Five Home Maintenance Chores You Can’t Afford to Delay

     You’ve still got time to get your home in shape for winter. If you’ve been procrastinating, you’re not alone. But delay can be costly. Many homeowners are putting themselves at financial risk by putting off some home maintenance chores, according to a national survey from Erie Insurance.

     Here are the five big areas where delay can lead to trouble. Whether you’re a DIYer or prefer hiring a professional, crossing these projects off your to-do list will help ensure you’re safe and secure before temperatures drop.

The Roof

     Twenty-three percent of homeowners say they never inspect their roof or have it inspected unless there is a ­problem. Repair is cheaper than replacement.      Nationally, the average cost of installing a new roof is about $6,600, but prices can soar upwards of $20,000.

     Better to avoid the big bill than the problem. Hire an inspector to check for damage. The fall season is the optimal time to do so, since roofing is best installed when temperatures are cooler. Plus, you’ll catch any problems before winter weather kicks in.

     Don’t it yourself. Roof repair is among the seven most dangerous DIY home projects.

The Gutters

     Clogged gutters can lead to major problems indoors and out, from cracks in walls to uneven floors and interior water damage. This type of damage, called seepage, is a maintenance issue often not covered under your home insurance policy. To prevent any major issues, clean gutters at least twice a year in fall and spring.

     As well as clearing downspouts of debris, make sure they drain away from the foundation.

The Dryer Exhaust Duct

     Does it take you two to three cycles to dry a load of laundry? If so, you may need to clean your dryer vent. One in five homeowners say they clean their clothes dryer ducts only when they have a problem.

     Too late! Lint build-up can catch fire easily. Over 15,000 dryer fires occurred nationwide from 2010 to 2014, with the majority ignited by dust, fiber and lint, according to the National Fire Protection Association. Avoid this disaster with a thorough cleaning at least once a year.


The Fireplace Chimney

     Nearly half (46 percent) of people who own a home with a fireplace never have their chimneys cleaned.

     Mistake! Uncleaned chimneys are a leading cause of structure fires, reports the National Fire Protection Association. Get the chimney cleaned before the cold weather hits, and have it cleaned annually.

The Sump Pump and Pit

     Sump pumps remove excess water that could otherwise cause damage. Clean a sump pump and its pit annually to keep basements dry and help prevent mold growth and water damage. Do this maintenance project in fall to help protect against heavy rainfalls and accumulated melting snow and ice of winter.