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By Linda Stewart

With the hot weather behind us and the cool temperatures not too far off, fall is the best time to do some maintenance work around the house and yard here in the Ark-La-Tex.

• If you have multiple jobs that are a bit too big for you to handle on your own, consider enlisting the help of a single, general contractor who can do everything from patching your roof to replacing your windows to sealing your patio.

• Here are five areas of your home that might need some attention before it’s gets cold outside:

1. Windows

If your house was too hot over the summer or if some rooms were hotter than others, it could mean your windows aren’t doing a good job of keeping the weather outside where it belongs.

Old, single-pane windows or leaky windows won’t do any better at keeping the cold air out and your expensive, heated air in during the winter.

Before it gets cold, consider investing in energy-efficient, double-pane windows that will preserve your comfortable, heated air and keep the cold out of your house.

You could caulk and weather-strip around the windows to prevent air from leaking in and out of the window frame, but that won’t do anything to reinforce a single pane of glass. New windows will make your home more comfortable and your heating and air conditioning bills a little bit lower.

2. Wood

Now that the sun isn’t beating so hard on your house, it’s a good time to do some maintenance on the wooden parts of the building.

If you have any wood windows, wood exterior doors or wood siding, you need to scrape, sand and repaint them every couple of years—especially if the wood is on the south or southwest side of your house. That’s a good job for mild fall weather.

Consider working with a professional who can spot and remedy rot and mold—and who will know when you really need to replace that wood door or window instead of trying to patch it up.

3. Roof

If leaves and pine needles are accumulating in your yard, they’re covering your roof as well. Get someone to climb up there and sweep them away.

Debris on a roof tends to slide to the lowest point, which is where your gutters are. Leaves and anything else that lands on the roof will form a dam, inviting water to pool in the gutters and wherever there’s a bend in the roof. That alone can weaken roofing materials, which can lead to leaks.

But during a rainstorm, your backed-up gutters and downspouts won’t be able to get water off the roof fast enough. The result: rotting fascia board, leaks into the house, and rotted walls.

4. Porches and patios

. We’re lucky enough to be able to use our patios all the way through the winter—with a little help from a patio heater. Don’t deny your family access to your patio, porch or deck because it’s too cold to sit on it. Install a fire pit, fireplace or chiminea outdoors so everyone will want to spend time there together.

5. Additions and renovations

If you’re considering adding a room to your house, it’s a good idea to get started before the weather gets too cold.

Your contractors will do their best to seal up the hole in your house where the new room will attach. But even the heaviest plastic can only keep out so much cold air.

If you hope to spruce up your bathroom or kitchen before holiday guests start arriving, you can’t get the project going too soon.

It can take weeks for even a small, one-room renovation once you carefully choose a design and order materials. So plan accordingly. A half-finished guest bathroom on Christmas Eve will inconvenience your company and make you wish you had started the job in the fall instead of waiting until December.

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