezing temperatures in the winter, it’s important to take the time to turn off water to exterior faucets to keep your pipes from freezing when the temperature drops. Drain the faucets after shutting off the water. This is also a good time to drain your hoses and store them for the winter. If you have an in-ground irrigation system, be sure to follow the manufacturer’s procedure for draining it and protecting it from winter damage.
Check walkways, railings and stairs
Damaged pathways, steps and driveways can be a hazard at any time of the year, but inclement weather can increase the risk. Identify outdoor areas that may become a slip or fall hazard if they’re covered in ice or snow, such as loose handrails or a broken step. Tackle repairs now before inclement weather makes it more difficult to address these updates.
Get your outdoor lighting in order, too. Replace burnt-out bulbs on the front and back porch, garage and along the walkway so you and your visitors can safely walk in the dark.
Prep outdoor areas
Get your yard ready for the cooler weather. Be sure to:
- Put summer outdoor furniture in storage.
- Hire a professional to trim tree limbs close to power lines, as snow and ice can weigh branches down and damage the lines – and leave you without power.
- Fertilize or reseed the lawn because roots grow deeper in the fall.1
- Rake leaves off your lawns and garden beds to give them the air they need.
- After the leaves change color, prune trees and shrubs to promote growth.1
- Place markers along your driveway, walkways and garden beds. This can help make plowing and snow removal much easier.
Perform a heating system check
Prep your furnace for the winter to come by replacing the filter. Clean your ducts to boost heating efficiency and reduce dust. Remember to vacuum radiators, baseboard heaters and grates to clear away dust. You may want to hire an HVAC professional to perform a maintenance check. To avoid the last-minute rush of the first wave of cold weather, consider scheduling this task in the early fall before the heating season beings.
Test safety detectors
The changing seasons can be a helpful reminder to conduct various safety tests around your home. Take a moment to test your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors. An easy reminder: Replace batteries in your detectors when you change your clocks as daylight saving time ends.
Sweep the chimney
Maintaining your chimney is essential for maximizing safety and comfort during the winter. Over time, burning logs in your fireplace causes creosote, a highly flammable substance, to build up along your chimney flue. Even if you only use your fireplace occasionally, you should check it seasonally for damage or hazards. Hire a professional to inspect the flue for a tight seal and to clean the chimney. You could even knock out two home maintenance tasks in one – schedule your furnace flue inspection at the same time as your chimney inspection. That way, you’ll be ready when cold weather hits. For more information on chimney inspections and why you need to have one every year, visit the Chimney Institute of America website.
Inspect the attic
When moving around in your attic, be extra careful. Watch your head and footing for beams and objects in your path. Performing an attic inspection can help prepare your home for fall by making sure there’s proper ventilation and insulation, and making sure there isn’t any mold or moisture that could become a bigger issue. When you’re in the attic, check vents to:
- Make sure they aren’t blocked by insulation to prevent ice dams on the roof.
- Clear away dirt and debris from ridge vents and vents at eaves.
- Ensure bird and rodent screens are in place to prevent pests from entering.
Should you spot a problem that needs further attention during your inspection, it’s likely time to call in a professional. An attic inspection done by a professional will include more detailed observations on airflow, measuring insulation and looking for proper ventilation. Whether you’re hiring a professional or doing it yourself, a thorough inspection of the attic should take about one hour.2
Stock up on essential winter supplies
If you live in an area that gets snow or ice in the winter, adding a few items to your shopping list in the fall can help you be prepared when the snow and ice arrive. Making sure you have salt, sand or ice melt on hand will allow you to address the storm as it comes and not have to run out for supplies in the height of the storm.
Clean dryer vents
While it’s good practice to keep your dryer vents clear to enhance the dryer’s efficiency, there could be some unique safety benefits to doing it in the fall. You may know that lint buildup in dryer vents can cause a fire, but you may not know that the cool, dry weather in the fall increases static electricity, which can ignite lint that has built up. To tackle this task, you can either hire a professional or do it yourself.
Why is fall home maintenance important?
Fall home maintenance is more about the winter than it is the fall. By addressing seasonal home maintenance in the fall, you can be ready before colder weather hits in the winter. And by getting it done in the fall, you don’t have to be out in the cold for tasks that require you to be outside.
A little legwork now means you can relax in a home that’s ready for the cooler fall weather. Just remember to outsource projects to a professional if it doesn’t seem safe or you don’t feel comfortable tackling them on your own.
Feeling motivated to keep your home maintained no matter the season? The Home Check by Amica™ app helps you with the upkeep of your home by guiding you through getting organized and staying up-to-date in keeping your home in its best shape. Home Check helps you prioritize tasks based on the time of year and can help you understand the importance of each task to your home’s future health.
Simplify home maintenance and keep your home in its best shape by downloading the Home Check by AmicaTM app.
1 Fall Home Maintenance Checklist, HomeAdvisor, 2020.
2 Why You Need a Home Attic Inspection, Family Handyman, 2021
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