Seasonal Home Prep: Fall Edition

A whiff of cinnamon from a hot apple pie.
The scent of a warm pumpkin spice latte.

These are the harbingers of fall. But before you can curl up on the sofa with a tasty treat, your tablet and a cozy blanket, there are a few things you may need to do to prepare your home for the coming season. 

Outside Tasks
It’s a good idea to start on exterior projects while the weather is still reasonable.
Working from the top down, inspect your roof for loose shingles and reseal them to prevent leaks. Some homes have leaks that go undetected because the water damage is hidden in an attic or an area you can’t easily see.
Since you’ll already be on a ladder, remove all the debris that has accumulated in the gutters. This may need to be repeated after any remaining leaves fall off the trees. Some homeowners add gutter covers to prevent this from being an ongoing chore.
Rent or buy a power washer to spray down the exterior to get rid of any cobwebs or moss growing on the outside of your house. Afterwards, check for any cracks or gaps where insects or animals can sneak in during the colder months—mice can squeeze in through surprisingly tiny openings.
While you have the power washer out, empty the garage and hose down the floors. Unless you have concrete block for walls, you should avoid spraying them—otherwise the drywall could become wet leading to mold and/or damage. The power washer is also great for cleaning sidewalks, driveways and sheds.
Remove hoses from the spigot (to avoid freezing up) and clean up any items you won’t need during the winter. This might include your weed trimmer, mower, gardening tools, sporting equipment and bikes.

Lawn and Garden

The work needed to maintain and winterize your yard will vary greatly based on your climate. Regardless of where you live, this is an ideal time to do some general tidying—deadhead plants, remove weeds, trim bushes, even out mulch or rocks, and apply proper seasonal lawn treatment.
If your landscaping features a bird bath, decorative fountain or statuettes, hosing them down and wiping them off will make them look like new. Fall is also the right time (in most zones) to plant bulbs like tulips, daffodils, crocus and many more. A little digging now produces beautiful blooms in the spring.

Comfort and Safety

As temperatures drop and daylight wanes, we move inside to make sure our interior is winter-ready. The most important things to focus on your major mechanical systems and energy hogs like leaky windows.
HVAC experts typically recommend having your furnace serviced each fall, including replacing the filter. Some homeowners need to change the filter a few additional times throughout the winter—especially in homes where there’s a lot of pet hair or dust.
In addition to checking out the system itself, make sure your thermostat is working properly or consider upgrading to a smart thermostat—scheduling your heating cycles around your lifestyle can increase efficiency and decrease your utility costs. You can take this a step further by conducting an energy audit or hiring a contractor to perform one for you. 
Safety is an important part of interior fall prep. Here are some of the key areas to check:
  • Make sure the fireplace flue is clean by shining a light upwards and looking for nests or other blockages.
  • Test the damper to confirm it works as needed.
  • Check for gas leaks with appliances like your dryer. Simply smooth some dish detergent around the fitting and turn on the dryer. If the soap bubbles up, gas is leaking. If not, you probably have a solid connection.
  • Test your smoke and CO2 detectors, and replace the batteries.
  • Check or replace your fire extinguishers and make sure you have enough of them strategically placed throughout your home.
  • Review your family’s fire escape plan.
- Nov 20, 2018