As Kids Go Back to School, Homeowners Should Do Their "Homework"--ASHI Recommends "Three Rs" to Move Safely Into Fall


Sheena Quinn
Public Communications, Inc.

DES PLAINES, Ill. - Fall is here and kids across the country are trading in their swimsuits and shorts for school uniforms and backpacks. As they collect their first homework assignments, the American Society of Home Inspectors (ASHI) recommends homeowners do some "homework" of their own.

"Back-to-school time is the perfect time for homeowners to check their home's systems for any needed maintenance or repairs," said Steve Gladstone, president of ASHI, the oldest and most respected non-profit, professional organization for home inspectors in North America. "Checking furnaces and gutters before temperatures and leaves start falling can save homeowners money and hassles throughout the season."

Homeowners needing a quick guide on what to look for can replace the traditional "Three Rs" with ASHI's version: Replace, Repair and Remove.

  • Replace

- Broken glass or loose caulking: Homes can take a beating during summer months with families and pets creating constant traffic running inside and outside, and frames and seals can suffer. Check doors, windows and trim for cracked glass or loose putty and caulking. Be sure to replace any loose or worn down weather stripping.

- Cords and plugs: Many of the cords and electrical outlets in a home are obscured from view and, for many, out of sight can mean out of mind. Test all of the home's ground-fault circuit breakers and check the condition of extension cords and plugs. No need to hang on to a questionable cord "- replace it as soon as wear is apparent.

- Filters and Batteries: Homeowners should change or clean air filters for heating and cooling systems every month. Use this homework assignment to get caught up if you've fallen behind during the summer. And why wait for the time change later in the fall? Add changing batteries in smoke and carbon monoxide detectors to your back-to-school checklist.

  • Repair

- Exterior walls: When cracks go unnoticed, the damage can add up, so keeping up with the condition of all exterior walls is critical. Check for cracks in the masonry and damage to trim and make repairs before cooler weather sets in.

- Roof: Check the roof for any damaged or loose shingles. Finding and repairing damage is essential to avoid leaks and water damage. It's also important to check that metal flashing, gutters and downspouts are in good shape--damage to these areas also causes leaks in the roof. ASHI advises homeowners to use caution when examining their roofs and to call in a professional if doing so would be unsafe.

- Outside areas: Repair any cracks in driveways and walkways and check the yard for settlement and soil erosion. Be sure to fill in any low spots that are close to the house's foundation to prevent basement leaks and flooding.

  • Remove

- Debris in gutters: When checking for damage to gutters and downspouts, remove all debris to prevent water from backing up and damaging the house.

- Buildup in fireplaces: Make getting the chimney cleaned part of your annual fall homework. Homeowners who have nightly fires or burn a lot of softwood should clean more often.

- Overhanging tree limbs: Inspect trees and shrubs and prune branches that are too close to the house or that overhang the roof. Remove dead trees or tree limbs so they don't cause damage during storms.

"Many problems homeowners face are preventable through proper maintenance," added Gladstone. "That's why The ASHI Experience -" the comprehensive service that only ASHI Inspectors can provide--includes education on maintenance. ASHI Inspectors share information about everything from changing heating filters to locating shut-off valves, as well as provide information showing when major systems should be checked again."

If you're unsure of your home's current state, working with an ASHI Inspector can provide a reliable picture of your home's condition. You can locate an ASHI Inspector using the Find an Inspector search at The site also offers the Virtual Home Inspection, which provides interactive examples and photos of the areas of the home that are included on the fall maintenance checklist.

For More Information

Formed in 1976, the American Society of Home Inspectors (ASHI) is the oldest and most respected non-profit professional society for home inspectors in North America. Its mission is to promote excellence and exemplary practice within the profession. ASHI's Standards of Practice and Code of Ethics are the recognized guidelines for the home inspection profession.

For more information on the American Society of Home Inspectors, contact the association at 932 Lee Street, Suite 101, Des Plaines, Ill. 60016. Phone: 800-743-2744. Or visit the ASHI Web site at While online, experience ASHI's Virtual Home Inspection tool, which provides an interactive overview of the 10 main areas of the home that are part of an ASHI Inspection.