The days are starting to get shorter, the nights are getting cooler, and leaves are going to start falling from the trees. Fall is just around the corner. Now’s the time to finish up any pre-winter maintenance projects and get your home and yard ready.

Take care of these 10 tasks to get your home clean, safe, warm and cozy for the cool days to come.

1. Clean/Inspect Gutters

A few hours of work can prevent big problems later. Clear out leaves so gutters flow smoothly.  If you have box gutters (built-in gutters) ensure the painted surface, if they are galvanized steel, is kept up to date. It does not have to be every day, but proper maintenance is necessary for any gutter system to perform its duty, but with built-ins, trapped, standing water can lead to a shorter life and very costly repairs.

2. Check Chimney/Roof Condition

While you are cleaning gutters, visually inspect your roof for damaged shingles, flashing or vents. Check the chimney for any missing mortar and repair it by tuck-pointing, if needed.

3. Store/Protect Outdoor Plumbing

Drain outdoor faucets and cover them to protect them from the freezing weather to come. Store any outdoor hoses indoors to extend their longevity as any remaining water left in the hose may cause them to crack.

4. Clean/Prep Outdoor Furniture

You may still be using your outdoor furniture for those beautiful fall nights around the fire pit but go ahead and clean them, so they are ready for storage over the winter.  Consider investing in outdoor furniture covers if you do not have space to store indoors.

5. Plant Spring Bulbs & Mulch

Plant spring blooming bulbs in October or as soon as the soil has cooled down for beautiful spring yard.  Also consider an additional round of mulch as mulching around plants in autumn has all kinds of benefits, from preventing soil erosion to suppressing weeds to protecting plants from moisture loss and shifts in temperature.

6. Schedule a Furnace Tune-Up

Consider getting your furnace professionally serviced in time for the cold season. At a minimum, replace the furnace filter before you start using it daily.

7. Inspect/Clean the Fireplace

Proper fireplace maintenance is always essential. Keeping your chimneys clean and clear – including the flues, smoke chambers, dampers and vents – is the best way to ensure your fireplace is ready for immediate use once the first cold snap hits.

The National Fire Protection Association recommends all homeowners have professional chimney cleaning done annually and before you light the first fire of the season. If you use your fireplace more often than average, home maintenance experts recommend a good cleaning after every 60 to 80 fires.

8. Check Weatherstripping & Caulk Around Doors and Windows

Inspect your windows and doors for any signs of drafts that can cost you money on energy bills.  Consider replacing weatherstripping and/or re-caulking around windows and doors as needed.

9. Clean Windows & Blinds

Try to accentuate as much natural light as you can by cleaning windows and blinds.  This is sure to be a mood booster as the days get darker, you will certainly want to invite as much natural light as you can to make your home feel cozier.

10. Home Safety

Remember to replace batteries in your smoke alarms, carbon monoxide detectors and ensure that they are operational, as the clocks turn back. 

Now is also a great time to examine your home fire extinguisher to ensure it is not expired.  Should you not have one at home, consider investing in one as you will be thankful you have it when and if needed.

Now bring on all the pumpkin-spice lattes! You deserve it!