Angie's List: Fall home preps

Fall is the perfect time to make sure your home is ready for winter.
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Fall has arrived and it's a perfect time to make sure your home is ready for winter.

We've entered the last season to prep for winter weather. As we personally get out the heavy coats, our homes need to be winter-ready as well. Your furnace should be your first check-up.

"What we hear from heating and cooling contractors is that the most common reason for emergency calls is because the furnace wasn't properly maintained. Investing in a checkup this fall costs anywhere from $60 to $100 and is money well spent," said Angie Hicks, Angie's List.

Experts suggest you check your furnace filters each month and replace them if needed. A clean filter circulates heat better and cuts your energy.

Your next focus should be on the top of your home. The roof is one of the most important parts of the house, because it protects you from what's outside.

"The easiest way to see if you have a roof problem from interior of the house is to obviously inspect the ceilings. You can go up in the attic and see if you see any dark spots or stains on the underside of the roof itself," said roofing contractor Jim Keffer.

Keffer works for Bone Dry Roofing in Indianapolis. He says some companies don't charge for a basic roof inspection, but replacing cracked or damaged shingles will put you back a good amount. Keffer says one way to protect your roof is to focus on your gutters. All of the gunk that builds up will add extra weight to your home.

"The primary problem, if you don't clean out your gutters is that the downspouts will clog, leaves and debris will get into the gutters," Keffer said.

Also, check for window drafts. Not everyone can afford energy-efficient windows, but you can caulk, seal or use weather strips if you feel a draft. It is one of the cheapest and easiest ways to save on heating costs.

Angie's List Tips: Your home's fall Checklist

  1. Roof: The roof is one of the most important parts of the house because it provides direct shelter from the elements. It's also one of the most expensive and time-consuming to fix. Roofing contractors suggest you have your roof inspected in the fall before winter, and again in the spring, after winter. A roof inspection can help identify potential signs that could lead to major problems – some roofing companies don't charge for this service. Replace any cracked or damaged shingles or roofing pieces.
  2. Gutters: Your gutters are responsible for protecting your roof by removing excess water and draining it back to the ground. It gutters are blocked, water can accumulate on the roof causing damage.  Clean your gutters and downspouts late in the fall season. Leaves can hold water, which in turn becomes ice, adding weight to your gutters and roof.
  3. Service your heating system: Schedule an appointment to service your heating system. A tune up can make sure it's in top working order. Check your furnace filters each month and replace if necessary. A clean filter distributes heat better and cuts your energy costs. Plus, it's an inexpensive and easy task.
  4. Weather-strip windows and doors: New, energy-efficient replacement windows are a high-end investment not all homeowners can afford. There are, however, lower-cost remedies that can be effective - Caulk, seal and weather-strip doors and windows where drafts are detected is one of the cheapest and easiest ways to save on heating costs. Find drafts by walking through your home with a lit candle. Drafts will put the smoke in that direction, making it easier to determine where the cold air is seeping in.

A handyman can conduct an inspection of the home to determine what steps need to be taken to improve the home. They can determine where air is escaping in windows and exterior doors.