With the approach of cooler weather and colder temps, it's smart to do home repairs and maintenance in the fall. In addition to staving off the costs of expensive repairs and remodels, a little effort can help you save money on heating too!
Proper inspection of your fireplace is vital to ensuring its safe operation -- even if it is rarely used. An experienced chimney sweep will check wood fireplaces for flammable buildup and chimney blockages.
Touch Up Paint
Hit the trouble spots, such as the cut ends of all boards, especially fascia boards, where paint peels first. If you have a little more time, apply a coat of fresh paint to all trim pieces. Regular touch-ups can help hold off the need for a full blown exterior paint job.
Clean Your Carpets
Consider renting a steam cleaner to remove ground-in stains and odors for as little as $25 per day. Not only will it get rid of any musty smells, it can extend the life of your carpeting too!
Make sure that your downspouts and gutters are clean and secure. Drain water away from your home's foundation. Proper drainage can prevent roof and foundation damage. You can also protect your gutters with mesh guards to keep leaves and other debris from causing blockages in the first place.
Replacing even some of your incandescent light bulbs with high-efficiency compact fluorescent light bulbs (CFLs) saves you money and, depending on where you live, earns you a utility rebate.
Washing your home's exterior, including the windows, gives it a fresh look and helps prevent growth of mold and mildew that feed on dirt. You can rent a power washer from a hardware store for as little as $50-$100 per day. Make sure you know how much pressure the washer exerts and that its appropriate for the job at hand. Avoid pressure-washing vinyl because it can bend and water can seep behind it. Ask a knowledgeable store employee about appropriate nozzles.
Inspect the caulking and seals around windows and add or replace the weather stripping around your exterior doors to prevent heat-sucking drafts. Even leaks around outlets, switches and floor registers can let in air from the outside and crawlspaces. Your local home center representative can provide you with insulation kits designed for a fix.
Tune Your Furnace
Ideally, you should have your furnace checked each year. A furnace that is tuned as efficiently as possible will keep your family warm and cozy during chillier months. However, leave this yearly furnace tune-up to a professional.
If you have a problem window or two, replace them with more energy-efficient models. Look for low-E glass, multiple glass panes, warm-edge spacers between the panes, and gas fills such as argon or krypton.
Repair Your Roof
Check your roof for leaks and if one exists, make sure you fix it before the snow starts to Fall. With most leaks, especially those located at a ridge, valley, or underneath the roofing can lead to extensive and VERY expensive damage to your home's structure, interior walls, toxic mold and more.
Make sure your home's attic is fully insulated to save big on heating costs. Check your current insulation level by looking across the span of your attic. If the insulation is just level with or below your floor joists, you should add more -- enough to bring your attic to an insulation R-value of 38, or about 10-14 inches, depending on the insulation type. When adding insulation, you don't have to use the same type that currently exists in your attic.
Repair Driveways and Walks
Small cracks and gaps in a driveway or walkway can quickly expand during winter's freezing temperatures. Cracked cement and disintegrating asphalt can also create treacherous conditions for pedestrians. Left unattended, those cracks will grow and eventually require more costly, professional repair. Get these problems corrected at the start and save. There are a number of off the shelf products that are great for small repairs like these. Talk to an expert at a local hardware store.