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Fall Home Maintenance Tips

iStock-815972924As fall moves in, do you know what home maintenance you should have completed by now? Are you simply raking leaves and checking gutters, and calling it good? 

 

If you're like the rest of us, you may already feel behind when it comes to getting ready for the next season. Instead of wondering what's being left out, let's take a look at the top things you can do this season to stay ahead of the game when it comes to taking care of your home.

Home Maintenance Checklist

Here's a simple "top to bottom" checklist to keep your home in shape this fall.

  1. Test carbon monoxide and smoke detectors.
    Keeping your family safe through the winter starts with an inspection in autumn. Replace batteries in appropriate devices as needed, or at least twice each year.
  2. Check water softener and add salt if needed.
    If you have a water softener, you know that when the salt runs out you're in for a real chore. Keep up on this task by checking salt periodically. Get into the habit of adding it when needed, rather than all at once.
  3. Rake leaves and debris from gutters and downspouts. 
    The changing color of the leaves can be beautiful. It also creates extra work for us. Each fall, check your gutters and downspouts to ensure your draining can happen and water won't get backed up into your roof. 
  4. Change filters.
    Remember to clean or replace filters once a month, or as needed. Check and clean the dryer vent, air conditioner, stove hood, and room fans. Keep the air moving throughout your home efficiently and cleanly by keeping your furnace filters fresh each month. Your lungs and your budget will thank you. 
  5. Turn off and flush outdoor water faucets.
    Before the snow falls or the freezing temperatures settle in, make sure any pipes that exit your home are empty of water. Water expands when it turns to ice, and can split pipes, causing serious problems after a thaw. 
  6. Cover or store outdoor furniture.
    We all wish we could sit on a patio throughout the year, enjoying the grill and a relaxing evening, but we're not all in temperate areas. If you're in a part of the country that gets too cold to enjoy the patio year-round, it's likely time to put away the outside furniture. Protect your furniture from the elements like snow & ice and either cover it or put it in a shed.  Don't forget about your window air conditioners too!
  7. Inspect your roof, windows, and doors.
    Check your roof around vents, skylights, and chimneys for leaks. Make sure to seal drafty doors and windows. If you added up all of the small cracks where heating and cooling escapes from a home, it would be the same as having a window open. This will also help you save on your heating bill.
  8. Clean and inspect chimney.
    It's a great time of year for an evening fire. Before you start enjoying the crackle of the fireplace, make sure it's clean and safe. Call a chimney cleaning service to take a look. This is something you don't want to skip as a safety measure!

Take good care of your home each month, and your home will take care of you. Stay ahead of the curve with our Yearly Home Maintenance Checklist!

Download the   Checklist

 

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Home Maintenance Tips for Winter

Sure, spring cleaning sounds great.  However, in reality, tackling a long home maintenance checklist all at once can be overwhelming. Rather than letting it all add up, what if you tackled home maintenance a little each season? Here are some ideas for taking care of your home during the winter months.

Tips for Paying Off Your Mortgage Faster

There are several ways to pay off your mortgage faster and save on interest payments. Even better, not all methods require spending a lot of extra money! Take a look at the list below: Make extra principal payments.  You can pay extra money toward your mortgage balance each month or make a larger, lump sum payment on your principal each year. This reduces the amount due on the mortgage as well as reducing the amount of interest that will accrue. Extra money can also be added to the principal payment from bonuses, gifts, savings and extra earnings. Just remember to make a note on the check for the money to go towards the principal! Make one extra mortgage payment per year. One of the easiest ways to make an extra payment each year is to pay half your mortgage payment every other week instead of paying the full amount once a month, otherwise known as “bi-weekly payments.” With these payments, an extra payment is made so that the total number of payments that one makes adds up to 13 payments in a year rather than the 12 that would have been made with monthly payments. This adds up to significant interest savings over the duration of a mortgage. You also want to make sure that if your lender accepts this kind of payment they will not charge you a prepayment penalty. Also verify that the bi-weekly payments are being applied to the principal amount and not the interest. Otherwise, you won't notice the savings. Reduce your balance with a lump-sum payment. Have you inherited money, earned a bonus or commission, or sold a large item? You could apply that amount to your mortgage’s principal balance. Another option is any time you have a month where you have that third paycheck, apply that to the principal on your mortgage. This will happen twice a year, adding an extra principal payment to your mortgage loan. While paying down a large debt is nice, it's not a requirement. Consider making sure you have enough to work toward other financial goals, such as an emergency fund, before paying more on your mortgage. However, there are many options you can explore that best fit your budget. You can learn more about buying your first home with our Get Mortgage Ready Guide below.

Mortgage Interest Rates Up - Is It Still a Good Time to Buy?

You've seen the headlines and heard the chatter - mortgage interest rates have gone up. How long will this last? Will this be a return to renting for people who were thinking of buying a home? Or is it just a small adjustment in the overall scheme of things? 

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