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A Fall Home Maintenance Checklist

You've heard of spring cleaning, but what about fall? Cooler temperatures and storms often mean unexpected leaks, cold drafts, home repairs-and home repair bills. Fortunately, basic fall home maintenance can prevent many of these repairs. Below are a few tips to prepare your home and prevent maintenance issues.

Seal the Gaps. Use silicone caulk to seal windows and cracks in the siding, and use weather stripping around doors to keep cool air from seeping in.

Is Your Home Ventilated? While sealing gaps keeps the cold air out, your home needs to be properly ventilated to combat high indoor humidity, to expel potentially dangerous gases such as carbon monoxide, and to prevent moisture-related home repairs such as rot, mold, and insect infestation. In the fall, test exhaust fans, clean exhaust fan grills and dryer vents, and use your exhaust fans liberally.

Inspect and Clean the Chimney. This is one area where it pays to hire a professional chimney sweep. The Chimney Safety Institute of America recommends annual inspections to ensure the safety and efficiency of your chimney. This inspection will also address the chimney's role in ventilation.

Clear Rain Gutters. Keeping gutters clear of debris can prevent accumulated leaves and/or ice from forming "dams," which if left untreated can lead to major roof and siding leaks.

Test Your Detectors. The Consumer Products Safety Commission recommends changing the batteries in your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors at least once per year, typically when changing your clocks either in the fall or spring. The U.S. Fire Administration recommends testing them monthly and replacing them every ten years.

Examine the Roof. Use binoculars to scan the roof for missing, loose, or damaged shingles. Keep an eye out for signs of wind damage. If you notice any issues, take appropriate measures to secure the compromised area before more severe weather arrives. A minor repair now could save you from major repairs (and water damage) later.

Tune Up Your HVAC System. At a minimum, change your furnace filters. This will go a long way in improving the efficiency of your HVAC system and potentially extending its useful life. Many HVAC service companies offer affordable HVAC tune-ups this time of year in which they'll change the filters, clean the coils, check the thermostat, and inspect the system's components for signs of wear and tear.

Call Your Gas Company. Most gas utility companies offer free services in the fall and winter in which a technician will light your pilot lights and inspect your furnace, water heater, and other gas appliances.

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