Cooler temperatures and pretty soon falling leaves serve as a reminder that the fall season is fast approaching. As the seasons change, so do our activities and home needs. A bit of attention now will save costly repairs and aggravation later.

Man cleaning the gutter

Here are some things you should pay attention to before Fall arrives.

Get your mind in the gutters. Your roof’s drainage system annually diverts thousands of gallons of water from your house’s exterior and foundation walls. Clogged gutters can lead to damaged exterior surfaces and to water in your basement.

Cover any air leaks. A home with air leaks around windows and doors is like a coat left unbuttoned. Gaps in caulk and weather-stripping can account for a 10% of your heating bills, according to the U.S. Department of Energy

Fix roof problems. Inspect your roof from top to bottom, using binoculars if necessary. Check ridge shingles for cracks and wind damage. Look for damage to metal flashing in valleys and around vents and chimneys. Scan the entire roof for missing, curled, or damaged shingles. Look in your gutters for large accumulations of granules, a sign that your roof is losing its coating; expect problems soon. Finally, make sure your gutters are flowing freely.

Repair damaged walkways and driveways. Damaged walkways, driveways and steps are a hazard year round, but their dangers are compounded when the weather turns icy. Look for cracks more than 1/8-inch wide, uneven sections, and loose railings on steps. Check for disintegration of asphalt, or washed-out materials on loose-fill paths.

Chill out. If you live in an area with freezing weather, take steps to ensure that outside faucets  and in ground irrigation systems don’t freeze and burst.Close any shut-off valves serving outside faucets, then open the outside faucet to drain the line.

Freshen your filter. Furnace filters trap dust that would otherwise be deposited on your furniture, woodwork, and so on. Clogged filters make it hard to keep your home at a comfortable temperature, and can serious increase your utility bills. A simple monthly cleaning is all it takes to keep these filters breathing free and clear.

Give your furnace a physical. Once a year, it’s a good idea to have your heating system inspected by a professional. To avoid the last-minute rush, consider scheduling this task in early fall, before the heating season begins.