Your Fall Home Maintenance Checklist

home maintenance

Have you started your fall home maintenance chores yet? Fall is a great time to take care of big home repair projects before shorter days, ice and snow make outdoor work too difficult. Tick these 14 items off your list this season, and you can rest easy knowing that your home and yard are buttoned up and ready for winter.

1. Care for trees and shrubs.

 If you have trees on your property, consider hiring an arborist to care for them — these pros can spot signs of poor health early on to prevent tree loss, and know how to prune properly to avoid falling limbs in winter storms.

It’s also a good idea to observe your trees throughout the fall, keeping an eye out for signs that signal a need for intervention.  Early change in leaf color, pines looking thin and/or needles turning brown, and dead branches are all signs of diseases.

2. Rake leaves. 

Leaves look beautiful blanketing the ground, but leaving too many leaves on a lawn over winter in a snowy area can inhibit spring growth. To make the job easier, choose a lightweight rake, wear gloves to protect your hands and use handheld “leaf scoops” to bag leaves quickly.

3. Clean gutters and downspouts.

 Once most of the leaves have fallen, clean out gutters and downspouts (hire a helper if you are not comfortable on a ladder). In the winter, when gutters are clogged, any amount of snow can cause big problems. One freeze and thaw cycle can lead to extremely heavy ice dams in the gutter system.

4. Make exterior repairs.

 Take a walk around your property, looking for signs of damage to the roof, siding and foundation. If you spot anything that needs repair, schedule it before winter weather hits.

5. Seal gaps where critters could enter.

Mice need only a tiny gap to be able to sneak into your house and raid your pantry — and with colder weather coming, all of the little critters out there will be looking for warm places to make a home. Make sure this is on your home maintenance list! Fill small holes and cover any larger gaps securely with heavy-duty hardware cloth to keep the wildlife outdoors.

6. Check walkways, railings, stairs and the driveway for winter safety.

When the landscape is covered in ice and snow, just walking from the driveway to the front door can be quite a challenge. Make navigating around your home safer by checking that all stairs are in good shape and have sturdy railings, and that the driveway is in good repair to make for easier shoveling.

home maintenance

7. Stock up on winter supplies. With snow on the way, fall is the best time to prepare! Check the condition of snow shovels and ice scrapers; replace as needed. Pick up a bag or two of ice melt (preferably pet and plant friendly!). Also, don’t forget to restock your emergency kits for the car!

8. Shut off exterior faucets and store hoses. 

Protect your pipes from freezing temperatures by shutting off water to exterior faucets before the weather dips below freezing. Drain hoses and store them indoors.

9. Add weatherstripping.

 Weatherstripping applied around the frames of windows and doors helps boost winter warmth and cut energy costs. Add door sweeps to the base of drafty doors to keep heat in and cold air out.

10. Check safety devices.

It’s truly a great idea to get in the habit of checking all of your home safety devices a few times a year.  I like to check mine in the Fall and then again in the Spring.  Make sure to test smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors and replace batteries as needed.  It’s also a great time to check the expiration date on your fire extinguisher and replace if needed.

11. Remove window A/C units. 

If you use window air conditioning units in the summer make sure this one is definitely on your home maintenance checklist! Remove them before the weather turns cold!

12. Clean dryer vents. 

Lint buildup in dryer vents can make your dryer work less efficiently and even cause a fire — cool, dry fall weather increases static electricity, which can ignite lint that has built up, so now is a key time to get that lint out. You can hire a duct cleaning specialist to clean the vents for you, or clean the vent yourself.

13. Deep-clean the kitchen.

 More than likely, you will be spending more time cooking in your kitchen (than your backyard!) once the snow starts.  Take a day to tackle some of the more labor-intensive cleaning tasks, and keep your kitchen working efficiently and looking great. 

14. Schedule a chimney cleaning and heating system maintenance.

Making sure your chimney and furnace or boiler are cleaned, maintained and in working order before you need to turn on the heat is an important home maintenance safety measure. And be sure to add a chimney cap if you don’t already have one — it will stop critters from crawling down your chimney.

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