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What tasks should be on my fall to-do list?

Ah, can you feel it in the air? Temperatures are dropping. Leaves are changing. Without question, fall is coming. It's time to make sure your home is ready from the inside out.
Exterior, Basement, & Foundation
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Clean your gutters and downspouts

Why

Buildup of leaves and twigs can cause blockages, leading to overflowing and leaks. Left unattended, that water can seep under shingles and freeze, which can cause major roof damage.

When

Fall & early Winter

Related Advice

Should I clean my gutters myself?

What can I expect when hiring a gutter pro?

Related Video


Watch this video to learn what to consider when choosing and installing gutter guards.

Who Can Help

If you don't feel comfortable getting up on the roof or climbing a ladder, find a gutter cleaning expert to do the job.

Inspect your exterior walls and outdoor electrical receptacles

Why

Your siding might need to be repaired, bricks may need replacing, or your stucco might need a patch. Any moisture over the upcoming months can ice up, creep into and expand in small spaces, and cause big damage. And you'll want to make sure your electrical receptacles are water tight, or you could be dealing with dangerous shorts and expensive electrical repairs.

Related Advice

How do I hire a siding contractor?

How do I maintain my siding?

How do I find a quality electrician?

Who Can Help

The inspection can be a do-it-yourself project, but if repairs need to be made that you're not comfortable doing, you can find a siding expert or hire an electrician.

When

Fall & Spring

Check for cracked or damaged windows

Why

Damaged window frames and broken glass can let in moisture, which can lead to mold or mildew buildup. And if your windows are cracked-or simply outdated single-pane designs-they can let in lots of unwanted cold air, causing your utility bills to spike much higher than needed.

Related Advice

How can replacing windows help me save on utility bills?

How do I choose a window and door contractor?

Who Can Help

You can inspect the windows on your own, but you might hire a window expert to inspect window integrity in more detail or to replace your windows.

When

Fall & Spring, but monthly is ideal

Check your crawlspace or unfinished basement for leaks and critters.

Why

Leaky pipes can cause wood rot, foundation cracks, and high water bills. All that moisture also breeds mold and mildew, terrible for health issues. And if any uninvited pests nestled in but didn't exactly survive the winter, you need to remove them before they start to stink. Plus, even though they're not in the land of the living, they can still spread disease.

Related Advice

How do I hire the right plumber?

Are there any do-it-yourself pest control solutions I can try first?

What common signs could point to a plumbing problem?

Who Can Help

You can hire a plumber to fix leaks or find a pest control expert to remove the dead critters.

When

Fall

Interior & Appliance
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Clean your air ducts

Why

Dust, debris, and allergens can settle in your air ducts, so it's a good idea to clear them out before the heater blows it all out and into the air you breathe.

When

Fall & Spring

Related Advice

Do I need to get my air ducts cleaned?

Related Video


Watch this video to learn what you should expect in a duct cleaning service.

Who Can Help

Not many homeowners do this on their own, so it's best to hire an air duct cleaning pro.

Get your furnace inspected and serviced

Why

A furnace that is properly cleaned and serviced will run more efficiently and heat your home better over the colder months. (Translation: you get to breathe clean air and spend less on heating bills.)

Related Advice

How do I find a good HVAC pro?

What HVAC maintenance should I do myself?

How does my HVAC system work?

Who Can Help

Cleaning or replacing your filter is a fairly simple task to do by yourself, but hire an HVAC pro to make sure your furnace is running right.



When

Fall

Clean your fireplace, flue, and chimney

Why

If you have and use a wood-burning fireplace, the flue and chimney can build up with ash and creosote, which restricts the flow of air and causes smoke to back up. Getting this buildup cleaned out will make sure your flue works properly and your chimney draws well.



Who Can Help

It's a dirty job, but you can do it yourself with some inexpensive tools, or you can find a chimney sweep to do it so you can stay clean.

When

Fall

Get your water heater serviced

Why

Over time, your water heater builds up with sediment like fine sands and minerals, which restrict the amount of water it can hold. In addition to a reduced capacity, this buildup also makes the water heater have to work harder to keep the water hot. Draining and flushing the water heater will refresh its capacity, and servicing the heating elements will make sure you have plenty of hot water for the coming colder months.

Related Advice

Which plumbing projects should be left to the experts?

How do I hire the right plumber?

How does a tankless water heater work?

Who Can Help

Find a licensed plumber to get the right person for the job.

When

Fall

Clean your range hood, fan, and filter

Why

Your range hood can be the difference between relaxing comfortably inside and madly scurrying outside during mealtime-depending on the pungency of the meal and your ability to keep it from charring. If the fan and filter are caked with grease, airflow is restricted and it doesn't filter the air effectively, which means opening windows and escaping to the outside are your only means for fresh air. Plus, those smells can get imbedded in your fabrics like carpet, couches, and curtains. Cleaning the hood, fan, and filter will keep the air flowing well, so your home smells fall-fresh and you don't have to run out into the cold.

Related Advice

How do I hire a quality maid service?



Who Can Help

It's a dirty job, but it's typically a do-it-yourselfer. If you don't want to get dirty, hire a hood-cleaning pro.

When

Fall

Backyard & Landscape
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Trim up your trees

Why

Before the leaves have fallen, it's an easy time to spot branches that are dangerously close to power lines or dead branches that can fall if tested with a bit of wind or snow.

When

Fall & early Spring

Related Advice

How do I hire a quality tree service?

What can a tree service do for me?

Who Can Help

You might be able to cut down some lower-level branches, but hire a tree service to handle the branches that higher up or if you're unsure how to best trim your trees.

Winterize your sprinkler system and lawn

Why

Your lawn is getting ready to hibernate, so you can turn off the sprinkler system and blow out the lines to prevent breaks due to freezing. However, your lawn still needs vital nutrients before winter, so it's a good idea to rake leaves often for good sun exposure, and lay down a fall fertilizer to get it ready for next spring.

Related Advice

The cold truth about winterizing lawns

How do I hire the right lawn care company?

How do I care for my cool-season lawn?



Who Can Help

It doesn't take much to do this on your own, but you can find a lawn specialist to handle it for you, and who might be better versed in sprinkler system care.

When

Fall

Shut the pool down

Why

If you have a pool and don't want to spend a fortune to keep it warm all winter, now's a good time to drain it and cover it up before Mr. Frost shows up. It's also important to winterize the pump and heater system so you don't have lines freezing and breaking for a messy and expensive start to next summer's poolside fun.

Related Advice

Closing Time: 5 steps to winterize the pool

Should I hire a pool maintenance pro or do it myself?

How should I care for my pool?

Who Can Help

You can find a pool pro to take care of this lengthy project, unless you have a weekend free to do it yourself.



When

Fall