Fall is a great time for homeowners to tackle important maintenance items in and around the house. Doing these tasks will help them protect their investment, too!

1) Caulk and seal around exterior door and window frames. Look for gaps where pipes or wiring enter the home and seal those as well. No heat can escape from these openings, but water can enter and cause mold problems and even structural damage. Good sealing will also keep out insects, mice and other unwanted critters.

2) Clear gutters of leaves, sticks and other debris now and after leaf fall. If the gutters can accommodate them, leaf screens can be real time savers and prevent clogging. Check the joints between sections of gutter, as well as between the gutter and downspouts, and make any necessary repairs

3) Using binoculars, check the roof for missing or damaged shingles. Water, wind, ice and snow can cause serious damage to a vulnerable roof, leading to a greater chance of further problems inside the home. If issues are spotted, have a qualified professional inspect and repair the roof.

4) In cold-weather climates, drain garden hoses and store them indoors for protection from the elements. Shut off outdoor faucets and make sure exterior pipes are drained of water. Faucets and pipes can freeze and burst, causing leaks and increasing the potential for water damage.

5) Have wood-burning fireplaces and chimneys professionally inspected and cleaned before use this season. Creosote, a byproduct of wood burning, can build up to dangerous levels and cause a chimney fire that can spread to the rest of the house.

6) Gas fireplaces should be inspected for proper venting and operation. Check glass doors for cracks and don’t use the fireplace if the glass is damaged.

Have the furnace inspected to ensure that it’s safe and in good working order. Many utility companies will provide basic, no-cost furnace inspections to their customers, but schedule early as there can be a long waiting list as the weather cools down. Replace disposable furnace filters or clean the permanent type according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Using a clean filter will help the furnace run more efficiently, saving money and energy.