Autumn is the perfect time to give your home a little TLC before winter sets in. This checklist will help you prepare for fall inside and out.
1. Clear gutters and downspouts
Gutters and downspouts accumulate leaves and debris through the summer and fall, which can lead to ruined gutters, pest problems and wood rot.1 Carefully clear them out, or hire a professional, and make sure water drains properly. Water should flow away from the house so it doesn’t pool around the foundation and cause damage.1
2. Check your windows and doors
Swap out summer screens for storm screens on your windows and doors to help keep your home better insulated.1 If you have window A/C units, remove them before the temperature drops. If you have to leave them in, use an insulating wrap to cover the exterior of the unit.2
Take this opportunity to inspect and repair loose windows or damaged doorframes. Consider installing weather stripping around windows and door sweeps to keep drafts at bay and cut energy costs.2
3. Shut off outdoor faucets
Turn off water to exterior faucets to keep your pipes from freezing when the temperature drops.2 Drain water from the faucets after shutting off the water. This is also a good time to drain your hoses and store them for the winter.2
4. Check walkways, railings and stairs
Identify outdoor areas that may become a slip or fall hazard if the driveway and porch become covered in ice or snow, such as loose handrails or a broken step.2 Tackle repairs now before inclement weather makes your home harder to navigate safely.
Get your outdoor lighting in order, too. Replace burnt-out bulbs on the front and back porch, garage and along the walkway so you and your visitors can safely walk in the dark.
5. Prep outdoor areas
Get your yard ready for the cooler weather. Be sure to:
- Put summer outdoor furniture in storage.
- Hire a professional to trim tree limbs close to power lines, as snow and ice can weigh branches down and damage the lines.1
- Fertilize or reseed the lawn because roots grow deeper in the fall.1
- After the leaves change color, prune trees and shrubs to promote growth.1
6. Perform a heating system check
Prep your furnace for the winter to come by replacing the filter. Clean your ducts to boost heating efficiency and reduce dust.1 You may want to hire an HVAC professional to perform a maintenance check. Remember to vacuum radiators, baseboard heaters and grates to clear away dust.2
7. Test safety detectors
Take a moment to test your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors. An easy reminder: Replace batteries in your detectors when you change your clocks as daylight saving time ends.3
8. Sweep the chimney
If your home has a functional fireplace and chimney, hire a professional to inspect the flue for a tight seal and to clean the chimney.
9. Inspect the attic
When moving around in your attic, be extra careful. A wrong step could damage the ceiling and cause injuries. When you’re in the attic, check vents to1:
- Make sure they aren’t blocked by insulation to prevent ice dams on the roof.
- Clear away dirt and debris from ridge vents and vents at eaves.
- Ensure bird and rodent screens are in place to prevent pests from entering.
A little legwork now means you can relax in a home that’s ready for the cooler fall weather. Just remember to outsource projects to a professional if it doesn’t seem safe or you don’t feel comfortable tackling them on your own.