5 fall home maintenance tips: What you don’t do can cost you

(BPT) – While home maintenance may seem pricey, being proactive about home upkeep can save more money by preventing expensive repair or replacement costs in the future — not to mention safeguarding against damage to your home. The hard part is knowing how often and what type of maintenance to do, and where to start.

According to State Farm, fall is the perfect time to take care of many jobs, whether by yourself or by hiring professionals. Here are some top maintenance tasks to help protect the largest investment you have — your home.

1. Check your smoke detectors

According to the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), 96% of homes are now installed with smoke detectors. However, nearly 20% of them have non-working smoke alarms. The NIST estimates that if every home had working smoke alarms, deaths from U.S. residential fires could drop 36%. Why aren’t these smoke detectors working? Primarily missing or dead batteries. Smoke detector batteries need to be replaced at least annually, not just when they chirp. The average claim from a home fire according to State Farm is $57,000. So buy some batteries, and replace those old ones.

2. Trim your trees

Little known fact, you’re responsible for the damage if a tree on your property falls on a neighbor’s house. Or if a dead branch damages your home, it can result in a homeowner’s insurance claim, meaning you have to pay the deductible. For peace of mind, trim the trees on your property every fall. Find tips on tree trimming at StateFarm.com/simple-insights/residence. If you prefer hiring a professional, contact your local State Farm agent and they can help you find an arborist with community roots.

3. Check washing machine hoses

Did you know a washing machine hose holds 70 pounds of pressure? If it fails, it can spray 650 gallons of water per hour into your home. So if you’re away for the weekend and a hose bursts, you may open the door to the equivalent of a 20-foot by 40-foot in-ground pool’s worth of water, which can damage floors, drywall and personal items. Between June 2021 and June 2022, State Farm paid nearly $36.7 million to help customers recover from damage due to washing machine hose bursts, with an average claim of over $12,000. Hose maintenance is easy: Inspect the hot and cold washing machine supply lines monthly, looking for blisters, worn tubing, cracks or loose connections. It’s best to replace supply hoses every 3-5 years.

4. Conduct a generator safety check

A portable generator is handy equipment for when the power goes out, and regular maintenance will ensure that it works when you need it. First, always unplug and turn off all power to the generator. Examine the AC wiring and alternator to clear dirt and debris. Inspect the air intake system and replace the air filter. Oil in your generator needs to be changed every 25 hours of running, or one year unused. When you’re ready to use the generator, take it outside to a well-ventilated area before starting up. Generators produce carbon monoxide from the exhaust and can cause serious injury or death if used indoors, in a garage (including with open doors) or even on a porch.

5. Maintain your HVAC

One of the most critical items to maintain is your heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) system. Regular maintenance helps keep the system in working order, extending the life of the system and saving on energy costs. According to HomeAdvisor, replacing an HVAC system costs from $5,000 to $10,000. To save money and extend the life of your system:

  • Change air filters regularly. Set a reminder every few months to replace filters. Dirty filters can impede airflow and make the HVAC system work harder, decreasing efficiency and increasing energy costs.
  • Schedule regular maintenance checks (spring/fall) from your local HVAC professional. Some HVAC companies and local utilities have service programs where you pay a monthly or annual fee and they will conduct semi-annual maintenance checks. Pros will check the thermostat, clean or replace filters, lubricate moving parts, check refrigerant levels, inspect the condenser and coils and investigate unusual noises. Reach out to your local State Farm agent for a list of reliable HVAC pros.

Take care of your home, so your home can shelter you and your family. These regular maintenance tasks will help reduce the likelihood of unpleasant surprises — and costs — to help give you peace of mind.