Fall is the perfect time for home maintenance. The sweltering summer weather has passed but the uncomfortable cold of winter isn’t here yet. This is your window of opportunity to get your home ready for everything winter weather will throw at it—plus to catch up on other general home improvement projects you might have been putting off. 

Here’s a checklist of what you should be working on. 

1. Mind the gutters. Leaving gutters clogged with leaves, pine needles, and other debris can lead to ice dams and devastating flooding in the winter. There are other problems you want to avoid as well, such as rot and infestations of rodents or other pests. 

2. Deal with drafts. Repair any broken windows and seal up and cracks or other openings in your windows and doors. You can check for drafts under a door by closing it over a piece of paper. If it slides over it, there’s too much space. Use an incense stick to detect drafts by windows. 

3. Furnaces and fireplaces. Check to make sure your furnace is all set to go, before you really need it. Make sure the thermostat is working. Change the filter. Schedule a time to get the oil delivered now and do a test run of the furnace. Check out this how-to video here or this list here. If you have a fireplace you should also be doing the same kind of pre-winter preparation, checking the flue along with the doors and shields. Zillow has a helpful checklist here

4. Smoke Detectors. Winter is the season of space heaters and fireplaces. So it’s a good idea to make sure your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors are all set to go beforehand. Check the batteries and the expiration dates on the devices themselves. If it’s hard to remember to do this, just plan on doing it when you set back the clocks on November 2. (Read more here about what the Firemen’s Association of the State of New York says about the importance of checking your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors.) 

5. Turn off the faucet. An outside faucet left on can cause pipe damage and flooding. There is a right way to do this. Make sure you turn off the interior valve first, let it drain inside, next drain it from the outside, and then turn off the exterior faucet. Here’s a video with more information. 

Other things to do. If you’ve done all that and you’re looking for more, here are some other fall improvement projects you should consider, according to FamilyHandyman.com

    ► Bleed your hot radiators. Trapped air can prevent it from fully heating up. 

    ► Make sure steam radiator vents are not blocked. 

    ► Bring any paint you’ve used indoors. Otherwise, it could freeze.

    ► Winterize your gas grill. This video shows you how to do it. 

    ► Bring in and store your lawn chairs. 

    ► Line your driveway and walkways with markers so it’s easier to shovel or use a snow blower. 

For other fall home maintenance ideas, check out this list

Winter weather brings a range of hazards, from heavy snowfall and ice storms to bitter cold. Fortunately, fall affords us plenty of time to get ready for it while the weather is just right for a bit of hard work at home.