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Fall Home Maintenance

A Few Inexpensive Projects Will Protect Your Home and Property During Winter

Winter is tough on homes, especially if you live in a region that regularly experiences frigid temperatures and heavy snowfall. And even if you reside in a milder climate, it's important to make sure your house and yard are in order before the coldest months of the year arrive. Follow the steps outlined below to square away trouble spots that can be exacerbated by Old Man Winter.

Interior Maintenance Checklist

  • Heating System: You don't want to wait until the last minute to find out that your furnace or boiler isn't working properly. A multi-point heating system tune-up performed in the fall ensures safe and efficient heating throughout the winter. Fall is also a good time to have duct cleaning - which helps remove dust and other particles from the air - done.
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  • Chimneys: If you have a woodstove or fireplace, it's important to have the chimney cleaned at least once per year to reduce fire risk. There's no better time to bring in a chimney sweep than the fall, just prior to peak burning season.
  • Insulation: New insulation can dramatically reduce your heating bills and help prevent pipes from freezing and bursting. An inexpensive way to protect pipes in exposed areas is to wrap them in heat tape.
  • Windows and Doors: Warm weather screens should be switched out in favor of storm windows and doors during the fall. Autumn is also an ideal time to apply caulking and weather stripping around windows and doors, as drafts can significantly reduce energy efficiency.
  • Smoke Alarms and Carbon Monoxide Detectors: Furnaces and fireplaces present a risk of fire and unhealthy fumes. Test your smoke alarm and carbon monoxide detectors and replace the batteries or the entire unit as needed.
  • Air Conditioners: Remove window units and, if you have an outdoor unit, wrap it in plastic or another type of fitted cover.

Exterior Maintenance Checklist

  • Gutters and Downspouts: Leaves and other debris need to be removed from gutters and downspouts to prevent damage to the units, ice dams, inadequate drainage, wood rot, and animal infestation. Fall is also the ideal time to address drainage issues. If your home flooded last spring, prevent it from happening again by hiring a landscaper.
  • Roof: Few things can bring out roof problems like a layer of snow and ice. A roof inspection will identify problems such as loose or missing shingles or issues with the roof decking. Repairing them protects not only the roof itself, but your entire home as well.
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  • Swimming Pool: Failure to winterize your outdoor pool could lead to major problems by the time spring rolls around. And if you need a new pool cover, now is the time to buy one.
  • Driveway: Sealing your driveway in the fall helps it to stand up to freezing temperatures, snow, and ice.
  • Yard Work: A simple fall lawn cleanup by a landscaping crew will rid your yard of leaves and other debris, but you certainly don't have to stop there. Professional landscapers can winterize your lawn, garden, and irrigation system, prune shrubs and annuals, trim branches that might fall on your home or power lines during a winter storm, apply fertilizer, reseed, aerate turf, and much more.
  • Exterior Walls: Peeling or blistering paint is a sign of paint failure. It's not too late to repaint your home in the fall, and a fresh coat will protect siding, which can be expensive to repair.

Fall Home Maintenance Costs

  • Although many of the tasks described above are easy do-it-yourself projects, others are better left to a professional. You might consider hiring a handyman who can complete several different jobs at once, such as insulating pipes, caulking around windows and doors, and winterizing your sprinklers. For $400 to $600, you can probably get a handyman to complete several items on your fall maintenance to-do-list.
  • Other tasks demand the services of a specific professional. The prices below should give you an idea of what some of the leading home fall maintenance projects will cost:
    • Heating system tune-up: $50-$200
    • Chimney sweeping: $200-$300
    • Install insulation: $1,000-$3,000
    • Roof inspection: $150-$300
    • Swimming pool maintenance: $250-$350
    • Gutter cleaning: $100-$200
    • Leaf and yard cleanup: $250-$500; $500-$1,000+ for more comprehensive landscaping services.
    • Driveway sealing: $.15-$.25 per square foot
    • Exterior painting: $3,000-$10,000

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