When September arrives, it is time to start planning your home's maintenance projects for the fall.

Be sure to call now to schedule your appointments with contractors and service professionals. Many of them are back-logged due to the heavy monsoons and products/materials shortage. Call now, and don’t be surprised if they can’t get to you for a few weeks.

Get these items scheduled

Cooling and heating system: Even though the air conditioner is still running, schedule the bi-annual check-up of your HVAC unit.

Make sure the heating system will be ready to fire up when the weather hits 60 degrees. If you have gas heat, the tune-up should include a full inspection of the unit including a safety check for the gas line and inspection of the ignitor. An electric heat pump should be serviced once a year, ensuring the reversing valve is properly working. Ask the service provider if they offer energy audits (usually only $99) If so, have that performed at the same time.

Chimney care: This is not a job you want to do yourself. It is messy! In a wood-burning fireplace, the wood never burns completely. The creosote that builds up over time is highly flammable. Cleaning needs to be done before the first fire of the season.

Keeping the fireplace and chimney clean is a safety issue. The care is different for wood-burning and artificial gas-heated logs.

• It is recommended that you have the chimney cleaned every five years or for every chord of wood you burn-whichever comes first. Creosote build-up is a fire hazard. Arizona Chimney & Air Ducts, a Rosie-Certified Partner, says a full inspection of your fireplace should include the flu, flue pipe, and damper.

• For gas-burning logs, have the gas fittings, flue, and flue pipe, checked. Get the gas log set cleaned, too. With gas logs, the flue must be left partially open in the event of a gas leak.

• If your fireplace has a direct vent, generally behind a glass sheet, have that checked as well.

Some counties, particularly Maricopa County, have many no-burn days based on air quality. Therefore, you may want to consider changing your wood-burning fireplace to a gas fireplace. That way, you can enjoy the warmth and ambiance without worrying about getting a fine.

Pool maintenance: Assess the pool's motor run time and chemical use. The motor can be reduced by a couple of hours a day during off-peak hours. Less chlorine will be required during cooler temperatures. Test the pool water (or have it tested at your local pool supply) and make sure you are not wasting money by over-chlorinating. Check the pool filters and buckets.

Irrigation: Watering systems should be adjusted every quarter and based on the weather of the season. Call a professional landscape company to assess your watering needs and ensure your irrigation equipment is properly functioning. Maybe now is a good time to consider installing a smart irrigation system to help with watering accuracy.

Foundation inspection: We had an extremely wet monsoon this year with a lot of flooding. Keep an eye on your foundation, driveway, and walkways for any signs of heaving. If you see any changes schedule an appointment with a foundation specialist.

Roofing inspection: If you didn’t do this in the spring and made it through the monsoon season without leaks, call now to schedule an inspection before the winter rains. Because of the monsoons, roofers are exceptionally busy. Get on their schedule now.

Regular maintenance matters

Regular home maintenance visits are important for many reasons.

Increased home value: A well-maintained home will garner more money on the market than one that needs a lot of work.

Fewer repair and replacement costs: If you catch something such as a leaky pipe early, the cost of repairing or replacing it is exponentially less. Failure to conduct regular maintenance can lead to damaged or failed equipment or structures, thus costing significantly more to repair or replace. Plus, your home's systems will be more efficient, providing saving on your utility bill.

Home and equipment warranties: If your home is new or has newly installed systems that are warrantied, the breakdowns will not be covered if the cause was a lack of maintenance. So, not only did you spend money on a warranty that you cannot use, but you’ll need to replace or repair the broken item, too.

Maximize maintenance visits

Get the most out of your visit with the technician.

• Make sure there is clear access to what is being inspected.

• Check multiple appliances and systems in one visit.

• Ask the technician what the issues are, the cause, and prevention.

• Ask for tips on maintaining the item being serviced.

• Get quotes from the company that covers your homeowner’s insurance.

• Provide the company with helpful feedback.

• Rosie's Tip: Skip the “today and today only” extended warranty and service plan offers. Do your homework first to determine the value and validity. Find a trusted service provider and develop a relationship with them instead. Create a savings account for necessary repairs.

Join Rosie on the House every Saturday morning from 8 a.m. to 11 a.m. on KTAR News 92.3 FM. If you'd like to send us questions or comments, email mailto:[email protected] Follow us on Twitter and "Like" us on Facebook. For more do-it-yourself tips, go to rosieonthehouse.com. An Arizona home building and remodeling industry expert since 1988, Rosie Romero is the host of the syndicated Saturday morning Rosie on the House radio program. Call 888-767-4348 with questions and comments.