12 Home Maintenance Services You Should Book ASAP, According to Experts
Scheduling winter-preparedness projects early helps ensure the contractor has time for your job. Plus, it might save you some money.
While the days are still long and the temps are soaring, preparing a home for the coming winter is the last thing on many homeowners’ minds. However, with the current labor shortage spanning several industries, waiting until Old Man Winter is on the doorstep could lead to an impossible search for professionals who aren’t booked solid. Plus, waiting until the last minute to tackle home winterizing projects could potentially cost more as well. Keep reading to learn which home maintenance to-dos you might be better off scheduling, well, now.
1. Attic Insulation
Underinsulated attics are a major source of heat loss in winter, which translates into higher heating costs and reduced comfort. In general, insulation pros often are busiest during the hottest part of summer, when homeowners are hoping to escape the heat, and during winter to stave off the cold. According to Angi, the sweet spot for booking an insulation contractor is between August and October, when they have the capacity to take on jobs and you have the opportunity to compare more quotes for the best price.
2. Driveway Repair
Whether your driveway is made of concrete or asphalt, if it has cracks, they’re likely to get worse over the winter if you live in a region where temps dip below freezing. As snow and ice melt, water runs into cracks, and then freezes and expands, making the cracks bigger. If you don’t seal driveway cracks before freezing weather arrives, you might have to wait until spring, as some types of sealant don’t adhere well in frigid weather. The wise approach, therefore, is to tackle the project before weather takes a turn for the worse. You can do it yourself, or hire a pro to do it for you.
3. Chimney Cleaning
Chimney sweeps do brisk business when winter arrives, but don’t wait until then to have the chimney cleaned or you might not find a company that can fit you in. According to Angi, calls for chimney sweeps increase by more than 50 percent in November and December, and a majority of requests simply can’t be fulfilled due to the demand. (Besides, icy, snowy roofs make chimney cleaning hazardous—some companies will not perform services under these conditions.) Soot and creosote buildup in a chimney increases the risk of a chimney fire, and can lead to harmful fumes and smoke backing up in the house, so this is a must-do home maintenance task. The best solution—and often the cheapest—is to schedule chimney cleaning in September or October to beat the rush.
4. Stock Up on Firewood
For those with wood-burning fireplaces and stoves, the time to buy firewood is before the weather turns cold. Not only is firewood often cheaper during late summer and early fall, but you’ll also stand to get a better species of wood, such as maple, oak, or ash, all of which burn slowly and produce ample heat.
5. Gutter Cleaning and Repair
After deciduous trees put on a colorful fall display in brilliant shades of red and gold, they drop their leaves, many of which end up in gutters where they block drainage. It’s essential to either clean house gutters or have them professionally cleaned before winter arrives. Water that freezes in a clogged gutter can lead to heavy ice formation, which can damage the gutter system. Schedule this project as soon as possible after the leaves fall.
Related: How Much Does Gutter Cleaning Cost?
6. Holiday Spruce-Up
Entertaining during the holiday season is a favorite for many, but don’t put off the painting, wallpapering, or other spruce-ups until the last minute. Painting and wallpapering contractors are notoriously busy right before the holidays. Even if you plan on doing the work yourself, it’s a good idea to get it done early, so all you need to do is add the final decorating touches before the festivities begin.
7. HVAC Maintenance
The worst time for a furnace to go out is during a cold snap because that’s when HVAC technicians are working overtime to meet all their calls. Plus, it’s difficult (and potentially dangerous) to warm a home with space heaters. Many HVAC failures are due to simple neglect. Angi suggests booking a professional inspection in early fall, so you won’t have to worry about furnace failure when it’s cold.
8. Deal with Drafts
No matter how good your home’s insulation is, if the house has drafts, you’re not going to be comfortable. Replacing weatherstripping and sealing around leaky windows with caulk can be a DIY project, but if you’re looking to hire someone to seal your home, consider getting on your local handyperson’s schedule by mid-fall. Fees typically run a bit less before the weather turns cold.
9. Roof Repairs
The best time to repair or replace roofing is when the weather is still warm. It can be challenging to get a spot on a roofing company’s calendar after early fall because that’s when homeowners are clamoring to have roofs repaired before the cold sets in. In addition, shingles require heat in order to seal down securely. If the roof is in shabby shape, it’s a good idea to schedule this one sooner rather than later.
Related: How Much Does Roof Repair Cost?
10. Fill the Propane/Oil Tank
The prices of propane and heating oil fluctuate with demand, so you could end up spending substantially more to have the tank filled if you wait until it gets cold. Plus, propane and oil delivery services are often busy when cold weather arrives so that it could be a week or two after you order the fuel before they can deliver it.
Cool-season grasses, such as turf-type fescue and bluegrass, can be overseeded in early fall, giving the new grass time to develop strong roots before going dormant in winter. Late summer and early fall are optimal times to reseed, but if you wait too long, the temps will drop, and germination rates will be lower. Overseeding is an easy and popular DIY landscaping project, but if you’re planning to hire a pro, be sure to schedule the project with your landscaper well in advance.
Related: How Much Does Landscaping Cost?
12. Sprinkler System Winterizing
Lawn growth slows as fall arrives, and grass usually doesn’t require as much water as it did during its fast-growth season—usually early spring and summer. Unless hot, dry temps are in the forecast, consider winterizing a sprinkler system a few weeks before the first frost. Whether you’re planning to hire a landscaping company or you’re going to DIY the task, don’t wait until the last minute, or you could get caught by an early freeze.