5 Must-Do Fall Tasks for Homeowners

By Barbara Pronin

Despite lingering warm weather in many parts of the country, the calendar tells us fall is here, which means it's time to prepare our homes and yards for winter's onslaught.

"If you live in an area where winter brings snow, it is especially important to be prepared," noted consumer advocate Tim Parker at Investopedia.com. "Even in milder climates, there should be five must-do chores on every homeowner's list this fall."

Parker advises now is the time to:

Clear the gutters - Once the leaves fall, do a thorough cleaning of gutters and downspouts. Clogged gutters impede rain and snow runoff, and could lead to pooling water and possible damage to the gutters and the underlying roof structure. If you don''t like cleaning out your gutters, invest in gutter guards.

Do an energy audit - Sealing areas where the heat or air conditioning is escaping can result in substantial savings over time, as even the smallest leaks add up. You can do an energy audit yourself by examining for cracks or separations in doors and windows where you can see daylight coming through. In some areas, utility companies may provide free energy audits.

Trim trees - Have your trees trimmed every few years to assure that accumulated ice or rain doesn''t cause a dead branch to fall onto your roof. Once the leaves fall and you can see the branches clearly, look for larger-sized branches that might fall onto your roof or a neighbor''s.

Test your home generator - If you live in an area with extreme weather or have medical or other essential devices that require electricity, investing in a home generator might be wise. If you have one, test it, along with your snow blower, to be sure it is working. Also check extension cords for signs of wear and repair or replace them if required.

Clean and inspect your yard - Aside from raking the leaves, check the foundation of your home. It should be built up so that water flows away from your home. Also, disconnect hoses that won?t be needed for a while and store them in the garage, and replace any outside light bulbs that are burnt out.