Hollie Sehrt And Cindy Rodriguez\scripps Howard News Service Illustration
You need to stay on top of the maintenance chores if you want to keep your home and all the good things in it functioning smoothly.

When you're working, wrangling the kids and generally living a full life, it's easy to let taking care of your home fall to the bottom of the priority list.

But you need to stay on top of maintenance chores if you want to keep your home and all the good things in it functioning smoothly.

As fall approaches, it's time to start thinking about a top-to-bottom inspection to check for any damage and to prepare for the upcoming cold winter months.

Here are three essential chores to tackle this week to get your home ready for the transition to fall.

No. 1. Change essential batteries:Don't wait until your smoke and carbon-monoxide detectors chirp at you to be changed, since that usually happens when you're busy doing something else (like sleeping).

Buy a few extra batteries when you're at the grocery store this week, and swap out the old batteries for new ones in all of your detectors when you get done putting the groceries away. If you live with others, ask them to help, too.

Once you're done, enjoy the peace of mind that comes with knowing your detection systems are ready.

No. 2. Change the filters: As much as half of the energy used in your home goes to heating and cooling. A dirty filter will slow down air flow and make the system work harder to keep you warm or cool — thus wasting energy.

A clean filter will also prevent dust and dirt from building up in the system, leading to expensive maintenance and/or early system failure.

If it's been more than three months, head to the hardware store, buy some new filters and put them in your heating and cooling systems this week.

No. 3. Sweep the chimney: If you plan to spend a long winter cozied up to a warm fire, a thorough chimney cleaning is in order. Chimneys need periodic examination and thorough cleaning to maintain efficiency and to reduce the chance of a chimney fire. Book an appointment with a chimney sweep to have yours professionally cleaned and checked for loose or missing mortar.

The writers are co-founders of Buttoned Up, a company dedicated to helping stressed women get organized. Send ideas and questions to [email protected]. For more columns, go to scrippsnews.com.