What should you do to get your house ready for fall? The fall home maintenance checklist is an important part of managing your home investment. Here are 17 home maintenance tips for fall, with a special section on prepping your natural gas furnace for heating season.
Fall Home Maintenance Checklist – 17 Things to Do Right Now
Your home is typically your largest investment. This fall home maintenance checklist includes ways to keep your home safe, energy efficient and in good condition.
- Replace batteries in your smoke detector and carbon monoxide detector. These safety devices should be checked every quarter to make sure they are operating correctly. A lot of people change their batteries in the fall, on Thanksgiving, to make it easy to remember.
- Check your chimney for soot and blockages. Burning wood in your fireplace will produce soot and creosote, a natural by-product that can build up in your chimney, causing a fire hazard. Get your chimney checked and cleaned before you start a fire.
- Clean your gas fireplace. If you have a natural gas fireplace instead of one that burns logs, you don’t have the issue of soot build up. But you should still clean your gas fireplace to remove dust and cobwebs, and to check the ceramic logs for any cracks or signs of wear.
- Flush your water heater. Make sure your water heater is in top operating condition by flushing your water heater annually to remove silt and debris. We have instructions on how to flush your water heater in our blog on that topic!
- Clean lint from your dryer exhaust duct. Lint is highly flammable and the cause of 3000+ home fires annually. To clean your gas dryer vent, turn off the gas, then disconnect the dryer hose at the dryer side. Vacuum loose lint from the connection, then use a dryer vent cleaning tool to clean the hose itself.
- Find and fix air leaks in your home. Air leaks around your home can let cold air in and warm air out. And it’s not just windows and doors. Check for air flow at your electrical outlets and light switches, recessed lights and any plumbing inlet or outlet. Also check the gas line from the wall to any natural gas appliance, especially if your dryer or cooktop was converted from electricity. You’ll want to use spray foam insulation to fill any gap where the gas line comes through the wall.
- Insulate your water heater. Water heaters are typically installed in a non-temperature controlled area of your home, such as a garage, basement or attic. Wrapping your gas water heater helps it operate more efficiently. You can purchase a water heater blanket online or at your local hardware store.
- Clean gutters. As the leaves fall, they often pile up in the gutters. Make sure to clean out leaves, pine needles and debris. Clogged gutters can cause rain to back up under your shingles, or cause rain to fall closer to your home, undermining your foundation.
- Check home drainage – The soil around your home foundation should be sloped away from your house. Also check the downspouts where your gutters empty. Downspouts should be extended 3-6 feet away from your home to prevent damage to your foundation. You can easily add downspout extensions for this purpose.
- Clean weep holes. Your windows may have weep holes if they are sliding windows or vinyl replacement window. These tiny holes, located on the exterior bottom of the frame, are an outlet for rainwater to drain away from the home. Plus, if your home is brick, you’ll also have weep holes just above your foundation. Make sure these are not blocked.
- Secure attic vents and soffit vents. Air flow is essential to the health of your roof. But, soffit vents (under the roofline) and gable vents can easily let in critters if not secured properly.
- Add insulation. While checking the attic vents, check your insulation. Insulation degrades over time. So even a home that’s perfectly insulated when it’s built needs more insulation as the years go on. Measure the depth of insulation between the joists in your attic, then calculate the R-value of your insulation. Look up the proper R-Value for your area of the country to see how much more insulation you need.
- Test your sump pump. A heavy rainfall or ice jam can cause your basement to flood. If you have a sump pump for just that occasion, test it now. You don’t want to wait until you need it to find out it’s not working!
- Seal foundation and driveway cracks. Check the foundation and driveway for any cracks and seal them. During the winter cold, water can enter these cracks and expands as it freezes. That can make small cracks grow to a bigger problem.
- Insulate water pipes. Locate water pipes near outer walls, in crawl spaces or in attics that may be susceptible to freezing. Wrap them with pipe insulation now, so you don’t have an issue later in the season.
- Review your roof. Take a look at your roof, either using a ladder, using binoculars, or borrowing a friend’s drone. You’ll want to see if there are any missing shingles or holes in your roof and get that repaired before the winter.
- Get a furnace tune-up. Your natural gas furnace needs a tune-up each year, just like your car. This is both a safety issue and can help with energy efficiency. This is the big one on this list, and may require hiring a professional to make sure it’s done right.
Fall Heating Tune-Up: The Biggest Item on Your Fall Home Maintenance Checklist
Almost half of homes in the US use natural gas to fuel their furnace. If you have a natural gas furnace, a fall heating tune-up should be the top of your list for fall home maintenance. A tune-up will ensure your furnace can safely operate without leaking carbon monoxide. And it will ensure it’s operating efficiently, to cut your winter heating bill.
During a tune-up, your technician will:
- Check for burn marks on the side of furnace
- Check for (and remove) dust and debris
- Inspect the heat exchanger for holes and cracks
- Look for holes and rust spots on your flue pipe (which can indicate your furnace is not burning efficiently)
- Check for blockage in the vent and flue pipe
- Inspect the vent motor and vent pipe
- Check the condition of the high temperature shut-off switch, burner safety switch and flue safety switch
- Check for carbon monoxide leaks.
A typical furnace tune-up costs $90-$120 depending on what area of the country you live in.
You can find out more about how to maintain your natural gas furnace in our full blog article on that topic.
Secure Your Gas Bill for Fall with Fixed Rate Natural Gas Plan
If you’re in a deregulated area of the country, like Georgia, Ohio or Michigan, you’ll also want to take a look at your natural gas bill as part of your fall checklist.
Check to confirm the name of your natural gas supplier, rate and contract expiration date.
If your contract has expired, you’re paying an off-contract variable or market rate. Much like with cable, internet and other home services, your natural gas rate is much higher when you are not on a contract.
If you’re in a contract, make note of your contract expiration date and shop for the best natural gas plan. You can shop online to compare offers from multiple providers at one time:
>Compare Ohio natural gas plans.
>Compare rates for Michigan natural gas