Pumpkin spice lattes and cinnamon-scented potpourri make their return as the season waves goodbye to summer and ushers in autumn.

Communities display harvest-theme decorations, fans rush to Friday Night Lights football games, and families purchase pumpkin everything.

While folks embrace the cooler temperatures and enjoy the fall festivals, homeowners should carve out time to complete a seasonal home checklist. Here are a few home maintenance items to keep your home as golden as the autumn leaves.

Clean Air Filters

The air inside your home should be as crisp and fresh as it is outside. Truthfully, air filters should be changed every one to three months to prevent allergens and ensure your HVAC works effectively. Clogged filters lead to higher utility bills as it requires more energy to cool or heat your home.

Once filters are clogged with dirt and debris, the HVAC system works overtime and consequently may need additional repairs. Additionally, dirty filters are problematic for individuals suffering from allergies and asthma, as the circulated air is full of dust particles.

Replace Smoke Alarm Batteries

At least once a year, homeowners should check and replace batteries in smoke and carbon dioxide detectors throughout the house. Since autumn naturally leads to more baking and likely more candle-burning, homeowners should check that smoke alarms are operating and functioning correctly.

Service Fireplace Furnace

A crackling fire with a bag of popcorn and Sunday Night NFL is an idyllic way to welcome the work week ahead. However, be sure you open the damper, clean your fireplace, and ignite the pilot light (if applicable). For gas fireplaces, many manufacturers recommend annual services so that experts can check the functionality of the gas logs, clean glass doors and frames, and remove residue in the vent, flue, and chimney.

A chimney sweep is also recommended. After all, children want to be sure St. Nick has a clear path to the living room. Typically, this service inspection and clean costs between $150-$200.

Vacuum Vents & Duct Cleaning

The laundry room needs love this fall, too. Cleaning the dryer vents ensures that the appliance works effectively and prevents fires from overheating. Homeowners can do this themselves by detaching the duct from the back of the dryer, removing the lint from the duct by hand, then vacuuming the vent to remove trapped lint and debris.

Some homeowners opt to use an electric leaf blower to “blow out” the particles through the passageway. Finally, remove the vent cover from the exterior of the house and vacuum the area to remove dirt, dust, and debris. Alternatively, homeowners can schedule a duct-cleaning service to ensure the dryer is working properly and safely.

Get The Gunk Out Of Gutters

18th Century poet and novelist Emily Bronte pined, “Every leaf speaks bliss to me, fluttering from the autumn tree.” This peaceful picture is enduring, but unfortunately many leaves do not make it to the ground; rather, they collect in our gutters, which causes clogging and draining issues.

Before the leaves fall this autumn, make sure your gutters are clear of debris. When gutters are full of gunk, it collects rainfall and causes damage to both the interior and exterior of the home. Clear the gutters and watch the leaves flutter!

Inspect Windows & Door Frames

Grab your caulk gun and seal any exterior cracks around window and door frames. Home improvement stores such as Lowes, Home Depot, Ace Hardware, and Walmart all have a variety of exterior caulk tubes so you can easily match the correct color.

Sealing these cracks will help prevent moisture from entering your house and preserve energy, thus keeping your utility costs down.

Fertilize In The Fall

Horticulture experts suggest fertilizing your lawn in the fall because it strengthens roots, ensuring a robust spring.

A common fertilizer formula is 5-10-5, The nitrogen gives a boost to blade growth, the phosphorus strengthens the root base, and potassium gives vital nutrients for cell function. Helping roots get strong before winter is important to prevent disease and promote a green lawn for spring.

Stow The Mower

It’s time to swap the lawn mower for rakes. Your trusty mower has been working overtime in the summer heat. Now she can get ready to hibernate for the winter. To prepare, add a fuel stabilizer to prevent gas from degrading and deteriorating in the mower, which can damage the engine.

Then, run the mower for several minutes (5 to 10 minutes) so that it reaches the carburetor. Another trick is to add a small amount of engine oil into the spark plug hole and manually start the mower. This distributes oil and creates a lubricant that will help the mower start more easily when it comes out of hibernation.

Trim The Trees

Living in a coastal region has its advantages, but hurricane season is not one. Before the season gets underway, trim sagging tree limbs and remove large branches from your yard. Depending on the type of shrubbery, you may want to use shears and cut it back before the plants go dormant for winter.

Cover Cracks in Your Driveway or Garage

Though our southeast regions rarely get freezing temperatures, small cracks can easily turn into big potholes with even one cold night.

Using concrete sealer, cover cracks in your driveway to prevent further damage and expansion. Plus, unsightly cracks in the driveway may turn off potential homebuyers, should you decide to sell your home in the future.

Remove Garden Hoses from Faucets

South Florida residents typically do not need to worry about freezing temperatures, but South Carolinians well remember the snowstorm of 2018.

With freezing temperatures, hoses attached to outdoor faucets can cause water to back up, freeze, expand, and potentially burst the faucet or pipe. Simply unconnecting the water hose prevents this disaster from happening. Experts also recommend shutting off valves for exterior faucets.

Inspect Attic Ventilation

Homeowners will want to inspect attic insulation to be sure that vents are clean and not covered with debris. Specifically, look for leaks, mold and/or mildew, proper insulation, and signs of pet infestation. Bats and rats find their way to small darker places, so be sure screens are intact and not torn.

Hang Your Football Flag

After you have completed the fall maintenance checklist, you’re ready to display your college or NFL football flag. A staple in the south, these flags announce that fall is indeed underway. And since your home is weather-ready, you can host backyard tailgates, pre-Halloween parties, and a Thanksgiving meal for your entire family. Or, you can simply sit by the fireplace and sip that pumpkin spice latte!

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