Fall home maintenance checklist

There are several items you should ensure you are doing to upkeep your home. We have compiled a fall maintenance checklist for your convenience!


Late fall is the best time of year to prune bushes, shrubs and trees, as most of your plants have stopped (or slowed down drastically) growing. Now is also the best time to fertilize and reseed your lawn.

Trim tree branches at least 3 feet from your house so moisture doesn’t drip onto the roof and siding. This will also help to ensure that branches don’t fall on your home – causing roof, window and other damages – during high freezing winds. Heavy snow and ice can cause serious damage in the winter. And pruning in the fall encourages healthy growth for next year!

Rake up the thick layers of leaves that settle on lawn surfaces. Large leaves in particular, especially when they get wet, can compact to the point where they suffocate the grass below and lead to all kinds of insect and disease problems. So it’s a good idea to routinely rake or blow them off the lawn or, better yet, use a mulching mower to shred them into fine pieces.

For advice on pruning specific plants in your region, check with your state extension service.

Fall maintenance item #2… Plan an afternoon to take a walk around the exterior of your property. Be sure to check the roof, siding and foundation. If you spot anything that needs repair, schedule it before winter weather hits. Use a screwdriver to probe the wood trim around windows, doors, railings and decks. Use caulk to fill the holes or completely replace the wood if necessary. During the winter months, water will find its way into these cracks and then freeze, causing them to expand and the damage to worsen.

When checking your roof, here are a few items to note. If the shingles are curling, buckling or crackling, they probably need replaced. If you have a lot of damage, it may be time to replace the entire roof. Also, check the flashing around skylights, pipes and chimneys. If you have any leaks or gaps, heavy snow and ice will find its way in. If your roof does need replaced, make sure to call a reliable contractor to do the job!


Critters, bugs and drafts – they only need a small crack to be able to sneak into your house and raid your pantry (or raise your heating bill!). With colder weather coming soon, all of the little critters out there will be looking for warm places to make a home. Now is the time to fill small holes and cover any larger gaps securely with heavy-duty hardware cloth to keep out unwanted pests!

Go the extra mile and caulk holes or cracks on the interior and exterior. Grab a tube of exterior caulk and walk around your house, sealing up cracks around window and door frames, between trim and siding, and where pipes/wires enter the house. Preventing moisture and pests from entering your home is one of the least expensive, and most important, fall maintenance items.

CLEAN GUTTERS AND DOWNSPOUTSNow that most of the leaves have fallen, its time to clean out those gutters and downspouts. Chances are you will want someone to help you out with this ‘less than fun’ chore. Clogged gutters can cause water to pool during storms, and cause damage to your roof and siding. Cleaning gutters and downspouts frequently can help prevent build up and damages. Neglected gutters can lead to wood rot, pest issues, ruined roofs and ruined gutters! Plus its FREE to clean them out, a must for fall maintenance!

Make sure water is not coming down behind the gutters, and that all support brackets are secure. Ensure that water is draining properly and not pooling. Make sure your gutters aren’t sagging and trapping water, tighten brackets and hangers. Make sure to replace any worn, damaged gutters and downspouts.

Your downspouts should extend at least 5 feet away from your house to prevent foundation problems. If they don’t, add downspout extensions; $10 to $20 each.

SHUT OFF EXTERIOR FAUCETS, STORE HOSES AND INSULATE PIPESThe cold weather can be incredibly hard on the plumbing in your home – especially when temperatures reach below freezing. To avoid your water freezing – or worse, your pipes breaking – you should have insulation protecting your hot and cold pipes throughout as much of the home as possible. Make sure you are protecting your pipes from freezing temperatures! Turn off any shutoff valves on water supply lines that lead to exterior faucets. That way, you’ll guard against minor leaks that may let water enter the faucet.  Remove garden hoses from outdoor faucets. Leaving a house attached to the faucet can cause water to back up in the faucets and in the plumbing pipes just inside your exterior walls. If freezing temps hit, that water could freeze, expand, and crack the faucet or pipes. Make this an early fall maintenance priority so a sudden cold snap doesn’t sneak up and cause severe damage to your home.

Your pipes that are located close to outside walls, in attics or crawlspaces are also prone to freeze! Ensure they are insulated properly with foam or rubber insulation. Wrapping them in heat tape is also an option that will help keep them warm, and prevent water inside from freezing. If you live in the country and have a pump house, make sure there is always a light on for added heat in the winter months.


Since up to 50% of household air can flow up from your crawl space, it’s important to keep this typically unsightly space as clean and dry as possible. Since water vapor enters the crawl space from the ground (even through cement), many people are encapsulating their crawl space to keep the moisture out. Adding a crawl space vapor barrier and dehumidifier is widely accepted as the best way to improve indoor air quality and make energy improvements inside your home.

Neglected crawl spaces can lead to problems inside the actual house. You might notice an increase in dampness or humidity. You could start to see signs of mice in your cupboards. You might start to notice your floors feel “soggy” and “squishy.” You may be shocked when you open your utility bills and see they have doubled or tripled. You could even experience problems with mold and mildew. This is another job you will want to hire a professional for.

Weatherproofing your home can help keep warmth inside during the winter months, and cut those energy costs!

Sealing gaps around windows and doors can cut your winter heating bill by up to 15%! On windows, use adhesive backed foam and apply it onto the bottom of the sash. Use foam strips on the sides and tops of doors, and install a door sweep at the bottom, if you don’t already have one.

Make sure your storm windows are installed properly – If you have old windows, make sure they are in good repair and closed correctly all around your home.  Storm windows help to provide an additional layer of protection against the cold winter air.

SCHEDULE CHIMNEY CLEANING/ HVAC MAINTENANCE CHECK UPYou’ve waited all year and its finally time to make the switch… its finally time to turn the heat on! You’re anxiously awaiting the feeling of warmth but it doesn’t come… and that’s when you find out something is wrong with your heating system. Don’t wait until you need it to ensure that it’s in working order! 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 safety measure.

Schedule an appointment with a heating professional to check your heating system to ensure optimal performance and discover minor problems before they turn into costly major repairs. You’ll pay $50 to $100 for a checkup. An annual maintenance contract ensures you’re at the top of the list for checks and shaves 20% off the cost of a single visit.

Clean your ducts to better your heating system’s efficiency as well as to reduce household dust and to provide relief to those with respiratory problems.

Change your furnace filters, too. This is a job you should do every two months anyway, but if you haven’t, now’s the time.



Fireplaces are rustic and charming, and a great way to catch a break on that electric bill during the winter months! But before you go lighting up, make sure to check over your fireplace to make sure it is in working order- especially if you are just moving in!

Climb up on the roof (or pay a professional to do so) to take a look at your chimney. Make sure the cap is in good shape (this prevents water and debris from getting into the chimney). Check the crown for cracks and decomposition. Check the flashing around the base that seals the gap between it and the roof for signs of damage.

When not in use, the chimney is also letting warm air OUT (which is what it is designed to do…). Always remember to close the flue when you don’t have a fire going.

Ensure your flue is properly cleaned. Excess buildup of creosote or other obstructions such as animal nests etc are highly flammable if allowed to accumulate. They can also hamper air flow, and send dangerous carbon monoxide into the house when a fireplace is in use.

CLEAN DRYER VENTSLint buildup in your dryer vents can happen all year round.  It can cause your dryer to work less efficiently and even cause a fire. So why is this on our Fall Maintenance list? The cool, dry fall weather increases static electricity, which can ignite lint that has built up, and drastically increases the chances of a dryer fire. 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.