With the summer season ending and fall beginning, the temperature will be dropping and the weather changing. As a homeowner, you may have a routine down with preparing your home for the fall season, however, first-time homebuyers may not know what exactly they should be taking care of. Whether you have a checklist for fall home prep or not, there are some chores to keep on top of that will save you money in the long run.

Check for Drafts

One of the first things you should pay attention to is the performance of your doors and windows for draft blocking. Drafts can wind up increasing your home heating bill by $20 annually per draft area. A simple way to check for drafts is to place a lit candle near the window seams on a breezy day. If the flame bends in any direction, this is a sign that air is moving from the window to the outdoors. While some drafts will be pretty obvious to find, others may be more difficult.

Smoke Test

Another way to detect for hard to find drafts in windows and doors is to do what’s called a smoke test. A smoke test will help determine which areas in your home may need more attention because of smaller air leaks. To perform a smoke test, make sure all of the windows and doors in your home are shut. Also be sure to turn off any combustion appliances such as space heaters, gas ranges, and ovens. After that, turn on the bathroom and kitchen exhaust ventilation systems. Doing so will create negative pressure on the inside of the home which should suck outside air in through what would be any openings of doors or windows. By lighting a stick of incense and placing it near potential draft areas, you should be able to visually tell which areas have openings from the smoke noticeably changing direction by traveling inward.

Caulk and Seals

Another seasonal chore to check off your list is to investigate all areas of windows and doors for caulk and seals. Determine the state of the caulk on the outside window frames and of the glazing around all of your window panes as well. Summer temperature is known to dry out the exterior caulk which can lead to cracking. Cracks allow for outside air to get in and can also lead to water damage as well.

As a homeowner, you’ll notice that window glazing will end up needing a periodic replacement. Aging putty loosens the seal along the glass, and you can tell where the glazing needs to be replaced by tapping on the window pane to see if it rattles.

With the outside of windows and doors, you can look for areas where old caulking has created a space between the window or door and your home’s siding. As for the inside, be careful to inspect the threshold under each door. Spotting outside light shine through or other visual clues should let you know the opening is too big and needs to be sealed shut. Other areas to check for are weather stripping on both doors and windows. If any serious damage found, make sure your windows and doors are quickly replaced before the winter months.