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Halloween is a time for ghoulish delights, not homeowner frights, but that’s exactly what your home might deliver. And when you have expected guests popping in for treats, you don’t want to worry about the tricks your home might pull – now and in the coming months. So we’ve put together a checklist of not-so-scary fall home maintenance you can do – and should do – before All Hollow’s Eve to avoid costly repairs and safeguard your candy seekers.
After all, these outdoor repairs might seem like witchcraft, but you can complete them all in one warm weekend with time to spare for an apple cider doughnut.
Whisk away unwanted twigs
Banish trees and shrubs for touching your home, especially those rubbing against your roof. Plants help uninvited pests reach and enter your home, and trees can rip up your shingles and clog your gutters, leading to leaks. So cut away unwanted branches, and consider calling a professional to check the integrity of your roof before winter arrives.
Swap out your screens
Hang on to that summer warmth by removing screen doors and windows. This fall home maintenance task will help your house retain more heat from the sun (free of charge), and if you have single-pane windows, swapping out your screens for storm windows can also increase your home’s heat efficiency. You’ll be nice and roasty, toasty warm even when the temperatures start to dip.
Make your gutter and downspout dirt disappear
We can hear your moaning – and not in a Frankenstein’s monster kind of way. But cleaning your gutters and downspouts prevents water damage to your roof, siding, and even your home’s interior. Do it yourself with flexible “wands,” high-pressure nozzles, and even robots! (Just make sure to avoid a nasty – and painful – ladder accident.) Or call a professional who can make all the leaves and dirt disappear, just like magic.
Since winter is coming, you’ll need to fix those cracked driveways and walkways as part of your fall home maintenance checklist. If you leave these issues for the cold months, water can seep into your concrete area, freeze, thaw, and eventually expand, creating a frighteningly costly display. Asphalt driveways tend to be more resilient to this type of cracking but are prone to frost heave (when moisture in the soil freezes and thaws, causing your asphalt to buckle).
You can repair your driveway almost as easily as Ron repaired Harry’s glasses with a scraper, leaf blower, filler rope (for big cracks), and caulking. Of course, calling a professional also gets your driveway magically repaired!
Save your hose
As you remember from high school science class, water expands when it transforms from a liquid to a solid, so you’ll want to make sure your garden hose doesn’t become a victim. Remove all hoses from all faucets, drain them, and then wrap them up for next spring. Turn off all outdoor water, too, so your pipes don’t get too big for their britches.
Prep your lawnmower
Before your lawnmower hibernates for the winter, it needs a bit of work. Take out your mower’s manual (you kept it, right?) and read the instructions. Some manufacturers suggest adding a stabilizer to your gas and a capful of engine oil, then running the mower for a bit. Others suggest replacing the spark plugs, running the engine try, or even changing the oil out completely. You also might want to check your blade to make sure it’s not dull, and if it is, replace it. Once you complete the necessary maintenance, roll that mower away until you spring ahead next year.
Secure your foundation
To prevent water from expanding and cracking your home’s foundation during the winter months, check the land around your foundation to make sure water drains away from the house. The land should be sloping down at least six inches per every 10 feet. Also, make sure dirt or soil isn’t touching your siding. If it is, that dreaded word everyone hates to hear – moisture – might infiltrate and create water damage, so call a home pro to explore ways to save your home from drainage and soil issues.
Carve out some time for your emergency equipment
Prevent a true nightmare by checking the batteries in your smoke detectors and carbon dioxide monitors every month to make sure they’re working properly. Keep extra batteries on hand to avoid disconnecting your detectors for any length of time, and also, inspect your fire extinguisher to make sure it’s properly maintained. Though you might pretend to be a firefighter for Halloween, you’ll want to make sure you don’t need a real one on the scene anytime soon.
Hocus pocus – home in focus
Now that you’re set for Halloween, get up to speed with more fall home maintenance tips and tricks for your home, so you can host this year’s Thanksgiving meal with peace of mind. Personalized reminders and tailored recommendations for home maintenance can help you know what to do and when do it. Plus, with our expert-backed vipTIPs, you can learn how to take better care of your home, so you can use that extra money for a bit more candy.
Originally posted on Oct. 25, 2019; updated Oct. 1, 2021.