Fall is almost here. That means beautiful trees, pumpkins, and that unmistakable smell that signals the end of summer and the soon-to-be winter months. Fall also means getting your home and car ready for the onslaught of winter. For those that live in the extreme southern portions of the country, winter might not be much different than other months. For people in most states, winter means snow and freezing, and that can cause expensive problems if people don't take the time and effort to get prepared during the fall months. Here are a few basic tasks to complete before the first snowfall.

Gutters
Once the leaves fall, do a final cleaning of your gutters and downspouts. Clogged gutters makes runoff from snow freeze within the gutters. This is especially true for older gutter systems, and it may lead to the gutters separating from your roof. This not only causes damage to your gutters, but also to the underlying structure of the roof that holds the gutter. If you don't like cleaning out your gutters, invest in gutter guards.

Energy Audit
Do you know where your heat and air conditioning is escaping? An energy audit is the way to find out. Although you can pay private contractors to perform the audit, your gas or electric company might send somebody to your home free of charge. Depending on the age of your home, sealing areas where the heat or air conditioning is escaping can result in substantial savings over time. Even the smallest leaks add up over time. You can also do this yourself by examining for cracks in doors and windows and looking for any areas where you can see daylight coming through. The audit will check other areas like electrical and cable outlets on outside walls.

Your Trees
Have your trees trimmed every few years to assure that accumulated ice doesn't cause a dead branch to fall on to your roof. Once the leaves fall and you can see the branches of your trees, look for any larger-sized branches that appear dead and would fall onto yours or your neighbor's roof. If you knew the limb was dead and it damaged a neighbor's home, your homeowners insurance may not cover the damages.

Your Car
Winter is the last time of the year you'd want to be stranded by your car, which is why it's so important that you prepare your vehicle for the demanding weather. Later in the fall, replace your windshield wiper blades, use washer fluid designed for winter use and have a bottle of de-icer in your car to avoid having to scrape. Also check your tires to make sure they have enough tread. If you notice any weird engine sounds, have those fixed before the cold weather hits. Often small problems become bigger once the winter months arrive.

Your Generator
If you live in an area with extreme weather or have medical or other essential devices that require electricity, investing in a generator might be wise. If you have one, test it, along with your snowblower. Also check extension cords for signs of wear. Repair or replace them if required.

The Yard
Aside from raking the leaves, check the foundation of your home. It should be built up so water flows away from your home. Also, disconnect hoses and store them in the garage. Replace any outside lightbulbs that are burnt out.

The Bottom Line
Very few people enjoy the maintenance that comes with owning a home or car, but even less enjoyable is the bill that comes with repairing something because regular maintenance wasn't performed. If you start early, many of these jobs can be spaced out over the next couple of months.

Related Articles
  1. Home & Auto

    Rent-To-Own Homes: How The Process Works

    A rent-to-own agreement can benefit homebuyers with bad credit or insufficient funds for a down payment. Here’s how one works.
  2. Home & Auto

    7 Must-Have Real Estate Contract Conditions

    Buying a home can bury you in paperwork. But it’s worth your time to make sure your contract contains these seven important conditions.
  3. Investing Basics

    Understanding Real Estate

    Real estate is an encompassing term that refers to land, the buildings on that land, and its natural resources, such as crops and minerals.
  4. Economics

    Understanding the American Dream

    The American dream is the belief that anyone, regardless of where they’re born or into what class, can attain their own version of success.
  5. Home & Auto

    9 Tips for Handling Homeowners’ Associations

    Before you buy property in a community with an HOA, there are nine things you should do.
  6. Investing Basics

    Top 10 Features Of A Profitable Rental Property

    Owning rental property is a tough business. Here are 10 things you should consider before investing in an income property.
  7. Home & Auto

    What to Do When You Can No Longer Afford Your Car

    Life is full of unexpected and undesired events, like layoffs or divorce. Unfortunately, these events can sometimes make your car payment unaffordable.
  8. Home & Auto

    Stormy Winter Weather: Do This to Survive

    Maybe you’ll get through the winter without dealing with a(nother) monster storm, but it’s best to be ready. Work down this checklist.
  9. Home & Auto

    Steps To Buying A Home

    No matter what type of property you’re eyeing, there are steps you can take to protect your investment.
  10. Home & Auto

    What are The Best Ways to Save on Moving Costs?

    Because buying a house isn’t cheap, funds might be limited during your move. So, to avoid additional stress, here are seven money saving tips.
RELATED FAQS
  1. Do mortgage escrow accounts earn interest?

    A bank is not required to pay interest on any escrow accounts (also mortgage impound accounts) it holds for its customers. ... Read Full Answer >>
  2. What are the best ways to pay off my mortgage quickly?

    There are two main strategies for paying off a mortgage more quickly, which can be used alone or in tandem: making larger ... Read Full Answer >>
  3. What are the pros and cons of a simple-interest mortgage?

    The basic disadvantage of a simple interest mortgage lies in the fact that unless the borrower conscientiously makes all ... Read Full Answer >>
  4. Is a waiver of subrogation clause better for a tenant or a landlord?

    A waiver of subrogation clause is good for both a tenant and a landlord. A waiver of subrogation is a two-way agreement in ... Read Full Answer >>
  5. Is the high cost of installing solar panels justified by the money saved by going ...

    In favorable locations and under suitable conditions, homeowners can recuperate the cost of installing solar panels. The ... Read Full Answer >>
  6. If my home runs power off the grid, what is the specific environmental impact?

    Running a solar-powered home with energy that is natural or off the grid has several environmental benefits. By using solar ... Read Full Answer >>
Trading Center