As the days get shorter and temperatures get cooler, it’s time to tackle some essential end-of-the-season tasks to protect your important investments — and favorite toys — so they are ready for next season. Home maintenance and taking care of work around the house before the fall will make welcoming the new season in more enjoyable.

Add these seven items to your end of summer checklist:

Schedule a chimney cleaning and inspection:

Before lighting the first fire of the season, call in the pros. Over time, soot and creosote can build up in your home chimney, increasing the risk of a fire. The National Fire Protection Association reports that 28 percent of home heating fires could be attributed to a failure to clean chimneys. Call in a certified chimney sweep who will clean the fireplace, firebox, liners, flue and chimney to remove flammable debris.

Tune up your lawnmower:  

After the final cut of the season, clean and sharpen the mower blades, drain the gas and oil, remove the spark plugs, replace the air filter and remove the battery. A dry location like your garage or shed is the best place to store a lawnmower. But if it must be kept outside, cover it with a lawnmower cover to protect it from the elements.

Clean gutters:

Remove all debris from the gutters before the leaves start to fall. Clogged gutters and downspouts can damage your home’s foundation and soffits, cause roof leaks and increase the risk of pest infestation. Balancing on a ladder can be dangerous so hire a professional cleaning crew, if needed.

Clean outdoor furniture:

Before storing your lawn furniture for the winter, wipe it down with warm water and mild detergent and leave it in the sun to dry. Cover the furniture with a tarp and store it out of the elements.

Change air filters:

You should change your air filters every three months, which means the start of a new season is the right time to swap out old filters for clean ones. A dirty or clogged filter can force your furnace to work harder when it’s time to turn on the heat and could drive up your utility bills. Clean filters also help reduce dust and allergens.

Store your outdoor toys: 

Non-motorized watercraft such as canoes, kayaks and paddleboards should be rinsed, sprayed with protectant and wiped dry before storing. Do not stand your boats on their hulls, which can warp them; use a suspended storage rack instead. Motorized boats should have their fluids and filters changed; water drained from the engine block; batteries disconnected; and the engine sprayed with anti-corrosion spray. If possible, store motorized watercraft in a heated, indoor storage area.

Pack up the BBQ:

Make sure your grill is ready for the first burgers of spring by doing some preventive maintenance now. Remove the briquettes and, on a gas grill, turn off and disconnect the propane tank and cover the gas valves with aluminum foil. Store the tank outside, away from dryer and furnace vents. Clean the cooking grates with a wire brush and warm, soapy water. Protect the grill with a cover.

Take care of these home tasks now and then turn your attention to enjoying fall!