If you’re like many homeowners, chances are you have a seemingly endless list of home improvement projects, from the big and exciting – like getting new floors or remodeling a bathroom – to more general maintenance – like re-staining your deck, changing your air filter or getting a furnace tune-up. These projects often come with a cost – some greater than others. So from the ground up, here’s a list of essential home projects that you can accomplish for free (or almost free!) this fall. Your home and your wallet will thank you.

1. Clean and store lawn equipment for the winter. If you have a lawn mower, trimmer or other fuel-powered lawn equipment, check out the manufacturer’s recommendations for storing it when not in use to make sure it’s in good shape to be used again in the spring. If it is recommended that it be stored empty, you might try to exhaust any remaining fuel during its last use of the season. If you have to drain any fuel, do so carefully and be sure to dispose of it properly. Find out what the hazardous waste collection policies are in your area and keep in mind that there may be a fee for disposal.fall-blog

2. Winterize outdoor water systems. If you live in a climate prone to freezing temperatures, take steps to avoid flooding caused by frozen pipes by properly preparing any outdoor plumbing. This includes winterizing irrigation systems, like sprinklers, and even more simple tasks like emptying and removing hoses from outdoor faucets. You might even invest in a faucet cover, which you can typically pick up for only a few dollars.

3. Caulk around windows and doors. To help prevent excess heat from escaping and water from entering your home this winter, consider caulking (or re-caulking) the seams around your windows and doors. Depending on your particular needs for your home, you may be able to get caulk and a caulk gun for about $10.

Note: While this is a helpful exercise, don’t forget to consider other areas of your home like the basement or attic, where more significant air leakage may be occurring, but for which the fix may be less simple.

4. Check and clean out gutters. Over time, especially in the fall, gutters can become clogged with leaves and other debris, preventing water from draining properly. Combine that with freezing temperatures and you have a recipe for cracked gutters and ice dams. Take some time to (carefully) clean out your gutters, replacing damaged ones as needed. If you want to prevent debris from filling your gutters in the first place, you can purchase and install gutter guards or screens starting at just a few dollars per yard.

5. Check roof for damage. If you are able, carefully check your roof for any visible signs of damage. And if you’ve already noticed leaks, get them repaired as soon as possible. It will be more difficult – not to mention more dangerous – to replace shingles or make repairs once the weather turns icy.

Castle & Cooke Mortgage, LLC® (NMLS #1251) is a leading independent mortgage lender headquartered in Salt Lake City, Utah, with locations across the United States.