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5 home projects to do now to prep for winter

Clearing leaves from the gutters can help prevent

Clearing leaves from the gutters can help prevent costly water damage. Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto/TNS/Katarzyna Bialasiewicz

Home improvement projects may not be the first things on your to-do list this fall, but you may want to add a few items to that list to help prepare your home for the chillier months approaching.

Steve Wadlington, president of WIN Home Inspection, shared five home improvement chores homeowners should tackle this fall to help make their homes more efficient and more capable of withstanding whatever the winter throws at them. Bonus: Taking care of these tasks now can help save you money on winter energy bills.

If you're relatively handy, you can handle many these checkups yourself; if not, have a trusted home repair pro (ask neighbors for recommendations) come out and take a look. The process should be quick and easy, and if any repairs are needed, you can start coordinating them ASAP.

1. Check your roof

The summer's sun exposure — plus general wear and tear since the last time you had your roof checked — can cause roof and siding materials to warp, chip and more. Look for any cracks or other damage; it will be much easier to fix these issues now than in the midst of winter if your roof starts to leak or is otherwise damaged.

2. Sweep the chimney

If you plan to use the fireplace this fall and winter, make sure the chimney is clean and in good shape. (And make sure no squirrels or other critters have taken up residence inside.) A blockage in the chimney can cause a fire or other hazards and be an inconvenient mess. Get ahead of any smoke- or ash-related issues by giving the whole setup a good cleaning.

3. Clean the gutters

Yes, fall will drop a ton of freshly fallen leaves into your gutters no matter what you do, but getting ahead of that can prevent water damage and other high-cost repairs. Take some time (or, better yet, have a maintenance person come by) to check gutters for dead leaves and other potential blockages. If there are any, have them cleared them out so water can properly drain.

4. Look at the weatherproofing

Doors and windows should be sealed against the elements with weather stripping and/or caulking. These protective materials keep nasty weather out and the heat in — cracked, chipping or otherwise damaged seals can cause much higher energy bills as you lose heat to the outdoors. Also check that doors and windows are properly attached to their frames, with no gaps or cracks.

5. Examine your floors

Summer's heat and moisture can cause signs of wear and tear in floors, especially if you have real hardwood flooring. Scratched, dull or damaged floors can be sanded down and refinished; more substantial damage, such as loose floorboards or deep scratches, may call for replacement boards.

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