Fall Home Checkup: 11 Must Do Tasks


Fall foilage.


In case you hadn’t noticed, the leaves are changing color and it’s getting cold outside.  With fall firmly on my mind, I thought it would be a good time to check around the house and take care of some of those items I overlooked last summer.  Chances are, you know what I’m talking about.  These were all the things I was supposed to do before the weather got cold, the days got shorter, and my motivation when out the window.  Sound familiar?


Prevent your faucets from freezing by removing the hoses.

Good thing I checked. This hose was still attached to the faucet.

(1) Freezing Faucets – Let’s start with those hoses.  Summer is over and I’m no longer watering out in the garden.  With night time temperatures now dipping into the thirties, it’s important to check to make sure all my hoses are disconnected from the faucets. I have “frost-free” hose bibs, but they don’t work if it freezes and my hose is attached to the faucet—the hose prevents the faucet from draining.  That’s important, because frozen water expands and that can split the bib. Fortunately, it rarely goes much below freezing around here so the potential to damage my faucet or pipes is low. However, even Seattle will have the occasional cold snap and in many parts of the country freezing temperatures are inevitable.



You may also want to wrap your faucets to prevent the possibility of freezing.  You can buy molded Styrofoam faucet covers designed to clip on to your faucets, or you can use some old towels or socks, cover them with plastic bags and tie it all on with duct tape.  One other note:  If you know your pipes are unwrapped below your house, this is a good time to insulate them.


It's a good idea to have a couple ABC type fire extinguishers on hand.

My fire extinguishers are due for a check up. It’s been over a year.

(2) Flame Out – When we moved into the house last year a friend of mine was kind enough to set me up with a couple of deluxe fire extinguishers.  The thing is, fire extinguishers need to be inspected on a periodic basis.  Usually that’s a one or two year increment.  If you’ve had them inspected by a professional there should be a tag on them to tell you when they are due for their next check up.  Don’t delay it.  You’ll want that extinguisher to work if you ever need it.


Protect your family-practice fire safety.

Test your smoke detector regularly.

(3) Smoky In Here? – Speaking of fires, it’s also a good idea to go around and check your smoke detectors at least once a year.  Many people replace the batteries in their detectors once a year whether they are technically worn out or not.  Again, you’ll want that detector to function in the event of a fire emergency.


Air filters scrub the air and keep the furnace operating at peak efficiency.

Check your filter and replace it if needed.

(4) Brr! – Note that furnace kicking on in the morning these days?  Did you remember to call for an appointment to have your furnace inspected?  It’s a good idea to do that annually toward the end of summer. If you forgot to schedule an appointment, don’t worry.  You can still call, though it may take a week or two for your furnace man to get around to you since this is his peak season.  In the meantime, you can check (and if necessary replace) your air filter yourself.  Most air filters will slide into a special section of your furnace (refer to your manual if you can’t figure it out).  I’ve made it a practice to write the date on my new filters whenever I replace them.  That way I always know how long it’s been since the last time.  Clean filters are essential for allowing your furnace run at peak efficiency. That saves energy and that means you’ll save on your heat bill. Be sure to check your filter per the manufacturer’s recommendation. Depending on where you live and the model you have you may need to change the filter monthly, quarterly or annually.


Fixing sweeps and weather stripping is easy.

I had a huge air gap under the door because of this broken sweep. It was an easy fix.

(5) – Seal it! – How about those door sweeps and weather stripping?  Are they in good repair?  Air gaps around doors and windows are a huge waste of heat and they’re relatively simple to fix.  If you’re unsure how, ask your local hardware sales associate.  The often have free brochures to show you how.


(6) Baby Your Baby – Putting lawn mowers, chainsaws, or other gas powered equipment away for the season?  If so, add “Stabil” to gasoline or drain the gasoline from the tank to prevent gummy build up.  For more information on taking care of tools, see our post, “Tooling Around“.


Are you ready for winter?

This door has a hidden storm panel that will slide and lock over the screen.

(7) Is There A Draft In Here? – Storm doors and windows can also save money.  My front door has a screen on it attached to a sliding plastic panel.  All I have to do is slide the plastic panel in place to cover the screen for winter.  However, many screen doors have removable screens which can be replaced with plastic panels for better wintertime weather protection.  Don’t wait until the snows start.  As soon as your furnace is regularly kicking on and off it’s time to put up that storm protection.


(8) I Almost Fell On My… – Seattle is always hit or miss with snow.  Some years we get little more than an inch or two and other years we can get several inches.  Still, that’s mild compared to some parts of the country which measure snowfall in feet.  Before the snows hit, check the condition of your snow shovel and stock up on de-icer for your sidewalk, steps and driveway—that way you’ll actually have it when you need it.


It's fall.  TIme to clean the gutters.

Don’t let your gutters back up. Clean them regularly.

(9) Honey, There’s A Lake Outside – Did you check the gutters?  Make sure to clean out leaves, pine needles and any stray debris from your gutters at least a couple times a year (or more if you live in a heavily treed area).  When gutters clog, the water that should be running down your drainpipe and away from your foundation can spill out of the gutter and seep into the fascia boards or up along the rafters in your roof.  Left too long, excess moisture like this can cause significant damage to your home’s structure.  There are a lot of gutter cleaning tools available to help make the job easier. If you have leaky gutters, see our post, “How To Fix Those Leaky Gutters.”


Protect your house--keep your roof in good condition.

It may not be too late to replace that worn and leaky roof.

(10) Hey, It’s Raining Inside – Perhaps more important than clean gutters is the condition of your roof.  If you’re worried it’s too late in the season to redo a worn or leaky roof, you may be pleasantly surprised to learn it’s not.  Of course, conditions around the country vary widely, but a good roofer will be more than happy to help with your problem.  In fact, business might be slowing down for them by late fall so you may get a break on pricing.  Check around and get somebody who is licensed, bonded and can provide current references.

If you have a minor leak, you may be able to fix it yourself with a product like “Sashco Sealants Through The Roof“.  However, unless you feel comfortable with heights and ladders and are familiar with repairs, this may be one job best left to a professional.


(11) Summer Toys – Got bikes, ladders, patio furniture, or tools sitting outside?  How about the BBQ?  Anything metal should be covered with a tarp or stored in the garage for winter.  It’s a good idea to walk around the house and make an inventory of all the stuff you’ll want to put away for the season.



If you enjoyed reading this post, check out our Home Project Tip series.


2 Responses to Fall Home Checkup: 11 Must Do Tasks

  • Connie Nichols says:

    Bob, we replace furnace filters monthly and they are always dirty!

  • bobalot says:

    Connie, what kind of furnace do you have? Ours is a gas furnace, only a year or so old. Our filters don’t require monthly change out–no where near that. I guess it’s a good idea to check your manual at any rate, or check the filters more frequently if you know your furnace requires it. Thanks for the comment.


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