A couple of weeks ago, the team and I shared a basic to-do list as a guide to help prepare your home for the changing of the seasons. Here are some more detailed steps you may want to take to further ensure that your indoor and outdoor areas are in top-notch shape for fall:
Indoor Maintenance and Seasonal House Cleaning
One of the most important cost-saving actions you can take this season is to purchase a programmable thermostat (Or, if you already have one, double-check the settings). Program your thermostat to be at 70 degrees when you’re at home and no more than 62 degrees when you’re away or asleep.
Additionally, check around your windows and doors for air leaks. An easy way to do this is to move a lighter around the window or door frame and see if the flame moves with a breeze. If you find a leak, caulk it. If you are unable to repair the leak around a window frame, you can buy a plastic sealing kit that can be placed on the outside of the window to prevent air from getting in.
For door leaks around the bottom of the door, you can put on a new door sweep. Repairing these leaks now will help lower your energy bill during the colder months.
If you have a gas-powered generator that you keep on hand for possible power outages, make sure you have gasoline stored in an outside storage unit or in your garage. Test your generator now to make sure it is in good working order prior to an unexpected outage.
Fall is a good time to do some indoor painting, as the weather is still warm enough outside to leave windows/doors open for ventilation purposes. After you’ve finished, store leftover paint in your garage to prevent it from freezing during the upcoming winter months.
As part of your seasonal cleaning, you’ll want to wash windows, sills and trim. This is also a perfect time to launder curtains, drapes and valances. If you haven’t already done so this calendar year, vacuum mattresses and box springs as well as under beds and around furniture. Don’t forget to clean all ceiling fan fixtures. A common misconception about overhead fans is that they’re designed to be used only during the warmer months. Truthfully, ceiling fans are helpful no matter what the season. In summer they cool you down and during the chillier months, they increase the airflow and improve your heating.
Outdoor Maintenance, Landscaping and Yard Work
Prior to adverse weather conditions, divert water by adding downspout extensions so that water runs at least three to four feet away from your home’s foundation. For example, homedepot.com carries extensions that are less than $10. You’ll also want to turn off exterior faucets as water that is not drained freezes, causing pipes to expand and possibly burst. Start by disconnecting all garden hoses and draining water that is still in faucets. If you don’t have frost-proof faucets, turn off the shut-off valve inside your home.
As you trim landscaping, be sure to clear the area at least one foot away from exterior walls. You’ll also want to rake debris out of corners and away from the foundation. Cut back tree limbs growing within five feet of the house or that are brushing up against the roof. You will create better ventilation, help dry out surfaces and prevent possible damage.
Have your lawn-irrigation system professionally drained. Your sprinkler service will charge $50 to $150, depending on the size of the system. As with draining spigots, this will help avoid freezing and leaky pipes come spring.
Although grass appears to stop flourishing in the fall, the roots are actually growing deeper to prepare for winter. Now is the best time to fertilize and reseed your lawn. You’ll also want to prune your trees and shrubs after the leaves turn to encourage healthy growth in the spring.
If you have patio furniture, make sure to clean each piece thoroughly prior to storage. If your furniture has metal frames, make sure to check for rust damage and make the necessary repairs. If you choose to cover your pieces, make sure to allow for airflow so no mold or mildew forms.
Make sure your snow shovels and/or snow blower are in good working order. Have routine maintenance performed on your snow blower, and check your shovel handle for any breaks or cracks. Fall is an ideal time to buy a new shovel if necessary – by waiting until the first snow storm approaches, you encounter the possibility that snow removal equipment may sell out in your area.
By taking the time to prepare and maintain your home for fall, you’ll be able to eliminate possible issues that may arise come winter. Working through these seasonal tasks now will also save you time as you begin your preparations for holiday parties and hosting guests in your home.
For our fall maintenance checklist, check out Prepare and Maintain: Fall Home Maintenance Checklist.