Your Fall Home Maintenance Checklist


If you live in the northern U.S. you don’t need a news flash to tell you that winter is on the way. Baseball fans in Denver this weekend nodded knowingly when the Rockies-Phillies game was snowed out on Saturday night and Chicagoans were expecting their first snowfall this weekend.

To homeowners, the changing of the seasons (of the colder variety) means battening down the hatches and protecting your household from the elements.

No doubt about it, taking steps to seal your house from Mother Nature’s worst can mean the difference between recording your home budget in black ink rather than red this winter.

Just sealing off the outside air from your home can save up to 30% in energy bills this winter, according to the U.S. Department of Energy.

So what’s your move? From a home maintenance point of view, there is no shortage of creative ways to insure that you save money on energy costs, protect the value of your home – and even protect your family’s health. Don’t wait on them – tardiness can cost you if you miss a chance to weather-proof your house this fall.

Now that we’re on the clock, let’s look at some of the best moves homeowners can make while the leaves are still on the trees – and the thermostat is still above 50 degrees.

Clear your gutters. This is a tricky one, because it’s actually best if you wait until after all the leaves have fallen. But when they do, go ahead and clean your gutter, especially if you live in a very leafy neighborhood. Stuffed gutters can back water up, and potentially trigger flooding after heavy rains or snow. Missing this one can really induce sticker shock – cleaning crews can charge $4,000 or more to mop up a flood in a 2,000 square-foot house. breaks the process down for you here.

Put your thermostat on the clock. Programmable thermostats are very much in vogue. Busy commuters can set their thermostat to shut off when they’re gone off to work, and kick back on again as they come home again. The thermostats cost only $20 or so and you can install them yourself. has got the goods here.

Don’t crack up. A beautiful autumn Sunday afternoon – when your favorite NFL team in on a bye-week – is a good time to closely examine your sidewalk and driveway for home value-draining (not to mention unsightly) cracks and fissures. When water trapped in such cracks freezes, the ice expands the cracks and dislodges cement, giving you a miniaturized version of a pot-holed street. That results in an eyesore, and less value for your home.

It’s also a good idea to caulk your doors and windows and have your heating system cleaned before the cold weather hits (not changing your filter can cause significant damage to a hot water heater, especially an old one). Since you’ll be stuck inside more as the cold weather creeps in, take the time to clean your dryer vent. Plugged-up dryer vents are one of the leading causes of home fires, according to the U.S. Fire Administration.

Weather-proofing your home as autumns envelopes it is just good business. Your home is a major investment – protecting it when the elements are literally knocking on your door is the best way to protect that investment.

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