Fall Maintenace to Do List!!

Fall is your last chance to caulk air leaks, seal roof cracks, and clear drains before the winter chill makes it difficult

Get your furnace or heating system serviced before you need it

More “indoor time” means deep cleaning, carpeting, painting, and checking radon levels

As summer draws to a close and cold weather approaches, it’s time to jump on home improvements needed before winter. Take advantage of longer days and warmer weather to finish up summer projects that could protect your house when storms arrive.

Some repairs—especially those involving your home’s exterior—are much harder to do in foul weather. And delaying them can lead to serious issues. If you don’t fix a roof leak, for example, water damage, rot, and mold removal can cost you thousands of dollars later on.

This checklist outlines must-do maintenance tasks, their priority (so you don’t get overwhelmed!), and average costs to complete.

Begin by protecting your place against harsh winter weather. Make sure your roof and siding can handle the coming rain and snowstorms. Then move on to tasks that lower energy bills while increasing heating comfort.

Clean gutters and downspouts
Controlling where water drains is critical. Clean gutters and downspouts after leaves have fallen but before heavy rains begin. Tighten brackets and supports, if necessary, to prevent gutters from sagging.

Importance: High

Who can help? Gutter cleaning service

Cost: $160 for an average-sized home

Pro tip: Once your ladder is set up to clean gutters, why not hang holiday lights, too? It’s the perfect time, before the weather gets too wet and cold to do so safely.

Make roof repairs
Check for missing or damaged shingles or tiles—don’t wait to discover a leak when water is dripping through the ceiling. See How to hire a reliable roofer.

Importance: High
Who can help? Roofing contractor
Cost: $200–600 for inspection (depending on roof size); get multiple bids for repair or replacement

Repair siding
Inspect exterior siding for damage. Repair any cracks or broken areas to seal out moisture during storms. Use caulking compound to fill narrow cracks around windows and doors. To learn more, see DIY guide to siding repairs or hire a siding contractor.

Importance: High

Who can help? Siding contractor

Cost: $200–400 per job

Seal and repair foundation cracks
Cracks in your house’s foundation can let moisture into the basement, resulting in mold, mildew, or flooding. Learn how to keep your basement dry in this related article: DIY or hire a pro? Your basement waterproofing questions: answered.

Importance: High

Who can help? Foundation contractor

Cost: $2,000–8,000 to seal entire foundation; $100–250 to DIY, depending on number of cracks

Repair cracked driveways and walkways
Rain can seep into cracks in driveways or walkways. When it freezes, cracks get larger, creating a tripping hazard. If you’re handy, you can make the DIY fixes; otherwise, contact a concrete pro for repair.

Importance: Medium

Who can help? Concrete contractor

Cost: $200 for filling minor cracks; up to $2,000 or more for major driveway repairs

Remove window screens
When weather turns colder, remove screens. This will prevent damage caused by trapped snow, ice, dirt, and debris between the screen and window. It will also allow 40% more light into your home. If you have storm windows or storm doors, install them in place of screens.

Importance: Medium

Who can help? DIY or handyperson

Cost: $50–80 per hour for a handyperson (about 1–3 hours)

Cover air-conditioning compressor
When you’re finished with your central AC for the season, cover the outdoor compressor cabinet with a waterproof shield to keep it from filling up with leaves and winter debris.

Importance: Medium

Who can help? DIY or handyperson

Cost: $50–80 for a handyperson

Weatherstrip doors and windows
Seal out winter drafts by weatherstripping and/or caulking window and door frames. To learn more, see How to weatherstrip an exterior door.

Importance: Medium

Who can help? DIY or handyperson

Cost: $50–80 per hour for a handyperson (about 2–3 windows or doors per hour)

Paint your house
Cool temperatures and lower humidity make fall a good season for painting the outside of your house. A fresh layer of paint protects exposed wood siding from winter moisture that could lead to mold, mildew and rot.

Importance: Medium

Who can help? Painting contractor

Cost: $1.35–3.50 per square foot on average; get multiple bids

Seal out pests
When foul weather arrives, rodents and other critters seek food and refuge indoors. Keep them out by covering gaps and filling small holes in the siding and foundation with hardware cloth and expanding foam sealant.

Importance: Medium

Who can help? Pest control company

Cost: $100–350 per visit

As leaves drop, trees begin to prepare naturally for winter. Now is the time to do the same. Store outdoor equipment indoors, protect plumbing from freezing, and prepare your yard.

Blow out / drain sprinkler system and exterior faucets

If you have an air compressor, use it to blow out your yard irrigation system. Shut off and drain outdoor faucets so remaining water doesn’t freeze, expand, and burst pipes. Put away garden hoses.

Importance: Medium

Who can help? DIY or handyperson

Cost: $50–80 per hour for a handyperson (about 2 hours)

Winterize your pool
When you’re finished with your swimming pool for the season, hire a pool service to “winterize it” by deep cleaning, adjusting chemical balance, lowering water level, draining pool equipment, and covering it. This protects the pool and equipment if you live in an area that’s subject to freezing temperatures.

Importance: Medium

Who can help? Pool service

Cost: $125–375

Clean and winterize the gas grill

Keep your barbecue from rusting over the winter. Clean the grill, then coat it with cooking oil spray. If you have room, store the grill in a covered patio, garage, or shed. Make sure to disconnect the gas tank.

Importance: Medium

Who can help? DIY or handyperson

Cost: $50–80 per hour for a handyperson (about 1–2 hours)

Store or protect outdoor furniture
Once it’s too cold to gather outdoors, store patio tables, chairs, and furnishings—or protect them with covers.

Importance: Medium

Who can help? DIY or handyperson

Cost: $50–80 for a handyperson

Store or prepare outdoor equipment
Use a fuel stabilizer to protect a lawn mower’s motor while it sits unused during winter months (follow manufacturer’s directions). In cold weather climates, prepare your snow blower so it will work when you need it.

Importance: Medium

Who can help? DIY or handyperson

Cost: $50–80 for a handyperson

Aerate and fertilize the lawn
Lawns need to be strengthened for winter. A lawn care pro can analyze your soil and prescribe the right seeding, aerating, and fertilizing approach for your yard. To learn more, see Expert tips for growing a lush lawn.

Importance: Medium

Who can help? Yard service

Cost: $50–60 per hour (about $200–350)

Pro tip: “Different varieties of grass and climates have unique care prescriptions,” according to Lisa Stryker of the National Association of Landscape Professionals (NALP).

Compost fall leaves
Weekly raking prevents leaves from suffocating the lawn. But don’t let them go to waste—composted leaves are a good source of nutrients for flower beds and vegetable gardens. Either you, or a lawn service, can rake them into an 8-inch pile and spread an inch each of soil and manure on the pile. Spray it occasionally to keep the pile moist, and mix layers once every two weeks.

Importance: Medium

Who can help? Yard service

Cost: $50 per hour (about 2 hours)

Maintain and mulch gardens
Regularly water, pull weeds, and nurture gardens. To minimize moisture loss and suppress weed growth, spread 2–3 inches of bark mulch around trees and shrubs. Don’t pile mulch up against trunks because it can trap moisture and breed fungal diseases.

Importance: Medium

Who can help? Yard service

Cost: $50 per hour (about 3 hours)

Do fall planting
Take advantage of warm soil and fall showers by planting spring-blooming bulbs such as tulips and daffodils, hardy flowers such as pansies, and trees and shrubs. These plantings are ideal for any location in the US. Consult your local garden center for advice.

Importance: Medium

Who can help? Yard service

Cost: $50 per hour (average $200–400)

Repair fences
Before storms arrive, reinforce or replace fence posts and boards. Or hire a fence service to do it for you. Need to replace a fence? Find out how.

Importance: Medium

Who can help? Fence service

Cost: $400–800 for maintenance and repair

Trim hedges and trees
Fall is the time for pruning trees and hedges or removing damaged and dead ones so winter storms don’t break off dead limbs.

Importance: Medium

Who can help? Tree service

Cost: $1,200 per day for a tree crew (one day is usually enough)

Stack and cover firewood

If you have a wood-burning fireplace, order firewood or—if you’d rather DIY, split and stack it—then cover the stack with a tarp. Price varies widely based on wood type, availability, and delivery distance.

Importance: Medium

Who can help? Tree service or firewood dealer

Cost: $120–300 per cord (128 cubic feet) seasoned, split, and delivered

With the arrival of fall and winter, prepare your home for spending more time indoors.

Clean your chimney flue

If you haven’t had your wood-burning fireplace or wood stove chimney inspected and cleaned by a professional chimney sweep during the past year or two, now is the time—especially if you intend to use it regularly. Otherwise, a tar-like substance in wood smoke, called creosote, can build up on the chimney’s inner walls, creating a fire hazard.

Importance: High

Who can help? Chimney sweep

Cost: $130–375

Pro tip: More than 17,000 chimney fires happen every year, according to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (USCPSC).To ensure your safety, it’s best to hire a chimney sweep certified by the Chimney Safety Institute of America.

Service your furnace
Hire an HVAC contractor to check the heating system, before heating season. At the very least, change furnace filters. See Why you need a good heating and cooling contractor: A homeowner’s guide.

Importance: High

Who can help? HVAC contractor

Cost: $100–300 for inspection and service

Test for radon
When windows are shut in winter, radon—a harmful radioactive gas—can build-up to dangerous levels in a home. Have your home tested to make sure radon levels are safe. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recommends getting radon mitigation, which reduces interior levels of the gas, when they reach 2–4 pCi/L (picocuries per liter of air).

Importance: High

Who can help? Radon testing service

Cost: $125–300

Test smoke alarms, CO detectors, and fire extinguishers
According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), smoke detectors failed to operate in 16% of home fire deaths between 2014-2018. Test and change batteries (if necessary) in smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors. Batteries should be changed twice a year. Also be sure fire extinguishers are fully charged (some fire departments provide this service).

Importance: High

Who can help? DIY or handyperson

Cost: $50–80 for a handyperson. Recharging a fire extinguisher costs $15–40

Bleed” hot water radiators
Trapped air can prevent radiator parts (or fins) from heating. Using a radiator key, screwdriver, or socket set, slowly rotate the bleed valve counterclockwise to release trapped air. Retighten when water begins to drip.

Importance: High

Who can help? DIY or handyperson

Cost: $50–80 for a handyperson

Check sump pump
Basement flooding is often an unfortunate consequence of heavy rains. If you have a sump pump, make sure it’s in good working order before winter arrives. Testing is usually just a matter of pouring a few cups of water into the sump pit to make sure the pump turns on. If you don’t have a sump pump, fall is a good time to install one.

Importance: High

Who can help? DIY or handyperson

Cost: $50–80 for testing by a handyperson. Average cost for a waterproofing contractor to install a sump pump is about $1,200, including cost of the pump.

Clear dryer vents
Remove lint, which is highly combustible, from dryer vents. Not only does this minimize fire hazards, but it makes the dryer work much more efficiently.

Importance: High

Who can help? Dryer vent service

Cost: $90–200

Remove and store window AC units
When you’re finished with window (and room) air conditioning units, empty their condensation bins or trays, remove them from windows, and store them away. Then close or seal-up the window. If you don’t want to remove your window AC unit and you can get to it from outside, wrap the exterior with a sturdy insulation cover, available at home centers for about $20, to protect the unit and minimize drafts.

Importance: Medium

Who can help? DIY or handyperson

Cost: $50–80 per hour for a handyperson (about 1–2 hours per unit)

Turn on the humidifier
Running heaters in winter dries out the air. A humidifier can ease cold symptoms and breathing problems, especially for children or people with asthma, according to the Mayo Clinic. It can also protect woodwork and wooden furniture, which tend to shrink and crack in low humidity.

Importance: Medium

Who can help? DIY

Cost: $50–350 for a humidifier, depending upon size

Change ceiling fan direction
During heating season, ceiling fans should be reversed so that blades turn clockwise, pushing warm air back down into the room. Before flipping the blade-direction switch, turn off the fan and wait for blades to stop turning.

Importance: Medium

Who can help? DIY

Cost: None

As you spend more time indoors (and the holidays near), sprucing up interior areas should also be on your fall maintenance list. Here are a few seasonal improvements to consider:

Clean or replace carpets
Cleaning carpets not only removes dirt and stains, it also improves carpet performance and quality of life in your home. The Carpet and Rug Institute (CRI) recommends professional cleanings every 12–18 months to remove dust mites, pollen, dirt, bacteria, and other contaminants that can be harmful to children and pets. For excessive wear and tear, consider replacing carpets in visible, high-traffic areas.

Importance: Medium

Who can help: Carpet cleaning service

Cost: $100–350

Get window blinds and curtains in shape
As evenings get longer, you’ll be using blinds and curtains more. Fix any blinds that are broken and have curtains laundered, if necessary.

Importance: Medium

Who can help: Blinds repair service or drapery cleaning service

Cost: $35–150 for blinds repair or $150 for drapery cleaning

Deep-clean kitchen
Give your kitchen a thorough deep cleaning. If you don’t want to do this yourself, hire a professional cleaning service. Beyond cabinets, floors, and appliances, your kitchen cleaning checklist should include:

Cleaning refrigerator coils

Cleaning filter in the vent hood

Cleaning and deodorizing your garbage disposal and dishwasher

Disinfecting indoor trash bins

Changing the water filter

Importance: Medium

Who can help: Cleaning service

Cost: $150–400

Patch and paint walls
Strip wallpaper and paint walls. As the weather gets colder, you’ll notice more peeling wallpaper and holes in the walls. This is a great time to patch and paint.

Importance: Medium

Who can help: Painting contractor

Cost: $1–4 per square foot of wall area

Northeast and midwest
In preparation for snow, ice, and high winds:

Remove window screens and replace them with storm windows.

Refresh weatherstripping on doors, windows, and garage door.

Winterize pipes and sprinkler system.

Purchase salt for walkways and driveway.

Make sure you have ice scrapers and snow shovels that are in good condition.

Service your snow blower and get fuel for it.

Clean gutters to minimize icicles and ice dams.

Prune trees to prevent wind damage.

Be sure grading around the house slopes away to avoid water damage and flooding in the basement.

Prepare for heavy rains and strong winds. Be sure to have hurricane preparations in place, especially in coastal areas.

Mount storm doors and windows.

Be sure your gutters are clear and ready to handle drainage.

Keep humidity levels comfortable. For more, see Controlling high humidity in the home: 5 simple tips.

Slope drainage away from the house.

Don’t get complacent about the need for fall and winter preparations—rain and snow can return quickly. Expect cool and relatively dry conditions with short downpours, lightning, and thunderstorms that can cause flooding.

Make sure water drains properly from roofs—especially flat roofs.

Clean out gutters and make sure water drains away from your foundation.

If your home is cooled by an evaporative (swamp) cooler or AC, have an HVAC technician winterize and cover the equipment.

Repair and paint any woodwork compromised by summer’s harsh ultraviolet sunlight.

Replace brittle caulking compound around windows and doors.

In the northwest, battling constant moisture is a top concern. You’ll want to protect your house from constant dampness that causes moss to grow on the exterior or mold to grow inside.

Inspect the roof and siding to make sure they’re in good shape.

Remove moss from the roof and prevent it from growing back. Call a roof cleaning or moss removal service (about $20–50 per square foot) annually.

Be sure the basement sump pump works.

Highly competent pros are available for handling most of the services you might need. It’s a good idea to develop a relationship with local pros who can handle maintenance chores on an annual basis—which will result in more dependable service (and possibly lower prices) over the long term.

When hiring pros:

Get reliable referrals from friends and family

Be sure to check online reviews

Be sure they are licensed, bonded, and insured

Get a quote or estimate before the work starts

Ask for notice of any safety issues or inconveniences that could occur during the work

Get good help—fast
As you ramp-up your fall home maintenance plans, Yelp can help you find and hire highly-rated, trusted professionals. Millions of people come to Yelp each month to connect with trusted home services pros using the Request-a-Quote feature.

Hiring a pro on Yelp with Request-a-Quote is easy to do. Look for the bright red button on the pages of many Yelp businesses, and click it to go to the first step of finding the service you want at the price you can afford.

This feature helps you quickly compare quotes from up to 10 home services professionals. Just request a quote from a local pro and answer a few quick questions about your project. In return, you’ll get quotes from top-rated pros that you can easily compare.