While the weather may not feel fall-like in Southeastern Wisconsin during the last weeks of September, the shorter days and changing color of the leaves are a sure indication of the change in seasons. As all homeowners know, the time of year is approaching to make that annual fall home check list and tackle any necessary projects to safeguard your valuable investment before the winter elements invade.

Custom-built homeowners are equally susceptible to many problems that can occur as a result of the melt/thaw cycle and severe elements that come with Wisconsin winters. Planning early in the fall to address any maintenance issues and schedule necessary appointments for professional help will provide both peace of mind and ensure your luxury custom home is fully prepared to withstand any surprises mother nature may throw your way.

A few key areas to address, all worthy of reminders:

Gutters: spring and fall cleaning of gutters are important to ensure they are doing their job. Designed to keep water flow away from the joints and foundation of the home, areas most susceptible to water entering the house, gutters need to be regularly cleaned, particularly in homes with heavily wooded properties. Accumulation of leaves and twigs happen quickly and need to be regularly monitored to avoid potential damage to the gutters, downspouts due to the weight, and even worse residual damage to the home’s structure itself.

Windows: even new windows and framing are susceptible to damage caused by the ever-changing harsh elements. While newly constructed luxury homes are less likely to need attention, it is always a good idea to inspect in the fall for any cracks, warping or sealing issues that may cause drafts or moisture build-up, which may lead to more expensive energy costs or repairs down the road.

Chimneys: yearly chimney inspections are always advised for homes of any age, as usage frequency as well as variations of wood type that has been burned over the past year will affect the creosote build-up within. Additionally, cracks can occur at any time, compromising the structure of the chimney as well as increasing the potential for fires within the chimney. And lastly, before the “heavy fire burning” season begins, chimneys should certainly be clear of any uninvited occupants that found their way inside to build nests.

Pipes: Any pipes exposed on the exterior of the house should be properly wrapped to protect from freezing conditions. Wrapping with either insulation sleeves or heat tape will reduce the chances of the water inside (both plastic and metal pipes) freezing and bursting. As an added safeguard, pipes should be drained in the event the house will be vacant for an extended period.

Yard clean-up: While the lawn maintenance pros are generally on top of what each of their clients’ property needs are, it is always good to ensure that fertilization, aeration and other necessary pesticide/herbicide schedules are intact. Additionally, any intended seeing or turf repairs should be performed early enough to take root before the winter dormancy. It is also the perfect time to trim tree branches for the health of the trees and safety of the residents.