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Regular home maintenance is an essential component of home ownership, whether you are planning to sell your home soon, or live in it for the next 20 years.   

Keeping up on the  tasks that keep your house in tip-top shape will payoff big when you go to sell your home – buyers can tell when a home has been continuously maintained, and that translates to more dollars in your pocket. Additionally, while staying on top of things will cost you a little bit now, it could save you a  whole lot down the line, since neglect could lead to big and expensive problems.  

Here’s  are some great fall home maintenance tips, whether you’re selling or not:  

Pay attention to those gutters.  Gutters should be cleaned out at least twice a year, and doing this once  the majority of the fall leaves have fallen is imperative.  Clogged gutters can lead to a back up of rain water, ice dams and possible leaking into your home, as well as rotted fascia boards, water damage to the sides of your home, and foundation problems. Also patch up any holes and replace sections that are worn out.  If you sell your home, the inspector will take a careful look at the condition of your gutters. 

Perform general fireplace maintenance.  Before that first chilly night comes that makes you want to curl up by a cozy fire, make sure to have your chimney cleaned and do some basic fireplace maintenance. Do a visual inspection by looking up the chimney to see if there’s a build-up of soot and creosote lining the walls: reductions in drafts throughout the house, smoke backups or a strong odor in the house are all signs you need to clean your chimney. Also make sure chimney caps are still intact and working to keep out small branches and animals. If you’re showing your home during the winter, a warm, inviting fire will help set a cozy scene for your buyers (just make sure the home is never left unattended with a fire going!). 

Clean and store your outdoor furniture – Early fall  is an ideal time to clean and even refinish your furniture so that it’s in the best possible shape before your cover or store it.  Try these recommendations by Martha Stewart: Clean cushions and umbrellas according to their directions, or wash them using a sponge and a quarter-cup of mild dishwashing liquid mixed into 1 gallon of warm water. Rinse the fabric, and then stand the cushions on their sides and leave the umbrella open to air-dry. Dust the frames of the chairs and tables and sponge down surfaces with the same solution used to clean the cushions and umbrella, rinse and pat dry. Store your furniture indoors, or cover with fitted furniture covers. In spring, your furniture will be ready for use after just a light cleaning. Clean, well cared for furniture will look beautiful in your yard come springtime, and create an enticing setting for buyers.  

Turn off exterior faucets. Undrained water that freezes in pipes will expand and can burst. Start by disconnecting all garden hoses and draining water still in faucets. If you don’t have frost-proof faucets (homes built before ten to 12 years ago typically do not), turn off the shut-off valve inside your home.  Also have your outdoor sprinkler system drained and turned off to avoid freezing and leaking pipes.  

Schedule any indoor painting you need done. The cooler, drier weather is usually ideal for leaving windows open for ventilation. And a quick, fresh coat of paint goes a long way to spruce up your home and help it show better if it’s on the market.  

Tune up your heating system. Have a qualified a technician inspect your furnace/heating system to be sure that it’s clean and in good repair. The inspection also measures carbon-monoxide leakage.  Many HVAC providers offer special pricing if you sign up for bi-annual maintenance.  When buyers come looking at your home, trust me, they will check the maintenance log on the side of your furnace or boiler.  

Replace bulbs in exterior lighting, or the entire light fixtures.  With darkness setting in earlier and earlier, you may have showings taking place at dusk, or even after the sun has set. Since curb appeal (or UNappeal!) creates an important first impression, glowing outdoor lighting will help your home appear cozy, warm and welcoming.  

Don’t underestimate the importance of consistent home maintenance, whether you’re selling now or not–if you do eventually put your home on the market, being up to date on your maintenance and repairs will make the process of preparing your home for listing SO much easier!