Hometown Lawrence: Autumn maintenance key to caring for home

Take steps in the fall to prepare your home for the coming winter.

As cooler weather approaches, there are seasonal maintenance steps homeowners should take to protect their homes, save money, and stay warm in the coming winter. Your home is likely the largest investment you will make in a lifetime. These steps, most of which are fairly simple and cost little to no money, will prevent bigger (and expensive) problems in the future.

Schedule the annual tune-up on your heating system. Heating and cooling systems require ongoing service and maintenance to keep them operating safely and efficiently.

Clean out the gutters after the leaves finish falling. Your home’s gutter system protects the siding and foundation from water damage, plus it helps keep water out of the basement. In the winter, ice and snow trapped in clogged gutters can cause ice dams along the roof line, which leads to water leaking through the ceiling and down the walls inside when the ice thaws.

Take the time to winter-proof your home by checking the weather stripping around doors and windows, plus the insulation in the attic, to help cut down on heating costs. Also consider having a digital thermostat installed, and covering windows and patio doors with a clear insulating film to keep the cold outside where it belongs. Plus, insulate water pipes in the basement to help prevent freezing and save money on hot water-heating costs.

Set up a regular schedule to replace the filter on your heating system once a month during peak usage, or as recommended by your system’s manufacturer.

If you want the exterior of your home painted and didn’t get to it in the spring, now is the time before the temperatures drop too low.

When heating season starts, cover your outdoor air conditioner compressor during the off-season to keep it free from debris.

Before it gets too cold, have your fireplace chimney professionally cleaned. Always check for nests in the chimney and loose bricks or mortar before using.

Replace the batteries in your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors once a year. The fall time change makes a good reminder for this chore.

Autumn is the perfect time to plant trees and shrubs. Check with a local garden center for variety recommendations. Also, don’t forget to plant those spring-blooming bulbs for a colorful flower show when the weather warms again.

Once the temperatures approach the freezing mark, it is time to turn off the outside water supply and store any hoses for winter.

Hometown Lawrence

Hometown Lawrence is the Lawrence Journal-World’s real estate resource section and website. For more information on area real estate listings, go to HometownLawrence.com.