If you’ve been eyeing your home and thinking that it’s time for some maintenance, now would be the right time to get your big home improvement project started. The weather in the fall is perfect for getting this work done because it’s neither too hot and humid nor cold and rainy, which can save you on renovation time and cost, not to mention it’s much safer too. You will also feel good just knowing that your home is winter-ready and protected from the elements.

Not sure where to start? We’ve rounded up some of the most critical home maintenance tasks you’ll want to do before the end of the year.

1. Seal Window and Door Seams

Windows do so much to protect your home from the weather, light, and noise, so they are worth investing some time and money into if you’re thinking of a house upgrade. The easiest way to update the windows of an old house is to replace single pane windows with double panes. It’s inexpensive, and they can easily be fitted into the original frame of the house. For added insulation, you can seal and fill the space in between the panes with a neutral gas like argon, which will also help keep the temperature of your house stable year round. Do this now, and you’ll be saving money on heating all winter.

2. Replace Single Pane Windows

You may be surprised to learn that creditors may be willing to not only work with you to make a repayment plan that’s manageable, but that they may even reduce the amount you owe to a number that’s less than the original sum. This tends to be the case particularly if you have debt that’s more than 90 days overdue. This kind of debt settlement definitely demands a certain degree of persistence and persuasion, so be ready to build a strong case for your financial hardship and to make several phone calls.

3. Get Your Garden Winter Ready

Summer gardening is a delight, and to protect all your hard work on the exterior of your home, you should prepare your outdoor spaces for colder weather. That means spreading mulch around your plants, including trees, shrubs, and flower beds, to protect them from harsh winter conditions. Apply fall lawn fertilizer a couple of weeks before the ground freezes, and be sure to give ample water to plants after their leaves fall ahead of the freeze so they are well nourished for winter. If you live in climates where you can still grow winter produce, make sure your veggie patch is well protected from the wind and pests.

4. Replace Missing Shingles

The middle of winter is just about the worst time to find out that your roof has a leak. That’s why your fall home maintenance list should definitely include an assessment to find out whether any shingles need replacing. As home improvement specialist Bob Vila explains, damaged shingles are just one of the signs that your roof might need replacing. If you only find a few shingles that are buckling, have cracks, or aren’t laying flat against the roof, you can easily replace them. But if you find that there is more extensive damage, it’s definitely worth replacing the whole roof before winter conditions make it worse.

5. Install a Programmable Thermostat

Homes are getting smarter with apps and devices to make them safer and more comfortable, and a programmable thermostat is one you might want to consider ahead of winter. From a comfort standpoint, it means you can easily adjust the indoor temperature according to day-to-day weather. And if you go away for a few days, you can lower it while you’re gone and turn it up ahead of your return so you walk into a warm house. From an energy-saving standpoint, this will make your house more efficient and save you money. Nest Labs, a producer of home automation products, reported that homeowners saved between 10 to 12% when heating with a programmable thermostat.

6. Inspect the Fireplace

Looking forward to getting cozy by the fire all fall and winter? Then you’ll want to make sure your fireplace is up to code and ready to use. The National Fire Protection Association requires all solid-fuel chimneys to be inspected annually because the smoke and debris from fires builds up in chimneys and can cause damaging fires. Schedule your appointment with an inspector before the cold weather really sets in. Make sure the firebox is clear of any debris and give the grate a good clean as well. Now is also a good time to make sure that your smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors have fresh batteries.

7. Get the Indoor Painting Done

If you’ve been contemplating a paint update for one or two rooms in the house, now is the perfect time to go for it. The weather is less likely to be humid or rainy so the paint will dry faster, and a new paint job is a great little facelift for your home ahead of the holidays. Whether you’re going for an accent wall to add a bright pop of color, or you’re painting the entire room, a new paint job is a pretty low-cost project that has a big impact. Complete the facelift with cozy throw blankets, good mood lighting, and a furniture rearrangement to make your home a winter haven.

Don’t let high costs prevent you from getting your home renovation project off the ground. With a home improvement loan, you can afford to update your house and even increase its value. This type of loan is perfect for smaller, but still expensive projects because you don’t have to put your house up as collateral. Approval is based on factors like credit score and employment history, and you will get the money in a lump sum so you can get your project started right away.

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