Autumn is around the corner and it’s the perfect time for maintaining the outside of your home. The sun is not frying your head and the winter winds aren’t freezing your fingers.

In fact, if you start soon, some of those big projects you were postponing might be gone well before Halloween.

1. Clean the gutters. You probably knew about this one. If you have many trees nearby you may need to clear your gutters twice before winter sets in. Falling leaves and other tree debris can clog gutters in just a few weeks. Clogs can make water collect in one spot, which can damage your roof or siding. To keep your hands clean, use rubber gloves or one of those skinny scoopers made for this purpose from your local hardware store. If you feel shaky about going up a ladder, there are plenty of folks on Craigslist who will be happy to clean your gutters for you.

2. Speaking of trees, fall is the time to cut dead limbs and otherwise prune your trees as needed. Snow and freezing rain may bring them crashing down when you least want to go outside to saw and haul logs. Fall is also a good time to prune because the trees are going dormant, and so any diseases are less likely to take hold at the cuts and sicken your tree.

3. Seal any gaps you find on the outside of your house. When the cold weather hits, everything from stink bugs to mice will be looking for cozier quarters. Small holes can be filled with wood, putty, cement, hardware cloth or whatever fits the material and size of the hole you’re looking at. Be sure not to miss under eaves and right where your foundation meets the ground.

4. Got a chimney? Call a pro chimney cleaner to take a hard look inside and clean it. Holes and cracks can lead to fires that might not be detected for a long while. A good professional can also test your flue to make sure the seal is tight. Last, install a chimney cap if you don’t have one already: It is the only way to keep leaves, rain, critters and bird droppings from coming down the stack.

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