This fall checklist can help you avoid costly home damage Posted in Home A quality fall home maintenance checklist will help you keep your home in a safe, clean condition. It will also help you minimize risk of loss or damage. We’ve compiled a list of interior and exterior home maintenance tasks you can do to reduce damage to your home and ultimately save money. With the help of a hired professional or your own elbow grease, you can reduce the risk of damage to your home. Each item on this fall house maintenance checklist explains what the task is, how often to complete it and the potential costly issues you can avoid. Let’s get started! Exterior fall maintenance checklist for your home To prepare your home for moisture and dropping temperatures this fall, it’s best to start outside. Consider adding these tasks to your exterior fall maintenance checklist: 1. Clean the gutters Your gutters and downspouts are essential for distributing rainfall away from the foundation of your home to keep it dry and solid. Rocket Homes recommends cleaning your gutters twice a year. However, if you live in a wooded area or have several trees near your home, consider checking your gutters and downspouts several times per year to avoid leaf and debris buildup. To clean your gutters yourself, you’ll need a sturdy ladder, waterproof gloves, a trash bag and a partner to spot you while you’re on the ladder. You can also hire a professional to clear debris out of your gutters. If you neglect your gutters, your home can be seriously damaged by rainfall and debris buildup. Your gutter system can overflow and break due to heavy branches and leaves or the clogged gutters can force water to puddle on the roof or drain along siding. Even more, your clogged gutter system can drain water straight down the walls into the foundation which can lead to a damp basement where mold can grow. Any of these issues can lead to very costly damage. When you clean your gutters twice per year, you can minimize the risk of loss and keep your home structurally sound. 2. Turn off and drain outdoor water sources To avoid frozen or bursting pipes and protect your outdoor water sources, ProtectYourPipes.org says there are a few maintenance steps you should follow every autumn before the temperatures drop below freezing: Drain and remove garden hoses to store in a shed or garage for the fall and winter Drain any in-ground irrigation systems according to the manufacturer’s directions Open the outside spigots to allow water to drain out Turn off water to outside spigots before freezing temperatures arrive These are just a few ways to minimize the risk of freezing and bursting water lines, which can potentially save you lots of money on repairs or replacement costs. Be sure to follow these steps every fall before temperatures drop below freezing and always consult a professional plumber if you have questions or concerns about your pipes. 3. Care for your outdoor furniture, plants and lawn Covering your garden, fall landscaping and outdoor furniture is a great way to protect your property until spring rolls around. Whether your annuals need protection from frost or you want to keep your furniture free from moisture, covering fall landscaping and patio furniture can pay off. It’s also important to trim your lawn one final time before the frost comes. Without a final cut, Ever-Green Turf & Landscape says lawns can develop a moldy fungus. But if you cut the grass too short, it can also get a winter freeze burn. Leaving around three inches of lawn is best for the overall health of your grass. SouthernLiving.com says if plants “aren’t able to be moved, cover the entire container with plastic or burlap (wrapping the base helps reduce heat loss).” This will keep plants strong so they bounce back quickly in the spring. The site goes on to say, “plants are damaged when ice forms in their cells, causing tissues to die and their leaves to turn brown, shriveled and mushy.” To protect patio furniture from inclement weather, you can opt to wrap the pieces in plastic or purchase covers designed to keep moisture out. Too much moisture on your furniture during the cooler months can lead to rust or decay, which can make it unsafe to use when the weather warms back up. Protect your investments and reduce replacement costs for damaged plants and outdoor furniture by covering them up every fall. Learn about our Home Insurance Learn More Interior fall maintenance checklist for your home After you’ve handled the exterior fall maintenance checklist for your home, head indoors for some more tasks that can help you keep your home in good condition while saving you money on repairs or replacement costs. Consider adding these tasks to your interior fall maintenance checklist: 1. Clean the air ducts Your air ducts can clog with dust, dirt, hair and other fragments that collect around your home. When you clean your air ducts, you may be able to improve the air quality in your home. Plus, clean air ducts may help people who suffer from allergies breathe better. According to J & A South Park, the average family generates nearly 40 pounds of dust each year. Much of that dust can pile up in your air duct system. You can choose to hire a professional to clean your air ducts or you can do it yourself with a vacuum, screwdriver or power drill, pair of gloves, brush, cloth and a new furnace filter. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) says there isn’t a set recommendation for how often you should clean your air ducts. However, the EPA warns you should consider cleaning your air duct system if there is mold growth in or around your HVAC system, your air ducts are infested with pests, or there are visible signs of dust blowing from the supply registers. If you have a large family or several pets in your home, you may want to consider checking for clean air ducts every fall. It’s important to note pests can get trapped in the duct system and could become a fire hazard when other dust and debris builds up over time. According to All Boro, a restoration, remediation, construction and maintenance company, this debris typically has to accumulate over an extended period of time to become a fire hazard, but it is a possible risk. Check and clean your air ducts every fall to decrease the risk of fire and spending thousands on remediation costs. 2. Seal windows and doors It’s important to keep your home energy efficient all year long. In the fall, focus on sealing your windows and doors to keep the warm air inside and the cold air out. If you have older windows, poorly sealed doors or a drafty attic, you should consider these options to keep your home temperature comfortable: Use door sweeps or draft snakes on exterior doors for insulation Add plastic film to windows to create an airtight seal Install foam tape on attic hatches Caulk window between the frame and siding Sealing windows and doors will keep your whole family, including pets, more comfortable during fall and winter. These steps can also help you save significantly on your heating bills throughout the cold weather months. 3. Clean and inspect fireplace and chimney If you use your fireplace to keep your home cozy in the fall or winter, it’s essential to have your chimney inspected and cleaned to protect your house and keep your family safe. According to the Chimney Safety Institute of America (CSIA) and the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), annual chimney inspections are recommended at least once per year and cleaning and maintenance should occur as necessary. Without proper chimney care in a wood burning fireplace, you can inhale creosote deposits that get stuck in the chimney. These deposits have a bad odor and can be an indicator you need chimney sweeping services. For masonry fireplaces, it’s important to keep soot buildup to a minimum to avoid combustion that can spread into your house. Neglecting fireplace and chimney maintenance can create unhealthy breathing environments or dangerous fires that spread inside your home, which can be costly to repair or remediate. Be sure to make an appointment for an inspection before you plan to use your fireplace this fall and always consult a professional chimney sweep with questions or concerns. More quick maintenance tips to follow every six months If you want to go the extra mile, these home tips can come in handy to complete every six months. Start these items this fall and revisit this checklist in the spring. Check your smoke and CO2 detectors and replace the batteries Change your air filter to keep dust and allergens out of the air Change ceiling fans to rotate the opposite direction to bring up hot air Talk to your Independent Agent to make sure your homeowners insurance is still accurate Consider hiring an HVAC professional to assess your furnace and tend to any maintenance before the temperature drops This article is for informational and suggestion purposes only. Implementing these suggestions does not guarantee coverage. If any policy coverage descriptions in this article conflict with the language in the policy, the language in the policy applies. For full details on Grange’s home insurance coverages and discounts, contact your local independent agent. References Rocket Homes Gutter Helmet NY Southern Living J & A South Park EPA All Boro Service Champions HGTV Home Depot NFPA CSIA Ever-Green Lawn Care Share via: Facebook Twitter LinkedIn Email Related resources Are electric space heaters safe? Posted in General, Home, Business As the temperature drops, you may be tempted to turn on an electric space heater to stay comfortable and warm. Learn how to use your space heater safely — both indoors and outside — on cold weather days. 5 home risks to consider when buying a home Posted in Home While shopping for your next home, keep these five potential home risks in mind and learn how they might affect your homeowners’ insurance. Find out how to get the right insurance coverage for your new home. What is my home’s replacement cost? Posted in Home Knowing your home’s true replacement cost can help you find the right amount of home insurance and make recovery easier after an unexpected event. 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