1. Look at your roof
If you have a steep roof or a multi-storey house, stay safe and use binoculars to inspect your roof from the ground.
Look out for warning signs: shingles that are bent, cracked, or missing; rust spots when blinking. Loose, damaged or missing shingles should be replaced immediately.
Black algae spots are just cosmetic, but clumps of moss and lichen can indicate decaying roofing material underneath. Engage a professional roofer for a $50 to $100 evaluation.
A plumbing drain is usually flashed with a rubber collar — called a boot — that can crack or loosen over time. They wear out sooner than your roof, so make sure they are in good condition. A professional roofer will charge $75 to $150 to replace a trunk, depending on how steep your roof is.
2. Target your drain
Look closely at the ground around your foundation and make sure it slopes at least 6 vertical inches more than 10 feet from your house. This will prevent water from soaking the soil around your foundation, which can lead to cracks and leaks.
Make sure the ground does not touch your siding.
3. Check your oven
Make an appointment with a heating and cooling professional to have your heating system checked and adjusted for the upcoming heating season. You pay $50 to $100 for a check.
With an annual maintenance contract, you are at the top of the list for checkups and save 20 percent on the cost of a single visit.
Also change your furnace filters. This is a job you should be doing every two months anyway, but if you haven’t already, now’s the time. If your HVAC has a built-in humidifier, have the contractor replace that filter.
4. Pruning plants
Late fall is the best time to prune plants and trees – when the summer growth cycle is over. Your goal is to keep limbs and branches at least 3 feet from your home so moisture doesn’t drip onto roofs and siding and to prevent damage to your home’s exterior in high winds.
For advice on pruning specific plants in your area, contact your state extension service.
5. Give your fireplace a try
To make sure your fireplace is safe, grab a flashlight and look up your chimney flue to make sure the valve opens and closes properly. Open the valve and look up into the flue to make sure it is clear of bird’s nests, branches and leaves or other obstructions. At the top of the chimney you should see daylight.
Check the firebox for cracked or missing bricks and mortar. If you find damage, order a professional fireplace and chimney inspection. An inspection costs $79 to $500.
Your fireplace flue should be cleaned of creosote deposits every two years. A professional chimney sweep will charge $150 to $250 for the service.