It's fall, which means shorter days and colder weather ahead. To ensure you won't need emergency repairs in the winter, do some preventative maintenance now while it's still nice outside. Here are some essential fall home improvement projects to keep you safe and secure when the temperature really starts to drop:
#1 Clean and inspect gutters.
If you haven't been keeping an eye on your gutters throughout the summer, it's time to give them a good inspection. They could be harboring leaves and other debris from storms, winds and pests. Use your rake or hose to clear them for the winter moisture ahead. Look for any signs of damage that may cause a leak. Leaks can damage your siding and lead to the potential need for roof repairs in the winter. A professional will charge between$170 and $500 to repair your gutters.
#2 Check your roof.
Inclement weather gives your roof a beating throughout the year. After a summer of rain and heat, you should check it for leaks and other damage. If you don't address those concerns before potential hail or snow, you could run into much larger problems -- and you don't want snow and ice caving in your roof or damaging your attic.
#3 Touch up the exterior paint.
Depending on the type of siding you have, there's a chance it needs a touch-up. Vinyl and wood siding, in particular, are prone to peeling and chipping in excess heat and inclement weather conditions. To kick up your curb appeal and keep your siding in top condition, take some time over a weekend to address these issues with a paintbrush. Your paint may need some extra varnish or stain, for which you may need to hire some professional help. Just remember that doing so protects your siding in the winter and prevents more expensive repairs.
#4 Winterize the lawn.
To keep your lawn healthy through winter and into the spring, do some preventative yard work:
- Rake leaves
- Aerate the soil
- Fertilize the grass, trees and shrubs
While you can do most of these projects yourself over the weekend, consider hiring a lawn care service for the fertilization and aeration services. Pros have the experience and equipment to ensure your lawn gets the care it needs to last through the cold months ahead.
#5 Test your outdoor lights.
You don't want to slip and fall on the ice in the winter, nor do you want to pay the unnecessary medical bills that will come as a result. So, make sure your outdoor lights are in working order for the winter ahead. Scrub them with a scouring pad and spray their frames with rust-repellent paint. Check to make sure the bulbs are working and replace them if needed. If you think the walkway needs more lighting, invest in additional as accent lighting -- whether it's along the pathway or around your trees and shrubs.
#6 Tune your heating system.
Your heating system is essential in the winter, so care for it now. Whether you have a boiler, a water heater, a furnace or a geothermal heating system, make sure it's in top condition. If you've had problems with the system in the past year, you might need to have a heating professional look at it. Otherwise, perform the preventative maintenance outlined in the manual. It's not always easy to get a heating professional out in the middle of winter, and you certainly don't want to freeze.
#7 Clean the fireplace.
For those nights when you want a fire, it's important to have a clean and working fireplace. If you used the fireplace last year, there's going to be soot, burnt wood and creosote in the chimney. You need to have it all cleaned up to reduce the potential for a house fire. Then, you'll need to have the fireplace and chimney inspected by a professional for any potential damage. You don't want an accidental house fire because you didn't take proper preventative measures