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Tiff’s Tips: How to maintain your home in the fall


By Ana Borruto 

Tiffany Balanoff’s real estate motto is if you take care of your home, it will take care of you. 

This is something The Douglas Elliman Real Estate Realtor tells all of her clients, especially those looking to sell their homes. 

Balanoff says fall is a great time to sell because of the abundance of serious buyers, less competition, and the fall ambiance can add natural curb appeal to a house or an entire neighborhood. 

However, the fall may make a home look aesthetically pleasing, but the age of a home and how maintained it is plays a huge factor in a potential home buyer’s decision. When showing homes, Balanoff said some of the first questions a client might ask is “How old is the roof?”, “Am I going to have to replace the heating and cooling systems?” or “Has the home ever been renovated?” 

Balanoff says knowing the seller takes pride in their home and takes care of it makes a buyer more comfortable in making the investment. Here are Tiffany’s tips on how to keep your home in tip-top shape, especially as the seasons change and colder weather rolls into Long Island. 

Home interior fall maintenance checklist 

1) Heating and Cooling System 

  • Clean and replace any filters 
  • Change ceiling fan direction
  • Remove/vacuum dust and dirt around the unit 
  • Have the system inspected and serviced by a licensed professional 

Tiff’s Tip #1: Tiffany always encourages clients to use professionals who are licensed and insured because it’s part of protecting your investment. 

Balanoff said nothing makes her happier than to hear a client has an annual service plan in place. She said that is a sign of a great homeowner. 

“For most people, their houses are their biggest asset,” Balanoff said. “It’s always a good idea to have these systems serviced every year, but it's especially important to do so before starting it up for the season.”

Tiff’s Tip #2: If you have a ceiling fan, changing its direction before the colder months settle in makes the heating system more efficient. Tiffany said it pushes the rising hot air down rather than sucking it up. 

2) Doors/Windows 

  • Clean and remove screens, then store them somewhere dry 
  • Install storm windows and doors
  • Old drafty windows? Consider wrapping them in plastic. This is a tip Balanoff received from Patrick Mullaney of PM Home Inspections.
  • Check weather stripping and caulking 
  • Check for drafts around windows and doors 
  • Don’t forget the basement and garage door

Tiff’s Tip #3: Tiffany says caulking the doors and windows is one of the most inexpensive maintenance someone can do. ACE Hardware in Rockville Centre and Island Park sell caulk for as little as $5. 

“It can save you so much money by making the house more energy efficient,” Balanoff said. “The more sealed the house is, the more energy efficient it will be.” 

Home exterior fall maintenance checklist

3) Water sources, gutters, foundation 

  • Turn off external water sources. One of the most common homeowners insurance claims is water damage and freezing, according to Rockville Centre insurance agent Alex Anderson of The Anderson Agency (Allstate)
  • Check the house’s foundation for cracks, caulk, and seal
  • Keep the gutters clean and free of debris 

4) Roofs, Fireplace/Chimney

  • Check for loose or missing shingles
  • Keep the gutters clean so snow doesn’t build up — this can cause water and ice to get under the roof
  • If you have a flat roof, make sure the drainage is clear and there is no build-up of leaves or branches that could create a leak from the snow
  • Get the fireplace and chimney inspected by someone who is licensed 
  • Check brick or stucco for cracks 

Tiff’s Tip #4: Successful realtors like Tiffany have a ton of preferred vendors she can recommend to her clients, including roofers. 

It’s common to see slate roofs in Rockville Centre, which Balanoff says are great because they never need to be fully replaced. However, one con is, slate roofs need constant maintenance. 

“I always say the roof is the helmet of the house, it protects your house,” Balanoff said. “A roof that’s not properly maintained can affect the desirability of a prospective buyer.” 

5) Outdoor railings and lighting 

  • Make sure any railings outside — especially around steps, decks, and porches — provide adequate support to prevent someone from slipping on any ice. 
  • Clean off any mold, mildew, or debris just with a little detergent and water. 
  • While you’re checking those railings, take a look at any outdoor lighting fixtures and see if any light bulbs need to be replaced. 

Tiff’s Tip #5: Since it’s starting to get darker earlier, outdoor lights may be on for longer periods of time. Tiffany suggests using Energy Star light bulbs because they will save a lot of energy and cut costs on your bills. 

Looking to sell your home and want to know how to make improvements? Contact Tiffany Balanoff at 516.410.6671 or visit her website to make an appointment.