Fall is one of my favorite times of year (second after winter!). There are so many wonderful things that come with the changing of the seasons: leaves changing color, pumpkin spice everything, and crisp fall air. As we say goodbye, sweet summer, it’s wise to start preparing our homes for the season ahead. Here are a few home maintenance projects you can complete in preparation of the fall season.
#1. Clean Your Gutters: It is a good idea to remove leaves, sticks, and other small objects from your gutters once in the fall and again in the spring. Cleaning out debris-ridden gutters eliminates the risk of overflow and water damage. If your gutters are clogged, it can cause water to accumulate in areas of your roof, leading to an increased risk of decay, moisture and leaks. You can have your gutters professionally serviced or clean them yourself.
#2. Seal Air Leaks: Caulking or weatherstripping will help seal leaks around leaky doors and windows – helping you stay warm, save energy, and reduce heat loss. Other sources of air leaks include knee walls, attic hatch/opening, wiring holes, plumbing vents, and recessed lights. The Department of Energy has some useful tips on how to select and apply the appropriate caulk for your windows and doors. You can also learn how to choose and apply weatherstipping.
#3. Do a Roof Check: The National Roofing Contractors Association (NRCA) recommends a biannual roof inspection. An asphalt shingled roof has a lifespan of up to 20 years, whereas, a slate roof can last 50 years or more. While you can replace roof shingles without going through the hassle and expense of replacing the entire roof, it is important to take the time to really look for signs of deterioration, damage, and missing/loose shingles. If you’re unsure, hire an expert.
#4. Spring for a Chimney Sweep: If you have a wood-burning fireplace that you plan on using come winter, fall is the perfect time to make sure its chimney is inspected and cleaned. A clean chimney will also ensure that your fireplace is operating at its most efficient. Hire a professional chimney cleaning company, typically called a chimney sweep, for a clean and efficient fireplace. You can find certified chimney sweepers at the Chimney Safety Institute of America.
#5. Install a Programmable Thermostat: Installing a programmable thermostat can reduce your energy usage by automatically adjusting your home’s temperature settings while you’re away or sleeping. When used properly, a programmable thermostat can save up to $180 per year in energy costs, according to ENERGY STAR®. WiFi and smartphone controlled models, while more expensive, generally tend to pay for themselves in just one season.
#6. Ensure Your and Your Family’s Safety: As fall turns to winter, you will want to be diligent, making sure you and your family remain safe. Before winter hits, replace the batteries in your home’s smoke, heat, and carbon monoxide detectors. Test each one to make that they are working properly. Now is also a good time to draft or review a fire safety plan with your family. The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) is a good resource for information on fire safety/escape plans.