Before the temperatures really drop and snow blankets most of the country, it's important to do a little maintenance on your home. It will be much easier to do now, and will make the transition into winter less expensive and more comfortable. This Old House recently compiled a great checklist of 12 easy things to fix for the Fall that you can do now.
Here are some highlights from This Old House's list:
1. Remove Aggressive Vines: "On brick or stone home facades, climbers with suckers, such as Virginia creeper, pull the lime out of the mortar, creating entry points for water. Vines also hold moisture against walls, which can wreak havoc on wood clapboards, slowing their ability to dry out after a rain and causing rot. If vines get between boards, they can push them apart. Pull all the vines off, working from the top down; cut them at the base, and dig out the roots. To remove any residue left behind on wood siding, do a quick pass with an orbital sander. Come spring, paint an herbicide on any new growth."
2. Add Storm Windows: "Old single-pane windows leak copious amounts of air, which makes for chilly drafts come winter. By installing triple-track storms, you can dramatically reduce air infiltration and protect those lovely wavy-glass panes from the elements."
3. Seal Exhaust Vents: "Exterior vents, particularly those for a clothes dryer or a whole-house fan, allow heated air to seep out of your house, while letting cold outside air in. Swap your dryer's louvered or metal flapper-style vent for a Dryer Vent Seal, which consists of an elbow pipe topped with a plastic cap and shuttle..."
4. Beef Up Insulation in an Unfinished Attic: "Pop your head up in the attic and check insulation levels... In addition to sealing gaps in the attic floor and framing, Rogers recommends upping insulation levels to R-49 or even as high as R-60 for most areas of the country. If insulation is level with or below the ceiling joists, add loose fiberglass or cellulose — even over existing batts — using a rented blower. Make sure the material is well distributed, with no low spots."
5. Install a Solar Roof-Vent Fan: "In winter, trapped heat can melt snow on the roof, which then refreezes, clogging gutters with ice. Water runoff from the roof gets trapped by the dam and eventually backs up the roof, travels under the shingles, and leaks into the house... The trick is to keep the top and underside of the roof the same temperature. One way to do that in unfinished attics is with a solar roof-vent fan that draws in cold outside air through existing soffit or gable intakes and exhausts warm air that's built up under the roof. Powered by the sun, the fan, which costs about $300, further saves you money in summer by cooling the attic so your air conditioner doesn't have to work as hard."
• Read More: 12 Easy DIY Fall Fix-Ups at This Old House
(Images: 1. 1000 Words/Shutterstock; 2-5. This Old House)