Fall gutters

The heat and humidity that define August for most of the country makes it easy to forget that fall is coming, but chillier weather is just around the corner. While autumn does not bring the brutal cold that will arrive in winter, it's still important to prepare your home for the upcoming season.

Properly prepping your home for the fall offers a good opportunity to do some necessary maintenance and check on all the home's features to make sure everything is in working order. The winter months can be rough on a house and completing work on a home before the cold weather hits can prevent small problems from turning into major issues when snow arrives.

Seal it up
The strips of caulk and rubber seals that surround doors and windows are a critical part of your home's energy efficiency. Air leaks in these areas may not be an issue during the summer months, but they can become a serious problem once colder winds start blowing.

If you regularly re-seal these gaps, you'll find that your home holds in hot or cold air more effectively. That can save you money once the weather gets chilly, because you'll be able to run your heater less often and at a lower level.

Stow the mower If you mow your own lawn, it's important to prepare your mower for storage. Cold weather can be bad for mechanical items like a mower, so you want to ensure it will come out of storage functioning exactly as it did when it entered.

The first step is to clean the exterior and remove any grass, dirt or other debris that would potentially mar the paint over the long term. Then, you'll want to attend to the engine. This Old House recommended replacing the air filter, changing the spark plugs and adding new oil. While you're at it, oil any moving parts and have the blade sharpened. All that effort will pay off when you wheel the machine out next summer and it runs perfectly.

Dry everything out
The first freeze of the year can sneak up on you, so make sure you prepare by draining any garden hoses and properly insulating your outdoor water spigots. Otherwise these items can be damaged when standing water expands as it turns into ice.

Clear the gutters
This piece of advice applies to practically every time of year, and you should probably clean your gutters more than once a season. Clean gutters are better at collecting water and directing it away from the edges of your home's roof. That eliminates the standing water that can cause roof leaks and rot. It's particularly important to clean gutters frequently in the autumn because falling leaves can accumulate rapidly and stop the flow of water.

While you're working on the gutters that line your roof, it's also important to take a look closer to the ground. The downspouts that direct water away from your home's foundation need just as much attention as the actual gutters themselves. Make sure they extend far enough away from your home that water doesn't pool near the base and cause structural problems.

Fix the cracks
Cracks in your sidewalk or driveway can become much worse after water seeps in and freezes, so you want to take time during the last burst of nice weather to fix these issues before they escalate. Walk your property and spot any cracked or broken concrete and have professional patch up any problems.

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