The current warm temperatures in south Florida are typical this time of year. While much of the nation is experiencing fall-like weather, our days continue to be hot and include some stormy afternoons. Of course, this won’t last forever, as typically cooler temperatures arrive some time later next month or the first of December. However, autumn always reminds us that certain maintenance is a must for an efficient running home and business during our colder, and we use that word lightly, months ahead.

By following these simple steps, not only will your property be ready for fall, but also it’s a good head start if you plan on selling in the near future. Buyers today want to see a home that is as repair free as possible and clearly shows the owner has maintained it regularly.

  • Chances are, your air conditioner has been running non-stop in the past several months. Now is the time to replace dirty air filters because it not only uses more energy but also can create an unhealthy air environment such as dust particles and mites.
  • Replace the batteries in smoke detectors. Usually, most people find it easier to do when we move the clocks back at daylight savings time. They will need to be changed again in the spring when clocks are moved forward.
  • Have your heating system thoroughly checked and inspected. True, in south Florida we don’t often need to turn on the heat regularly, however, it’s important to have it working when those colder days appear. Last thing any homeowner wants to find is a non-working heater when the temperatures dip.
  • Fall is a good time to open windows, not only for some fresh air, but to make sure they open and close properly. Inspect the screens for tears or holes and are sealed properly. Don’t forget to check the doors as well and re-caulk if needed.
  • For wood burning fireplaces, have your chimney inspected, as this is a major fire hazard if not maintained regularly.
  • Refresh your landscape mulch, as this will protect plants when the weather turns cooler. A word of warning: make sure mulch is placed at least five inches away from your foundation. Why? Termites!
  • Speaking of landscaping cut back any overgrown shrubs and trees and remove any brush. This will protect your property from not only rodents and water damage, but also paint damage.

Finally, at least once a year, as a property owner, you should set aside some time and review your homeowner’s insurance policy. A recent study said over 32 million U.S. households had policies that were ill fitted. Ask yourself these questions:

1. Has my insurance company made any changes in my coverage in the past year?

2. Does my insurance policy require a separate deductible in case of hurricane? Hail?

3. If I raise my deductible, will I save much money?

4. Am I aware, or have I been informed of all the discounts that are available to me?

5. Am I under covered? Over covered?

Other points to ponder include if you have made any major improvements to your property in the past year, such as adding a new bathroom, updating kitchen or work areas. And don’t forget about the outside, especially if you have a new swimming pool, gazebo or added a garage.

If you have made your home or commercial property safer, by installing a fire and burglar system or upgraded your plumbing, heating or electrical systems, let your insurance company know as you may very well qualify for a discount. If you have made certain lifestyle changes, like starting a business out of your home, your policy may need to be changed to include any equipment or product, especially if this is your primary source of income.