Autumn home maintenance: Checklist for a new season

Last updated: January 1

Fall is in the air. The days are getting shorter, the leaves are starting to turn red, gold and orange and the temperature is feeling a little cooler. While you may be ready to enjoy hot apple cider and pumpkin carving, it's also time to prepare your home for cold weather.

Here's a checklist of some important autumn home maintenance tasks to consider completing.

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1. Seal windows and doors

It's a good idea to seal leaky windows and doors to help keep the chilly air out and the warm air inside. This do-it-yourself project typically involves rolling self-adhesive weatherstripping (often made of felt, vinyl, rubber or silicone) down the side of a window or door, says This Old House. You may also want to install a door sweep to help prevent drafts coming in between the bottom of the door and the threshold.

2. Check the roof

You should periodically inspect your roof or hire a professional to do so, says the National Roofing Contractors Association. An inspection may uncover signs of potential problems, such as damage or missing shingles, loose seams or shingle pieces that are accumulating in downspouts. This will give you a chance to have any issues repaired before winter and hopefully prevent leaking or further damage.

You may also want to have your roof inspected after severe weather, such as hail or strong winds, according to Angi.

3. Clean gutters and downspouts

Regular cleaning and maintenance of gutters and downspouts removes clogs that prevent water from flowing away from your house, which may help prevent potential water damage. Leaves, twigs and other debris can also weigh gutters down, pulling them away from the house and potentially damaging siding and trim, says Clogged gutters can also lead to ice dams during the winter, and they are also inviting to insects.

Have your gutters cleaned at least twice a year, says If you're not comfortable tackling this task on a ladder, call a professional.

4. Check smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors

The end of daylight saving time can be a good reminder to check that all your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors are working properly. Smoke detectors should be tested once a month, and the batteries should be replaced at least once a year, says the U.S. Fire Administration. You should also replace smoke detectors that are more than 10 years old.

5. Adjust the thermostat

When temperatures fall, adjust your programmable thermostat (or consider installing one if you don't already have one) to help save energy and money. Setting your thermostat to a cooler temperature when you're out of the house or sleeping, and to a warmer temperature when you're home and awake, may help you save money on your heating bills, according to

6. Care for the lawn

A little yard work in the fall can help prevent damage to grass during the cold winter temperatures and help build a healthy lawn next spring. You can help encourage root growth and get your grass green up quickly in the spring by fertilizing in the autumn, says This Old House.

You may also want to consider mulching leaves with your lawn mower, says This can help provide your lawn with nutrients that will help keep it healthy. If you don't have a mower with a mulch setting or prefer to have a cleaner looking lawn, be sure to rake the leaves so they don't smother the grass, says

7. Inspect and clean the fireplace chimney

Before you start dreaming of a warm fire, the National Fire Protection Association recommends having a professional chimney sweep clean and inspect your fireplace and chimney. Even if you have a gas fireplace, the Chimney Safety Institute of America recommends the chimney and flue are inspected for any blockages that could cause a chimney fire. Also, a professional should check the gas lines and vents for leaks and repair them, if needed.

8. Keep firewood dry

Whether you enjoy evenings by the fireplace or weekends around your fire pit, there are a few tips to keep in mind about firewood. Start fires with clean newspaper or dry kindling, and add only seasoned wood (which means it has been dried properly) to the fire, says the Environmental Protection Agency. Firewood should be stacked under a cover until you are ready to burn it, says Cornell Cooperative Extension of Rensselaer County. Also, insects and rodents like to make themselves at home near woodpiles, so it's a good idea to store your firewood at least 30 feet from your home.

9. Clean and store lawn equipment

Before storing lawn equipment for the winter, rinse shovels, rakes and other hand tools, and brush off any dirt with a brush, says the DIY Network. Remove any remaining fuel from your lawn mower. The DIY Network also recommends removing spark plugs from the mower before you put it away for the winter.

While the autumn weather may still be warm enough to enjoy some time outdoors, it's a good time to get your home ready for winter, too. Tackling these autumn home maintenance tasks may give you some peace of mind that your home is in good shape and ready for the cold winter months.