1.Clear the Gutters
Falling leaves and evergreen needles can block downspouts and cause rainwater to overflow gutters. Depending on where you live, the coming of winter can mean clogged gutters. This can cause ice dams, which push water under shingles and into your house. Clean gutters after most of the leaves have fallen, and do so by removing the debris with a plastic scoop or with a special curved wand attached to your garden hose. To keep gutters clear for next fall, install mesh or perforated leaf shields. In addition to cleaning gutters, you might need to install insulation in the attic or apply heat tape along the roof edge above the gutters to prevent ice dams.
2. Inspect Your Gutters
If you live in an area where the winters are full of ice and snow, ensure that gutters are securely attached to the house before winter hits. Check for any loose gutter spikes (8-inch-long nails that secure gutters to the eaves) and replace them with gutter screws, which hold better. Simply remove any loose spikes and drill gutter screws into the same hole.
3. Clean Lawn Equipment
4. Caulk the Cracks
6. Clean Up Your Exterior
Wash your home’s exterior and windows to start fresh for fall and prevent the growth of mold and mildew that feed on dirt. Make the task easy by renting a pressure washer for $50-$100 per day. Find out exactly how much pressure the washer will exert and whether the surface you plan to wash can withstand it.
7. Insulate and Ventilate
Common sense tells us that because heat rises, insulation counts most above living spaces. Indeed, insulating attic floors and sealing air leaks will keep your house warmer in winter and cooler in summer. If there is no flooring over the ceiling joists, adding loose insulation is as easy as emptying the bags and spreading an even layer. If your attic has flooring, you might need to insulate between the roof rafters. Don’t block vents in the soffit, gables, or eaves. These vents let air flow above the insulation to prevent overheating in the summer and moisture buildup and condensation in the winter.
8. Fan the Fires
Even if you live in a warm region, fall will likely bring cooler outdoor temperatures. Your forced-air heating system deserves an annual checkup, and it might as well be now. Electric heating systems require only that you vacuum the baseboard units and check the thermostats. With a forced-air furnace, get a professional tune-up, replace dirty filters, and clean and clear all registers and grilles.
— Have your chimney checked every year to ensure both your chimney system and venting systems are working properly and safely.
— Burn only well-seasoned hardwoods to reduce buildup of creosote, a flammable compound.
Fireplace Safety (cont.)
— Install a chimney cap to keep out debris and to prevent birds and animals from nesting.
— Install a carbon monoxide detector to warn you if harmful gases are entering your home — a blocked or damaged chimney can cause this.
— Have your chimney waterproofed to prevent long-term corrosion and masonry damage. Avoid rebuilding old chimneys by replacing damaged clay liners with stainless-steel chimney liner pipes.
Fireplace Safety (cont.)
— Inspect and maintain your chimney flashing (the seal between the chimney and the roof).
— Install a sealing damper in your wood-burning system to save energy and eliminate off-season odors.
— If you own, or are planning to install, a high-efficiency gas furnace, ask your chimney sweep to check that the unit is vented according to the National Fuel Gas Code.