Transitioning from summer to autumn is never easy. Replacing swimsuits, t-shirts and flip-flops with sweaters, long pants and a jacket is always a bummer. But just as you need to transition from one season to another, so does your house. And since your home can’t do it on its own, it’s relying on you.
If you’re a new homeowner, you’ll soon learn that early autumn is the last chance to get ready for colder weather approaching when rain, snow, and ice can wreak havoc on a house.
But even if you’ve been in your home for a while now — or live somewhere where winter weather is a rarity — our Fall Home Maintenance Checklist is chock full of tips to help every homeowner tackle autumn chores in a jiffy.
Up on the roof
- Scan your roof for damaged, warped or missing shingles. Replace any that look like they won’t last the winter.
- While you’re up on that ladder, check for moss growth. If you find any, spray it with a 50:50 mix of household bleach and water. After 30 mins, hose off with water.
- If it’s been a while, have your entire roof inspected professionally to avoid bigger problems later on.
- Do a gut check! Gutters stuffed with leaves and pine needles can cause rainwater to back up. If it doesn’t drain properly, it could freeze and seep into your interior walls.
- Check downspout runoff. Make sure that water draining from downspouts is being directed away from the house. If it’s pooling too close, it can weaken your foundation.
- Keep critters out. Check roof overhangs and patch any holes or openings where birds, rodents, squirrels and bats could take refuge from the cold.
- Do some chimney upkeep. Before using your fireplace, call a professional to inspect and clean your chimney. They’ll be busy as winter approaches, so schedule them as early as possible.
Your home’s exterior
- Update doors, door frames and windows with a fresh coat of paint. Seal any gaps before the cold weather blows in with weather-stripping and caulking. This can really help keep heating bills low.
- Check walls and foundation for cracks that could let moisture in. Hairline cracks can be patched with grout or quick-dry cement and a putty knife. Anything more significant, and you might want to call in a pro to evaluate.
- Do a screen swap. Summer window screens keep bugs out, but in winter they’re nothing but a snow trap that keeps moisture in. Plus, they block solar heat from coming into your home. Remove them entirely or swap when with glass storm windows.
- Inspect steps, driveways, patios and pathways. Once snow or ice hits, loosened brick or uneven gaps and cracks in outdoor spaces can make walking around outside a hazard. Fix them while you can.
- Check your ‘dark mode.’ Flip on exterior lights at night and make sure they’re all working as expected. Check to make sure all bulbs are suitable for outdoors.
- Weatherproof outlets. If outdoor outlets are exposed to rain or snow, consider purchasing plastic all-weather guards. Or simply cut the power to them until the spring.
Lawn and garden
- Get a trim. Giving shrubs and bushes a haircut helps them stay healthy and can prevent damage to the plant if heavy snow comes unexpectedly. If near the house, it keeps windows clear and lets more light in.
- Remove risky tree limbs that are growing too close to the house, roof or overhead power lines. If you can’t do it yourself, get a professional.
- Don’t leave the leaves. Many think a blanket of autumn leaves protects the lawn below, and to a degree that’s true, but too many can trap moisture and rot your grass before it even has a chance to revive. Even when grass isn’t growing, roots are still active, so aerating, fertilizing and raking will set you up for a great lawn in the spring.
- Know your flowering plants. Remove the dead annuals (they’re not coming back) and mulch your perennials (so they will). Meanwhile, remember to plant bulbs that will bloom in early spring, like daffodil, hyacinth, crocus and tulips.
- Drain hoses and turn off exterior faucets. Even if you haven’t used them in a while, hoses can retain residual water. Once the temps dip below freezing, you’ll wish you stored them properly. While you’re at it, we’d suggest insulating exposed exterior pipes.
- Care for your tools. Clean and oil hand tools, and winterize your lawnmower by removing the battery, brushing off caked-on grass and mud, and storing it with a full tank of gas to keep condensation from forming rust.
- Protect patio furniture. If you don’t have a garage or shed to put patio furniture in, consider buying a fitted tarp to protect them from the elements. Do the same for your grill if you don’t intend to BBQ over the winter.
On the inside
- 86 the AC. Remove window air conditioning units before temperatures drop. If you have nowhere to store them, cover the entire unit with an insulating wrap to keep cold air out.
- Check your attic for any signs of moisture. You might want to do this in conjunction with your roof shingle inspection.
- Have your HVAC checked. You don’t want your furnace and heating system punking out on you in the dead of winter. Have a pro inspect it every two years or so. And now’s a good time to change the filters and clean the air ducts to reduce dust in the house and improve your home’s energy efficiency.
- Test smoke detectors & carbon monoxide alarms and, even if you think they still have life left in them, change the batteries.
- Lose the lint. Your dryer’s vents are possibly filled with lint – a real fire hazard. If you can’t get at it yourself, call in the professionals to stay on the safe side.
- Check fire extinguishers to make sure they are full and haven’t been tampered with, and make sure everyone in the house knows where they are located and how to use them.
- Kitchen clean-out. Now that the summer’s over, you’re probably going to be cooking in more. So, consider doing a deep clean of the kitchen. Clean the oven interior, degrease the range hood and filter, vacuum behind the fridge, and remove the dead mosquitoes and moths from overhead lighting fixtures. Once the holiday’s come, you’ll be glad you did.
- Snow removal supplies. Global warming doesn’t mean snow is a thing of the past. See to it that the snow shovels and ice scrapers you used last winter are still functional. If not, get new ones before there’s a run after the first storm.
- Do a dry run. If shoveling snow is not your thing, test your snowblower to make sure it’s in working order. If you hire a plow service, call them to make sure you’re on their service call schedule.
- Stock up on rock salt. If you rely on ice-melt pellets, please look for brands that make it pet, plant, and environmentally friendly.
Lastly, have fun
- Get out the Halloween decorations, and carve a pumpkin and roast the seeds.
- Situate the Holiday stuff for easy access once Thanksgiving rolls around.
- Lighten up! Remember, you don’t want to be stringing outdoor holiday lights in the dead of winter. Do it early while it’s still bearable out!
Now, if you’re feeling really motivated, check out our recent blog on home improvements that we think are totally worth it!