How to Prepare Your House for Fall & Winter
Fall conjures images of sunset-colored foliage, carved pumpkins and cinnamon in the air. Kids swap boogie boards for backpacks and moms and dads breathe a wistful sigh of relief. But shopping for pencil cases and Halloween candy are not the only important tasks you’ll do this fall.
Below, you’ll find a list of not-so-spooky house care tips that every homeowner should complete during autumn to help keep your home safe and warm all season long.
1. Get Ready for Fall(ing Leaves)
Watching the leaves change from vivid green to amber and gold is one of the highlights of the season. Raking up those leaves once they’ve fallen from the tree is not. Perhaps, composting or mulching all the leaves is your preferred route. But, if you plan on removing them from the yard, you’ll need to have the right tools ready to clear the lawn of debris.
At the very least, you’ll need a good rake to help clear the leaves from your yard. But, if you can get your hands on a leaf blower, you can save a ton of time. And don’t forget to stock up on large bags to help remove the ever-growing pile.
2. Branch Out
Aging trees can pose another threat as the weather gets colder and the winds start to kick up. If the branches of your trees are directly over your home, then you may have a more elevated risk of damage in the event that large branches break off and fall.
If this unfortunate scenario happens to your home, the damage of falling branches could range from minor to quite severe. Common issues may as simple as a few damaged shingles or shattered windows, but when it comes to heavy branches, you may see dented / blocked gutters, or a complete compromise of the integrity of your roof.
This is why it’s important for all homeowners to keep a close eye on the trees surrounding your property. Frequently, inspect them for potential weakness, and strategically trim them as soon as they start to get too close to your home. Use a chainsaw or hire a professional to remove branches that are too close to the house or those that appear to be in danger of falling.
3. Clean Your Gutters
Inspect your roof throughout the season to remove any leaves and branches that have accumulated there. As the leaves fall and pile up in your yard, keep in mind that the same is happening on top of your roof.
If the leaves are not cleared out in a timely manner, the accumulation of leaves or branches may prevent water from draining properly, and sometimes can create a “dam” that prevents water from draining entirely. Dammed up water may damage exterior surfaces and create a leak in your roof, window or walls. As every homeowner knows, a leak in the roof can cause all sort of other damage to items inside your home, possibly even creating an environment that allows mold to grow.
Check your rain-gutters, downspouts and other drainage items frequently to be sure they aren’t blocked by fallen leaves, debris or birds nests.
4. Repair Any Roof Leaks
A minor roof leak can become a major problem as the temperature starts to drop. Frozen water or the weight of snow can exacerbate minor flaws and leave your home vulnerable to major water damage.
This is precisely why every homeowner should make it a habit to climb up on their roof, grab a pair of binoculars or contact a roofing company to do a thorough inspection. Check the shingles and metal flashings for any signs of damage, especially on the ridge and in valleys or around vents and chimneys.
When it comes to roofs, a small amount of preemptive care can save you from an enormous amount of damage down the road.
5. Prepare Your Lawn
When the weather turns colder and the snow is near, some homeowners may breathe a sign of relief knowing that they won’t have to mow their lawn again until spring. For the most part, this is generally true. You will, indeed, have less lawn care responsibilities.
However, before you stash away your lawnmower and turn your grass over to the cold, it’s important to fertilize your lawn one last time. Spread a layer before the ground freezes, and your lawn will wake up in the spring nourished and ready to grow green once again. There’s no better way to start the spring season.
You will also want to winterize your sprinkler system. The last thing you want is to discover that it needs repairs come spring.
6. Walk the Walk. Fill the Crack.
Summer showers and growing roots may have damaged your driveway, or walkway. The wise homeowner will take a few minutes to check if their concrete or pavers have shifted, become loose or are somewhat uneven.
This simple task can prevent a falling hazard throughout all seasons of the year, but are increasingly treacherous in wet or icy weather. No matter how small the crack may seem, if you can spot and fill it before the winter chill, you have a better chance to prevent water from seeping in and freezing when the temperature drops. Once this happens, the cracks may expand and create an even more treacherous hazard as time goes on.
7. Dodge the Draft
Now that you have the windows down and you’re enjoying the cold weather, don’t forget that you need to prepare for the (even) colder temperatures to come.
Cold drafts inside your home can be a real drag. Buy some caulk, and seal cracks and gaps around windows or doors to keep your home energy efficient throughout the year. Check weather stripping for deterioration and replace or repair any sections that look damaged. Window treatments can also reduce energy loss, so consider installing insulating shades, curtains or blinds.
These small improvements are easy DIY projects that can save a ton of money for all homeowners. But this is especially true for those that live in areas that experience extreme temperatures.
8. Get Ready to Heat Things Up
You can also prepare for the cooler, drier winter weather by inspecting and performing routine maintenance on the equipment that heats your home. Perhaps the most important preparation that a homeowner can do to prepare for winter.
If you use a gas heater, hire a professional to inspect it for leaks and ensure it’s ready to warm your home in an efficient and safe manner. A “leaky” heater is not only inefficient but may also fill the air you breathe with dangerous poison. And the wise homeowner knows that they should never compromise their indoor air quality.
9. Change Your Air Filter
The air filter in your home needs to be changed on a frequent basis. While we may sometimes forget or neglect to change the air filter, the dawn of Autumn is a great time to change all the filters in your home.
Not only will this improve your indoor air quality, but it will also increase the overall efficiency of your furnace. If you’ve noticed screeches or whines coming from the belt, or maybe even erratic behavior from your furnace, you may want to have it inspected for blockages or problems with the burners, blower motor or thermostat.
It’s better to do this at the beginning of the Fall season, than to wait until the winter chill sets in.
10. Clear the Chimney (And Fire When Ready)
If you use a wood fireplace in your home, it would be wise to inspect the chimney to ensure there are no blockages or venting problems before you light the first fire of the season. Have your chimney swept, cleaned and cleared before you start any fires inside your home.
For the homeowner looking to save a bit of money, consider adding an energy-efficient fireplace insert to provide heat to your room while slashing your overall heating bills.
This is also a great time to conduct routine other “home safety” measures, such as replacing the batteries in smoke and carbon monoxide detectors throughout your home.
11. Chill Out. (And Save Money)
After a long, hot summer, the cool weather can be a welcome relief to your body… as well as your budget. You can finally turn down your air conditioner, but may not need heat for a few more months.
Use the colder weather as an opportunity to create a comfortable temperature inside your home. Leave your windows open at night and enjoy the crisp chill of the Fall evening. Strategically tweak your thermostat, enjoy the mild temperatures and think of all the money you’ll save.
12. Add Welcoming Fall Decor
As the Fall season rolls in, there is no better time to change the elements of your interior decor to suit the season and welcome you as you come home.
- Interior Fall Decor — Whether it’s autumn leaves, orange pumpkins or Fall candles, there are some very easy and cheap improvements that every homeowner can make to add a bit of Fall flair to their home.
- Exterior Fall Decor — You might add outdoor lanterns along your walkway or fence to welcome visitors as the days become shorter and darkness comes on earlier. Extra light can be great for guiding trick-or-treaters as well. A seasonal doormat, large pumpkins and harvest themed elements create a warm welcome despite the cold.
Embrace the season with these simple upgrades to your decor.
13. Contain Yourself (And Declutter Your Mornings)
While your house may stay cleaner once the kids are back in school, odds are your entryway will not.
Backpacks, jackets and muddy shoes can quickly pile up around your main entrance, creating a mess, as well as a hazard. Now is a good time to add a mudroom bench with hooks to hold all the backpacks and outerwear coming in from the cold day. Extra storage for shoes and other gear will also help cut the clutter and keep your house looking neat. This will all go a long way to getting you ready for the morning rush.
Leaves, lawns, furnaces and fires all require attention as the cold weather starts to set in. And while this may be an intimidating task at first glance, getting your home ready for fall doesn’t have to be scary. These simple tips will make fall house care as easy as pumpkin pie.