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As the weather turns cooler (and then warms up and then turns cooler and then warms up and …. you know the drill ) in the fall in North Texas, it’s a good time to take care of some important safety and weatherproofing maintenance before winter arrives. These tasks aren’t high on most people’s “fun list,” but they can save you money, protect your investment in your home, prevent unwanted surprises and, in some cases, save lives.

1- Seal Cracks around Doors, Windows and More

Sealing up air leaks that waste energy is one way you can save money on your heating bill. Sealing up cracks around doors, windows and trim also prevents moisture (and critters) from getting inside  your walls — an important and cost effective maintenance job well worth the cost of some exterior caulk.

2 – Clean Out Gutters and Downspouts

The most important maintenance task related to your gutters and downspouts is to ensure that they flow freely. They can’t do their job (and can cause issues) if they are clogged. We recommend cleaning them each fall after leaves have fallen from the trees and again in the spring, to clear away winter debris. If you live in a heavily wooded area, you may need clear them more often.

3 – Remove Fall Debris from Your Roof

Leaves and debris fall on your roof as well, and leaving it there can cause water to back up and find ways into your home, regardless of how well built or how new the roof is. It’s a good idea to do this first (then clean your gutters and downspouts).

4 – Get your Furnace Serviced

It’s a good idea to get a heating and cooling professional out to your home each fall for a heating system checkup and tuneup, before the winter heating season. This is also a good time to change your furnace’s filters.

5 – Check Your Fireplace/Chimney

To get your fireplace ready for cozy winter nights, open your damper to make sure it’s working properly. With it open, look up the chimney for blockages (birds’ nests, branches, leaves, etc.). You should see daylight at the top, free of any obstructions.

6 – Detach, Drain and Store Your Water Hoses

This fall maintenance job is particularly important to do before a sudden cold snap sneaks up on us, which is usually how freezing temps like to visit us in North Texas. Leaving hoses attached can cause water to back up into the faucets and plumbing pipes just inside your exterior walls. When a freeze hits, if your hose is still attached, that water could freeze, expand and crack the faucet or pipes.

7 – Turn Off Outdoor Water

Similarly, turn off any shutoff valves for water supply lines that lead to exterior faucets.

8 – Install Insulated Water Spout Covers

Insulated outdoor faucet covers, at only a few bucks each, are another important and simple investment in protecting your pipes from freezing!

9 – Check Exterior Lighting

Days are shorter during the fall and winter months, so add this to your list: check the bulbs on your outdoor lighting, since you will be relying on them more over the next few months.

10 – Check All Smoke Alarms and Carbon Monoxide Detectors

Finally, check all smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors (particularly important if you have gas or use your fireplace a lot).