10 home-maintenance jobs to tackle in autumn

man catching water form a leaky roof

Sue Hewitt, Blanche Clark

Posted March 09, 2021

10 simple home maintenance jobs to help get your home ready for autumn.

As the days shorten and a chill nips the morning air, preparing your home for the season ahead could help prevent a disaster later on.  

RACV’s trade training manager Andy Anderson says every autumn RACV Emergency Home Assist receives a surge in callouts to help with issues that could have been avoided with a little preparation.  

Last year RACV Trades attended a record 15,000 callouts between 1 March and 30 May to help with home emergencies, with the most common problems being blocked pipes, drains and toilets, damaged gas heaters and burst taps.

Almost one in five calls involved blocked drains, toilets and pipes, with drain and pipe blockages commonly caused by tree leaves and debris blocking gutters, downpipes and stormwater drains.

“If you clean your gutters at the start of the season you’ve got the best shot at avoiding problems when the rains come,” says Andy. He says blocked gutters can cause extensive damage if water overflow is forced into a home’s roof cavity or down the walls.  

Person cleaning dead leaves from a gutter

Clean your gutters, downpipes and stormwater drains, as any water overflow can affect your house.

It’s also important to clear your garage or carport’s gutters, downpipes and stormwater drains, as any water overflow there can affect your house if it’s attached.

Because of the risk of working at heights, Andy suggests calling in a professional to carry out this work, and asking them to check for cracked roof tiles at the same time. He also suggests setting aside some time early in autumn to prune back any trees that might drop leaves into your gutters. 

Now is also a good time to have your gas heater serviced, says Andy. Once winter approaches and the real cold sets in, a surge in demand for servicing can mean a long and chilly wait to get your heater fixed. And he says not to wait for winter to seal up any draughts that will leak warm air and drive up your power bills.

As for preventing the other most common home emergencies, Andy says regardless of the time of year, it’s best to avoid so-called ‘flushable’ wipes which can block toilets, and don’t let any minor tap problems go unchecked. “Don’t ignore the warning signs,” he says. “If a tap drips or is hard to turn off, it needs attention. It’s best to call out a professional to check the washers and rubbers and lubricate all the taps in one go, as they’re probably all the same age.” 


Technician checking and cleaning split system air conditioner

Ensuring your heating/cooling is clean and clear is a key autumn maintenance task.

10 home maintenance jobs to tackle in autumn

Clean your gutters

Make sure your gutters, downpipes and stormwater drains are all clear of leaves and other debris that can cause blockages, forcing rainwater to overflow into the roof cavity or down the walls of your home. Watch Andy’s video showing you the best way to unblock a downpipe. One way to reduce the problems of leaves in gutters is to prune trees, removing unwanted branches now before they lose their leaves. 

Check for loose roof tiles

Don't wait for heavy rian to find out your roof isn't watertight. This is a job best left to the professionals, so think twice before you consider climbing up on the roof.

Check your deck or balcony for damage

It’s important to do a full check of your decking or balcony at the end of summer. TV presenter and carpenter Walt Collins, co-host of Channel 10’s Healthy Homes Australia  and house and land series Buy to Build, says over the past few years, balcony and decking collapses have resulted in a number of injuries and even deaths. “Carefully examine the support beams, posts and decking for any damage,” Walt says. “Timber dries, cracks, moves, expands, shrinks and all the stuff in between. Over a season, fixings (bolts, nails, screws or plates) can loosen and supports can crack, putting you and your family at risk.” 

Next check the joists – the long, wide timbers turned on their edges which the decking boards sit on. Check for cracks, rot, dampness and bends. Often water runs down the house and on to your joists and over time this can cause hidden rot. Finally check the decking boards, balustrades and handrails for movement, rotting and ageing timbers.

If you spot any damage or if you have any concerns, Walt says to contact a qualified professional to visit and do a thorough strength check. Don’t rely on a handyman for this one. 

Get your heater serviced

Have your gas heater serviced before winter to ensure it’s working safely and not emitting lethal carbon monoxide. Get your reverse-cycle split-system heating and cooling unit serviced. And if you have an evaporative cooler, get a professional in to empty out stale water and shut off the electricity and water supply. Make sure any heaters are well clear of curtains or any other flammable materials before use.

Walt also suggests cleaning the filters inside your heating or air-conditioning unit. “This is something you should do twice a year. Take a split-system AC unit installed on the wall, it sucks in air from your room – which means it sucks in dust, hair, pollens and more – heats or cools it, then spits it back out into your room. This will improve the health of your home and those living in it.”

Seal your timbers

Sealing your timbers is up there with cleaning the gutters as one of the most odious autumn maintenance tasks. But it’s important to make sure exterior, exposed timbers are sealed and ready to weather the harsh Victorian winter. This includes decks, balustrades, furniture, window and door frames. Strictly speaking, your timber decks should be oiled or stained twice a year. 

Seal draughts

A simple way to keep the heat in and cold out is a DIY installation of weather seals around doors and windows. Andy has a step-by-step video on sealing window and door gaps to help. 

Seal draughts

A simple way to keep the heat in and cold out is a DIY installation of weather seals around doors and windows. Andy has a step-by-step video on sealing window and door gaps to help. 

Check outside lighting

Make sure there are no exposed wires or other damage and replace any damaged light fittings before they cause electrical problems. Just be sure to turn off the power before you touch anything.

Be power smart

As many of us continue to work from home, it’s important to make sure you don’t overload power points and power boards with extra computers, printers and other electronic equipment. If your power board keeps tripping, don’t just keep resetting it because there may be a bigger problem. Call in an electrician to make sure your home’s electrics are safe and in order. Check our tips for saving power when working from home.

Check your smoke alarm

Test that all your smoke alarms are working properly and replace the batteries.