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Fall checklist: Tips for preparing your home for the changing weather

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DETROIT – Before the snow starts falling, icicles start forming and the temperature drops below zero, get outside and prep your home for the changing season! 

Fall is the perfect time to take care of the little things that can make a big difference for you and your home. Whether you do it yourself or ‘Hire it Done,' these tips will help you save time and money.

"It's better to be proactive than reactive," says home improvement expert, Adam Helfman. "Most people get their first gas bill and they're look holy moly the price is crazy!"

Local 4 teamed up with Adam Helfman of Hire it Done to go through the ‘Fall Checklist' room by room.

First tip: Insulation, Insulation, Insulation.

"I'll tell you what, if somebody properly insulates their house with the right caulk, you can save a minimum of 30 percent a month on your heat bill."

Check and seal windows. Check the windows for drafts by holding a lit candle close to the window seams. If the flame bends or flickers it is a good indication that you need to reseal your windows. Inspect the caulk on the outside of your window frame. Summer heat can dry old caulking and cause it to crack and break.

"We pay good money to heat our house and that's where we want to keep it," says Helfman.

Service your carbon monoxide detectors and smoke alarms. The cooler temperatures in the fall mean more use on your furnace and water heater which raises your risk of carbon monoxide poisoning.  Test both your carbon monoxide and smoke detectors by pressing the test button and waiting to hear the alarm sound. Take this time to replace the batteries in both detectors.

Maintain your furnace. Make sure the pilot light is burning. If it has gone out, follow the instructions provided on your furnace's access door. If you run into any problems, call a heating and air contractor for assistance immediately. Clean any dust and debris away from the blower and around the furnace itself.

"Don't forget about your filter," says Helfman. "Most people only change them once a year, it needs to be changed every six months."

Either check or replace your filter every 30 days to keep from over-working your unit. It is also a good idea to lubricate the blower motor and remove the flame shield to check the burner for corrosion.

Install a programmable thermostat. Before winter arrives, install a programmable thermostat to save money on your electric bill. A programmable thermostat will allow you to set the time of day your heater or air conditioning will run. Installing the thermostat is relatively easy with the proper tools. 

"Why pay to heat the house when you're not home?" said Helfman. "With a programmable thermostat you can have the heat kick on right before you come home, this will save you big bucks in the long run."

Flush your water heater. To keep your water heater running at maximum efficiency, flush it out once a year. Remember to be careful when draining the tank; the water can be scalding hot!

Clean out gutters. Clogged gutters and downspouts can damage your home. The fall is a great time to clean them out. Dry gutters are easiest to clean. Hang a bucket on the side of the gutter to collect the debris you remove. The leaves can be added to your compost pile. Once the majority of the leaves and gunk are clear, rinse the gutters with your garden hose.

Listen to Adam Helfman's "Hire It Done" radio show every Saturday from 7 a.m. to 9 a.m. on 97. 1 The Ticket.

For more Hire It Done tips, or to schedule for a professional to come out and do the work for you, click right here.