A Homeowner’s Cheat Sheet for Fall Maintenance

We can already feel the cool, crisp fall Minnesota weather taking hold which means winter is just around the corner! Cold, wet weather can take its toll on your home, and the costs of repairs can mount quickly if you aren’t proactive in guarding against it. Focus on outdoor and home fall maintenance now to ensure peace of mind during the winter ahead.

As you set about your fall maintenance, we wanted you to have a little cheat sheet. Here are a few things to remember:

Clear gutters and ensure proper drainage.
fall maintenance gutters

With the weather changing, trees are inevitably going to begin to shed their leaves. Those leaves are a likely culprit in clogged gutters, and can cause the pooling of water and worse—costly roof damage. Use a scraper or trowel to clean your rain gutters of leaves and other debris, and then rinse them with a house to ensure the gutters and downspouts drain freely. This is also a good time to check drainage around your property. Be sure that the drains are graded properly around the perimeter of the home so water doesn’t collect around the foundation, causing erosion or leaks in the basement.

Prepare the yard.

Of course, you’ll want to rake leaves and tree debris as the fall carries on. But don’t forget about other routine yard maintenance: trim unwieldy branches, manicure the hedges one last time, fertilize the grass, and remove plants or roots that may impact siding, outdoor patios or brick walkways. Clean and store patio furniture and put the grill away for the winter.

Check all doors and windows.
fall maintenance windows

The seams and weather stripping around doors and windows can leak hot air and drive up heating costs. To check for possible leakage, turn on any exhaust fans in the home (such as bathroom fans or oven hoods), and then carefully move a lit candle around the seams of the doors and windows. If the flame flickers or the smoke shifts, then air is leaking (either in or out). Seal cracks or replace windows as needed. This is also a good time to replace screen doors or lightweight window covers with heavier storm doors for the winter season.

Get heating systems warm and ready.

The last thing a Minnesota homeowner wants to do is turn on their thermostat on a frosty night only to find themselves with no heat! Or worse, no hot water during their early morning shower! Avoid the emergency calls now by preparing your heating systems for winter. Make sure vents are clear, filters are in good condition and the heating system is in good working order.

While you’re at it, consider draining your water heater. Flushing the system once a year removes sediment from the tank that can cause it to work harder and cost more to use.

Focus on fire safety.
fall maintenance fire

Believe it or not, more home fires happen during the winter than any other time of the year. So, replace all batteries in smoke detectors and test them to ensure they work properly. If you haven’t done so already, create a fire evacuation plan and practice it with your family.

If your home has a working fireplace or wood stove, sweep the chimneys. Investigate all vents and flue operation to make sure cold air can’t get in and smoke can get out. Check the chimney cap and caulking between the cap and chimney to prevent any obstructions; birds tend to build their nest in chimneys! And of course, don’t forget to check carbon monoxide detectors while you’re at it.


Get started on these fall maintenance to-do’s early. That way you can kick back, relax and watch a little football as we head into what will inevitably be long, cold winter months!

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