With the summer heat a distant memory, the cooler fall temperatures make it the perfect time of year to do a few projects around your home to get it ready for winter. It is especially important to get your home ready for winter if you live in colder areas of the country.
Some of the projects for getting your home ready for winter this fall include inspecting and repairing the outside of your home, maintaining your HVAC unit, and sealing the inside of your home against the winter cold, among other important steps.
By taking these steps, you ensure that you and your family stay warm throughout the winter, your house is protected from pests and the elements, and that your yard will be ready come spring. Here are some projects you need to do this fall to get your home ready for the winter ahead.
1) Create a To-Do List
The first thing you need to do when preparing your list of fall projects is to make a to-do list. A good way to ensure that you do all that you need to is by placing a large wall calendar in an easily accessible, central location in your home. That way you can schedule what you need to accomplish and mark off items on your list as you do them, In addition, this lets anyone who is helping you know what their responsibilities are and when they need to do them.
2) Replace Any Yard Equipment
If you need to replace or buy a piece of yard equipment for your upcoming fall projects, now would be the time to do so. Yard equipment that might come in handy include rakes, hoes, shovels, or anything else that will help you complete each project. You should also consider if you will need such specialized equipment as a power washer for later on in the process.
3) Plant Trees
Next, before you get neck deep in the other aspects of maintaining your yard, you should plant any trees or shrubs for the coming year. Now would be the time to do so since later on the ground might be too hard to dig through. In addition, you want to get any digging out of the way before you tackle the rest of your lawn.
4) Winterize Sprinklers and Outside Faucets
While you are digging in your lawn, you need to also winterize your sprinkler system if you have one. If you don’t know how to do this, you are better off hiring a professional. In addition, you should also should turn off the water to all of your outdoor faucets.
5) Trim the Trees
Now that all of the digging is done, you can start with the rest of your yard. This includes trimming any dead branches from the trees around your home. This can help prevent damage to your home from falling limbs, especially if your area sees any snow or ice during the colder months.
6) Bring in Container Plants
As the air temperature cools down to more fall-like conditions, you should bring in any pots containing your outdoor plants. Before moving them inside, trim away any dead or damaged sections and inspect them for signs of insects.
7) Remove Dead Leaves and Plants
During the fall, the trees in your yard should lose their leaves. When this happens, make sure to rake them up. This gets rid of hiding places for insects. You should also remove any dead plants and prune perennials to get them ready for their winter sleep.
8) Plant Bulbs
Fall is also the perfect time to plant flower bulbs in preparation for the next spring. In general, if you live in the north, plant bulbs from late-September through mid-October. If you live in the south, you can actually wait to plant your bulbs until mid-October to early November.
9) Mulch Your Garden Beds
Before winter comes, you also need to mulch your plants, trees, and shrubs. To protect your perennials and annuals, cover them with a two-to-four-inch layer of mulch. You should also place mulch around the base of your trees and shrubs, but you can wait until later in the fall. Just make sure to do so before the soil becomes frozen.
10) Aerate Your Lawn
To make sure that the soil of your lawn gets the proper air and nutrients to the roots of your grass, you need to aerate it. You can either use a push aerator or wear special attachments to the bottom of your shoes. When aerating your lawn, make sure the soil is slightly moist.
11) Reseed Your Lawn
You should also reseed your lawn from early to mid-fall. This allows your lawn to remain strong and thick, helping it to keep out weeds. You can either spread grass seed by hand or use a piece of equipment specially designed for this purpose.
12) Fertilize Your Lawn
If you have certain types of grass, such as fescue or bluegrass, then you should fertilize it during the fall months. This ensures that your grass remains healthy throughout the winter and is ready to grow come spring. Apply a slow-release fertilizer about a week before your last mowing of the season.
13) Put Away Your Mower for Winter
Once you are certain you no longer need to mow your lawn, it is time to prepare your mower for storage. To do this, start by cleaning your mower. You should also have the blades sharpened and add fuel stabilizer to your mower’s gas tank.
14) Drain and Put Away Your Garden Hoses
You should also drain and put away your garden hoses before the temperature drops below 50 degrees. This can prevent water from freezing inside of them, which can then expand and bust or damage the hose. Put them away in a covered area, such as a garage or shed.
15) Service Your HVAC Unit
Before the outside temperatures drop too much, have a professional service your HVAC unit. This allows you to detect problems early and get them fixed. Otherwise, you could find out your unit is not working properly at the worst possible time, such as when you first turn it on when winter cold and weather first hits.
16) Clean and Cover Your AC Unit
As the temperatures drop in the fall, you should clean and cover your AC unit located outside of your home. Depending on your personal preferences, you can either cover the whole unit or just the top. The idea is to keep ice and other debris out of the unit during the winter. If you have a window AC unit, remove it and store it away for the winter.
17) Change the Air Filter in the Furnace
In conjunction with having your HVAC unit serviced, you should also change out the furnace filter. This ensures that the air in your home remains fresh and allergen-free throughout the winter. You should also change out your filter at least once every three months during the winter and until you stop using your heater the following spring.
18) Put Away Your Patio Furniture
To prevent your patio furniture from fading, staining, or rusting, cover it up during the fall. Alternatively, you can store your patio furniture away in your garage or a shed. In addition, make sure to clean your furniture with mild soap before putting it away.
19) Clean Your Grill
To keep your grill in top condition and rust free, you should cover it after every use. In addition, at the beginning of fall you should give your grill a good cleaning. If you use it during the fall, make sure to clean it after every use and cover it. Your best bet is to store it away somewhere dry and out of the elements for the winter.
20) Repair the Concrete
Over time the concrete around your home can develop cracks. It is important to repair any cracks in your driveway, sidewalks, or walkways before the freezing temperatures hit. This is because water can get in the cracks, which expands if it freezes making the cracks worse. To repair cracks, remove any dirt or debris and fill in the crack with masonry crack filler. Smooth over the area using a trowel and allow it to cure overnight.
21) Seal the Driveway
If you have an asphalt driveway, then you should reseal it in the fall. You should do this project at any time it is not raining from late-September to early October when the temperatures are around 50 to 70 degrees. Sweep away any dirt, and apply asphalt sealer over your driveway’s surface, allowing it to cure for at least 24 hours.
22) Clean Your Gutters
If you have trees around your home, you should clean your gutters after the leaves have fallen. This helps prevent water from building up in your gutters and freezing during the winter. You can also install a leaf guard to keep leaves out of your gutter altogether.
23) Inspect and Repair Your Roof
Before the harsh, winter weather sets in, it is a good idea to inspect and repair your roof. If you do not know how to do this yourself, you are better off hiring a professional for the job. When inspecting your roof, you want to make sure that the shingles are in good shape and that they are not loose.
24) Inspect and Repair Your Fireplace
While you are on the roof, check around the chimney area if you have a fireplace. You should consider hiring a professional to inspect and clean your chimney and fireplace prior to use during the winter and fall. You should also repair any small cracks in the chimney using refractory cement.
25) Inspect and Replace the Siding
If you have vinyl siding, then you should inspect it each fall for damage. If you find any damage, you should repair or replace the damaged section. You should also check underneath the siding if you suspect moisture damage.
26) Pressure Wash Your Home’s Exterior
After you inspect and repair your siding, it is a good idea to pressure wash it. Over time, dirt, mold, and mildew can build up on the exterior of your home. Using a pressure washer allows you to easily clean these substances off. If you do not know how to properly use a pressure washer, then you are better off hiring a professional to do the job.
27) Paint the Outside of Your Home
If you find extensive wear on the outside of your home while looking it over, you should consider painting it before winter starts. A new coat of paint can help protect the exterior of your home from damage due to inclement weather. This is an instance where you might be better off hiring a professional painter.
28) Stock up on Salt for Your Driveway and Walkways
If you live in an area that experiences snow and ice during the winter, then you should consider stocking up on salt to spread on your driveway and walkways. Make sure not to wait until winter weather is on the way, though, since many stores sell out quickly in such cases.
29) Rodent-Proof Your Home
As you inspect the outside of your home, look for points of entry for mice and other rodents. If you notice any holes or damaged screens, repair them. Fill any holes with steel wool, and patch the surrounding hole. In addition, repair any damaged wire mesh or vent covers.
30) Replace Your Windows
If you have any broken windows or glass, the fall is an optimum time to replace them. For this job, you are better off hiring a professional to install them. That way, your windows will be level and open and close like they should.
31) Install Storm Windows
You could go the extra mile and replace your regular windows with storm windows. Most often you don’t even need to install a whole new window when installing a storm window. The way a storm window works is that they mount to the inside or outside of a normal window and provide extra insulation from the cold outside, making them very more energy efficient.
32) Seal Your Windows
While repairing and replacing the windows in your home, you should also take the time to seal them properly from outside drafts. You can do this by caulking any cracks or chips around your windows. You can also keep out drafts by installing weatherstripping around your outside doors.
33) Add Insulation Where Needed
While sealing your home against the cold weather outside, you should also check the level of the insulation in your attic. If it is below the level of the joists, add more to keep your home warmer. When adding insulation, you want to aim for a depth of anywhere from 10 to 14 inches.
34) Organize Your Mudroom
The mudroom is the area in many homes where shoes and boots are left to keep from tracking mud into your home. You can prepare this area for winter by putting out a large mat to keep water and dirt off of the floor, as well as a large tray to place wet and dirty boots and shoes in. You should also have a place to hang coats, scarves, and other winter attire when not in use.
35) Clean Your Dryer Vent
You should clean out your dryer vents to make sure they do not have a buildup of lint. To do this, use a specially designed brush and a vacuum. Alternatively, you can use a wire hanger as long as you are careful not to damage the vent. Or you could just hire a professional to do the job for you.
36) Drain Your Water Heater
You should also drain your hot water heater to remove any sediment, such as lime and other minerals, that might have built up in the bottom. Not only can this buildup make your water heater less efficient, it can also cause leaks down the road. You might consider hiring a professional for this job, especially if you have no experience with the task.
37) Bleed Your Radiators
If you have radiators inside of your home, you might need to bleed the air out of them before use in the winter. Start by turning off the heat, and then engage the bleed valve using the radiator key. Once the hissing has stopped and a stream of water has come out of the radiator, you can close the valve back up.
38) Check Your Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Detectors
Before winter starts, check all of the smoke and carbon monoxide detectors in your home. This is especially important if you have older gas heaters, which can produce a small amount of carbon monoxide. Check smoke and carbon monoxide detectors at least two times a year, in the spring and in the fall.
39) Change the Direction of Your Ceiling Fans
Change the direction that the blades on your ceiling fans turn to help create an updraft, pushing the warmer air near the ceiling back down toward the floor. You should have your blades set to turn clockwise during the winter and counterclockwise during the summer.
40) Clean Your Carpet
Before you seal up your house for the winter, make sure to give the carpets a good cleaning. The carpeting in your house can harbor dust and mold, which can make allergies worse. If you can, rent a carpet cleaner, or even hire some professionals to do the job for you.
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Taking care of your house year round starts in the fall. The fall is one of the best times to make necessary repairs and seal it against the cold, winter weather. Make sure to do the previously mentioned projects to ensure your house is ready for winter.