Fall Home Maintenance Checklist


fall home maintenace - technician checking the furnace

Fall is time to batten down the hatches before old man winter comes to call. Depending on where you live in the country, your maintenance may vary a bit. While snow can happen in all 50 states, in some states it’s pretty darn rare. Louisiana, Florida and Hawaii are the least likely states to get snow, while New York, Wyoming and Vermont top the list – check your state. But surprise storms do occur, even in the south. And the toll that winter takes on your house and yard isn’t limited to snow: winter cold snaps, freezing rain, harsh winds, hail and ice can also cause damage so it’s good to prepare now while the weather is mild. And don’t forget that hurricane season continues through November!

Check out our prior post on Winterizing: Money saving ideas for heating your home – something to think about over the autumn months. We’ve also compiled a checklist of other tasks to tackle before the colder weather sets in.

  • Have your furnace, heating and hot water system inspected and cleaned by a professional, This is important for oil-fired  to prevent puffback.
  • Inspect and clean chimneys and fireplaces.
  • Clean air ducts and vents.
  • Check and replace air filters and reverse ceiling fans.
  • Winterize water pipes.
  • Turn off exterior faucets and water sources.
  • Drain lawn irrigation systems.
  • Check roof and shingles and make any repairs.
  • Take steps to prevent ice dams
  • Clean gutters.
  • Check foundation, cellar and garage for gaps where critters could get in.
  • Insulate doors and windows to prevent drafts.
  • Test smoke and CO2 detectors; replace batteries.
  • Check and repair walkways, stairs, driveways.
  • Check and repair garage doors.
  • Clean outdoor pools and prep or cover for the winter.
  • Store or cover outdoor furniture and grills.
  • Bring in summer yard equipment.
  • Cover air conditioners.
  • Check and repair outdoor lighting.
  • Clean the clothes dryer to prevent fires.
  • Check and test winter equipment such as your snowblower.
  • Ensure you have shovels, sand, ice scrapers on hand.
  • Stock up on firewood if you have a fireplace or stove. Here are good tips for storing firewood.
  • Review your homeowners policy to understand what it covers. Have a talk with your independent insurance agent to address any gaps.
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Fall foliage planner: find the best times and places to enjoy the season


colorful gall foliage by a lake

Plan the best of the foliage season this year with an interactive fall foliage map from SmokeyMountains.com. The national map offers a slider so you can search by date to see where and when has reached minimal change, partial, near peak, peak or past peak across the nation from September through November. It also includes interesting information about why leaves change colors.

And here are some suggestions of where to get the best views.

New England foliage and autumn activities

Of course, those of us who live in New England are a little snobby about our status as a prime fall destination and foliage viewing point. From Yankee Magazine, find a New England foliage map, as well as links to articles on the best seasonal things to do, from festivals and fairs to places and driving routes:

  • 10 Places to Visit in New England in Fall
  • Favorite Fall Foliage Drives in New England
  • Best Corn Mazes in New England
  • Best Apple Orchards in New England
  • Fall Foliage Train Tours
  • 5 Best Pumpkin Festivals in New England
  • 12 New England Fairs to Visit This Fall

Yankee also offers a free Yankee Magazine’s Ultimate Guide to Autumn in New England, one of many free New England Guides. Also see Town & Country for their picks of 14 Incredible Spots to See Fall Foliage Across New England

As you’re out on the roads leaf-peeping, visiting apple orchards or commuting to-and-from work this autumn, keep a sharp eye out: The likelihood of striking a deer more than doubles in the fall. Your normal odds of a ruminant-related collision claim are about 1 in 169, but the likelihood more than doubles during October, November and December. See our post: Watch the roads: Autumn is peak deer-vehicle collision season

Florida in the Fall
For our agents, clients and friends in Florida, while the foliage may not be quite as brilliant, you can indeed enjoy the change of season in the great outdoors through wonderful trails, scenic highways, beaches, festivals and fairs. Here are some suggestions:

These suggestions should give you some good options. One more thing: When you’re on the road, it’s always a good idea to have your local insurance agent’s name and number with you in case any mishaps occur on the road. Make sure you have your independent insurance agent’s info in your phone contacts listing!

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Time to prep that swimming pool for safety!


little girls in the swimming pool

Is it too early to think about going swimming yet? We’ve certainly earned warm weather after a snowy, chilly start to spring. Swimming season can’t be far away!

But if you own a backyard pool, whether of the in-ground or above-ground variety, you know that before the fun starts there’s some work to do. Your pool needs to be in swimsuit-shape, too!

A call to your local swimming pool service will do some of the work for you – their trained technicians can clean, fill, and maintain your pool. But there are a host of issues involved with pool ownership that you, the pool owner, will need to consider.

Some of those issues regard insurance. If you’ve just installed a new swimming pool or purchased your first property with a swimming pool, you might not be aware of the implications of swimming pool ownership.

Familiarize yourself with local standards regarding swimming pools to make sure you are in compliance. Certain municipalities may require fencing, locked gates, decks, and accessible pool safety equipment.

You’re also going to need insurance. Call your local insurance agent and ask her to lay out the different kinds of insurance available. Swimming pools are considered an “attractive nuisance” by the insurance industry and they will increase your liability. So upping your liability insurance is generally a good idea. Consider an umbrella liability policy for extended coverage. Make sure your coverage includes the cost to repair or replace the swimming pool should it be damaged in a natural disaster.

There are simple steps you can take to make your swimming pool safer and reduce your risk. Create a barrier to prevent unauthorized access to your pool. A wall, a fence, locked gates, alarms on doors leading to the pool – all of these measures will help to dissuade uninvited guests from taking a quick dip.

It’s also good to know some details about your swimming pool. Know how to remove and change pool filters, and how to shut the pumps off in an emergency. Know how to install, clean, and maintain drain covers. Enroll yourself and your family members in a water safety class and teach your children to swim as soon as possible.

There’s lots of good suggestions regarding pool safety out there. Here’s a good place to start: PoolSafety.gov. Also, The National Swimming Pool Foundation offers a reasonably-priced 2-hour online training on Home Pool Essentials that comes with a 30-page guide.

Choose the right seat: It’s Child Passenger Safety Week


illustration of child car safety seats for child safety passenger week

If you have a child between the ages of 1 and 13 or know someone who does, listen up: This week  – September 17-23 is Child Passenger Safety Week – sponsored by the the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). Car crashes are a leading cause of death for children ages 1 to 13, but many deaths and injuries can be prevented by the proper use of car seats, boosters and seat belts. A lot of attention is given to infant car seat, but as children grow, how they sit in your car will change. That’s why it’s so important to make age and size adjustments and choose and use the right car seat correctly every time your child is in the car.

This NHTSA site offers valuable help and resources for choosing the right seat. Learn to:

  • Choose the right seat. Learn the difference between rear-facing seat, forward-facing, boosters and belts.
  • Find the car seat that fits your child’s current size and age and get age-based recommendations
  • Use the Car Seat Finder, an easy-to-use tool that compares seats and ease-of-use ratings to help find the right car seat for your child.
  • Learn tips to install and anchor seats correctly
  • Find out where to get your car seat inspected by a certified technician
  • Register your car seat to receive important safety updates
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If it’s May, it must be National Bicycle Month! Is your bike road ready?


bicycle month

There are a few sure signs of spring – the swallows return to Capistrano, the trees begin to bud, and you see more bicycles on the road. To kick off the season, May is National Bike Month – time to get your bike tuned up so you can participate in Bike to School Day on May 10, Bike to Work Week from May 15-19 and Bike to Work Day on May 19!

And as part of our spring ritual, we like to gather some good resources for everything you need to know to have bike ship-shape and road-ready for the good weather ahead.

Popular Mechanics offers a handy pictorial guide to 9 things to do to check your bicycle for spring.

Check out our prior post on ensuring you get the right fit on bike helmets — particularly important for kid riders. We sourced some excellent guides to get you up to speed on bike helmet safety.

Don’t let your season be ruined by theft. Check out our posts on protecting your bicycle from bike thieves and get the scoop on what you need to know about insurance for your bike to protect your investment.

It’s also a good idea to brush up on bicycle safety – a 2014 report on biking fatalities shows the high risk groups and problems that can occur. Bike safety is important for everybody but particularly important for kids – check out these handy resources.

See our 2016 Bike Month tool kit post for links to bike clubs in New England and some helpful videos for prepping your bike for the season.