Fall or Autumn is the time of the year that transitions summer into winter. It's where the nights get a little bit longer and the air gets a little bit colder. The weather can also be unpredictable that it's best to be prepared for any cold surprises. And we’re here to help. Here’s our checklist to get your home ready for fall.
Have your furnace inspected by a professional. Though you might be able to do the maintenance yourself, it’s still best to have an expert do this for you. They are much more capable to do a more thorough job with their specialized equipment. Plus most of them offer warranties on their repairs which is a big deal later on. HVAC professionals test for leaks, check heating efficiency and change the filter. They can also do a carbon monoxide check to ensure air safety.
The fireplace. If you have a fireplace at home, you'll probably be using them a lot from fall up to the end of winter. Be sure to clean your fireplace thoroughly to prevent fire hazards. Check your chimney for blockages and make sure that your damper is working smoothly and properly. For gas fireplaces, use a vacuum to remove any dust and check that the pilot light is properly turned on.
Air conditioning. Depending on the climate where you live, you likely won’t be using your air conditioner as much in the fall. You might not even use it until next summer. So take time to rinse it before fall hits. It may be necessary to cover your outdoor unit for winter if you have central air conditioning. But if you’re using window-type air conditioning units, you can remove the unit and put them on storage or just cover them to prevent air leaks.
Get a programmable thermostat. If you don’t already have one, buy a programmable thermostat. Setting your thermostat to lower the temperature automatically at night or when you’re not home, can result in substantial cost savings.
Make sure your home safety devices are working. Since you’re probably already checking everything in your house now, you might as well take a look at all your safety devices at home including the non-electricals.
Check for drafts. Take care of insulation issues before the cold weather arrives by eliminating gaps to keep your warm air inside and the cold air out. Hold a lighted candle or incense and move it around your window and door frames slowly. If the smoke or flame flutters, you've found a gap. You can fix this problem by either applying caulk, weather stripping, or applying sealant.
Decorating can also keep you warm. Getting your home ready for fall also means rearranging your furniture. If you have a fireplace or a heater, it becomes the natural focal point for your furniture during fall and winter. Move your seats away from windows or doors and closer to your heat source. Having your seating on the warmest spot in your house will help you avoid cranking up your thermostat.
Home insurance. This perfect time of the year to check your homeowner’s insurance. Review if your policy is accurate and up-to-date. Make sure that your insurance can help you survive a storm and that you’ll be covered no matter what fall or winter may bring.
Clean your gutters and downspouts. While it's a good rule of thumb to clean out your gutters now and then, it's much more important to do this before fall. Leaves can easily get stuck in your gutters retaining moisture and making them rust a lot quicker. And if they accumulate too much, the weight will become too heavy to support.
Installing gutter guards makes life a lot easier. They are very capable of making sure your gutters and downspouts are working properly. It allows fallen leaves to slide off your roof while water simply filters down the gutter. It also helps with preventing leaves from accumulating during the fall season.
Take care of your roof. Do a visual inspection of your roof from the ground or if you can climb up to take a closer look. Look for missing, damaged, or loose shingles. Remove any debris, leaves, or any other foreign material. Moisture and organic debris can help moss grow on your roof. It will strip away the protective oils in your shingles and absorb moisture. This moisture can build up and seep inside the house, leading to wood rot or structural damage to your home.
Check your walls and foundation. Small cracks can easily become bigger, especially with cold weather conditions. Since water expands when it freezes, any water that turns to ice in one of these cracks can lead to some serious damages. Make sure to check if there are any unwanted openings or cracks, and repair or caulk when necessary.
Insulate your pipes. Standing water in your pipes can start to freeze when temperatures drop below freezing. This can break valves and even crack brittle pipes, leading to leaks and water damage. Reduce the risk of pipe freezes and bursts by insulating all exposed pipes. This also reduces heat loss, which helps to reduce water heating costs.
Make your outdoor furniture last longer. If you want to get another summer season out of your outdoor furniture, it's best to store it inside. If you don't have anywhere to store it, make sure you cover your furniture with durable and waterproof material. Don't forget to bring the cushions, pillows, paddings, and other decorative items inside.
Shut off your outside water supply. Drain your hoses and store them in a safe place. If you live in colder regions you might need to turn off your outside faucets and sprinkler systems with the inside shut-off valve. This keeps water out of the pipe, where it could get cold and burst.
Fix your driveway now. You might have been putting this off the whole summer but you’re going to have bigger problems in spring if you don't fix that small crack in the driveway before fall. A small crack can become a bigger one after winter when water seeps in, freezes, and then expands. Cracks and damages in the steps and walkways can also be dangerous especially if it's all covered in snow.
Stock up on fuel. And yes, this also means firewood. Purchase extra gas to have on hand for use in your snow blower or generator, so you’re prepared for emergencies. Store them in a safe place away from anything that could ignite it. If you have a wood-burning fireplace or fire pit, stock up on firewood before the demand peaks. Getting dry wood during fall may be hard so if you have the means to get it, make sure to store it in a nice dry place.
Trim and fertilize your lawn. Prepare your lawn for fall so that you'll still have that good-looking green come spring. Roots are still active when the grass isn't growing, so applying fertilizer will prevent winter damage. Doing this will also help your lawn turn green faster in the spring. Also, give your lawn one last trim before you put away your mower for fall.
Check the trees. Pruning promotes growth, but it should be done with care. Start by removing dead leaves, branches, and limbs. If the tree is near your home, keep limbs and branches at least three feet away from your house. This provides a safe distance against moisture dripping into your roof and against damages when these trees accidentally fall onto your home during high winds.
The best time to plant perennial flowers for spring. Plant bulbs now, so you’ll have flowers to look forward to and mark the first signs of spring. Tulips, daffodils, and hyacinths are best planted in the fall and will bloom in the first months of the spring.
Getting your home completely ready for fall will be tedious, and some of the tasks above can be too complicated to do on your own. Don’t hesitate to reach out to professionals. It’s best to leave the technical and risky jobs to trained professionals such as checking your furnace and anything involving getting on the roof, while you can do the easier ones on your own without a problem and without risking injury. And though there are people you can pay to do almost all that’s listed above, it will cost you a lot. It’s not a good feeling to pay for something you could easily do yourself.