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Easier Home Maintenance This Fall

Tips for fixing, cleaning and tightening things up to prevent winter damage and save money, too

Fall Home Maintenance Tips

— plairpicture/Corbis

Autumn may beckon with beautifully colored leaves and apple-crisp days, but any homeowner knows it’s also the time of year for preventive maintenance that guards your house against winter’s bluster. If you’d like to spend more time enjoying autumn’s splendor and less time on chores, here are several laborsaving ways to make short work of your annual upkeep routine.

Stop air leaks cold
If your house is buttoned up against fall’s cooling temps but you still notice chilly drafts and cold floors, you probably have air leaks around your windows and doors. Even added insulation and a high-efficiency furnace can’t keep your rooms warm if outside air is sneaking in through gaps and cracks in your home’s exterior. In fact, the federal government’s Energy Star program cites air leaks as a primary cause of heat loss, which can cost you up to 10 percent of your annual heating bill.

The remedy? A couple of tubes of top-quality, exterior-grade caulk should solve the problem for years to come. Choose acrylic latex caulk ($5 for a 10-ounce tube) that’s formulated for windows and doors and has a 30-year guarantee. Seal cracks and gaps on a warm day to ensure good adhesion.
 
Tip: You can pinpoint leaks fast by conducting your own energy audit. Working inside your home, take a stick of incense (make sure it’s a scent you can tolerate) and slowly wave the lit stick near the casing around the perimeter of windows and exterior doors. If the smoke wavers, you’ve spotted an air leak. Note the location, and caulk around the exterior trim. Have an air leak under the door? Replace the threshold gasket if it’s worn, or buy a thicker gasket if there’s a gap.

Guard your gutters
In the fall, cleaning gutters is a must to prevent clogs, backups and winter ice dams. But keeping gutters free of debris is a tricky 

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