Now’s the time to prepare your home for the colder months to come. We know it can be daunting to track every task you need to tackle, we’ve put together our fall checklist to help you get organized, so you can get it done. So, before you pull out the holiday lights and warm up some hot chocolate, spend some time ensuring that your home is protected for the changing season. It may even help prevent catastrophes, and possibly even save you some $$$.
Indoor Fall Checklist:
1. Prepare Your Furnace For Winter
Consider getting your furnace professionally serviced and ready for the colder months now. If you aren’t planning on having a professional come inspect your furnace, make a point of visually inspecting your furnace and replacing the furnace filter.
Here are some signs that it’s time to call a professional:
- Your Home Just Isn’t Heating Up: If your furnace doesn’t seem to work as well as it has in the past that could be a sign of various problems.
- Your Furnace Is Noisy: Unusual sounds such as screeches or whines could be a signal that belts connected to the blower motor are worn or damaged.
- Erratic Behavior: This could be caused by a faulty thermostat or a misadjusted furnace but only a professional can identify the root of the problem.
2. Clean The Fireplace & Chimney
Before your first fire make sure your fireplace is safe and ready to be used. Take some time to clean out and inspect your fireplace and wood fire stove.
Inspect the flue for creosote, a flammable by-product of burning wood. Accumulation of too much creosote in a flue or chimney can result in a devastating fire. Get your chimney inspected annually (or more, depending on use) for creosote buildup to ensure your health and safety.
Finally, check your chimney for damage or flue blockages. Ensure the flue cap (the screen or baffle covering the top of the chimney) is in place. These are popular places for animals, such as birds, to take up residence and better to find out now. If you have a brick chimney, break out your binoculars and inspect your chimney for loose or broken joints.
And remember, when in doubt, call a professional to come to inspect and sweep your chimney.
3. Keep The Warm Air Inside & The Cold Air Outside
Sealing up a drafty house can save up to 20% on your heating bills, according to the U.S. Department of Energy.
You can inspect your windows for drafts by lighting a stick of incense or candle and holding it up to your closed windows, if the smoke or flame ‘moves’, you have a draft. If you do discover a draft, seal any gaps with caulk and if replacing the caulk does not solve the problem, it may be time to consider replacing your windows.
If your windows are not as insulated as you would like and replacing them is not an option, now would be a great time to purchase and install plastic film window insulating kits.
Weatherstripping is an easy and cost-effective way to cut reducing drafts. You can check the weatherstripping by opening a door, placing a piece of paper in the entryway, and closing the door. The paper should not slide back and forth easily. If it does, the weatherstripping isn’t doing its job.
4. Avoid Gas Problems
If you utilize a gas heater, fall is the right time to have a professional check your gas heaters. Not keeping them in shape will not only cost you extra cash to run, but it could also cost you your health by emitting toxic gases into your home. To help keep it running in between professional services, you will want to check the air-shutter openings and exhaust vents for dust and dirt. Give the air passages to the burner a vacuum and clean the burner. Finally, follow any other advice the manufacturer offers.
5. Review Your Home’s Safety
It’s time to perform a complete review of your home’s safety features and go over any emergency plans such as your fire evacuation plan.
Some things to check:
- Smoke and carbon monoxide detectors
- Fire extinguishers
- Clean up any fire risks such as dry leaves
- Review the storage of fire risks, hazardous materials, and any poisons
6. Clean and Reverse Ceiling Fan Blades
To be honest, when’s the last time you even looked at the blades of your ceiling fans? Ceiling fans get pretty dirty. To clean them, use an extension pole and duster to clean them off. Then, push the switch on the side of the motor housing to reverse their direction, causing the blades to rotate clockwise, pulling warm air down from the ceiling.
7. Give Your AC Unit A Rinse
Just like your ceiling fans, a summer of heavy-duty usage has your AC unit looking a bit rough around the edges. Get rid of the dirt, pollen, dust, and who knows what else by spending a few minutes rinsing it off and preparing it for next summer.
Outdoor Fall Checklist:
1. Fix Any Flaws In Your Driveway and Foot Paths
If you haven’t already, this is your last chance to repair any driveway and sidewalk cracks before the temperatures drop. We recommend taking some time to check your driveway and/or footpaths for any cracks, disintegration, or washed-out materials. You can likely handle most cracks or smaller jobs with some DIY motivation. And if you’re thinking those small cracks aren’t worth the trouble, we’d like to remind you that when water freezes in a small crack it will expand, expanding the crack as well.
2. Inspect your roof.
What was the one fear you had when you bought your first home? We’re guessing roof problems come to mind. Then add winter into the mix and it’s truly a nightmare. With that in mind, now’s the time to inspect your roof in as much detail as possible. Look for damage in metal flashing, scan for missing or damaged shingles, thinning coatings, and any other damage or wear and tear that could make winter worse.
3. Clean, Inspect & Possibly Replace Your Gutters
When’s the last time you even thought about your gutters? It’s ok, most people don’t think about their gutters until they have. Clogged gutters can lead to damaged exterior surfaces, water in your basement, foundation issues, and are more prone to rust and corrosion. Take some time to give your gutters a look over, clean them, install gutter guards, and if necessary, have them replaced.
4. Touch up exterior paint
Touching up your exterior paint can prolong the life of your siding and trim by protecting you from the elements. The key is to get this to-do done before the temperature drops below 50 degrees when most paints are no longer suitable.
5. Clean Outdoor Furniture & Tools
If you have a fire pit, you may not be putting your outdoor furniture away for the season just yet but you’ll want to get everything cleaned before you turn off your outdoor plumbing. Saving you some time when you do store them away for winter.
6. Wash Your Windows and Inspect Screens
Over the spring and summer, your screens have been through a lot and have built up some grossness. You could save this for spring, or you could save the trouble and tackle your screens now. All you need is a bucket, a squeegee, a streak-free cleaner for the windows, and some elbow grease. This is also a good opportunity to check your screens for damage and repair them if you live in an area that gets hail.
7. Prep Your Lawn For Winter & Plant Your Spring Flower Bulbs
If you want to have a green lawn and lush garden come early spring, you’ll have to put some work in now.
Raking leaves and aerating soil will prevent your lawn and garden beds from suffocating under snow. While applying mulch and fertilizer now will nourish your plants’ roots and help protect your plants from winter damage.
8. Start Composting, Your Garden Will Thank You
If you don’t already have compost bins, now’s the time to make or get some.
9. Clean Your Storage Areas, Shed, & Garage
Clean your storage areas, such as your garage, basement, attics, and shed so they are organized and ready for the season. While you don’t have to leave them sparkling, a general clean and look over will help make sure you won’t have any ‘house guests’ for the winter, have room for your outdoor furniture storage, and that you can get to any seasonal decorations (because you will not want to be digging in your shed, outside, in December).
10. Test Your Winter Equipment
Save some trouble come the first snowfall and make sure any winter equipment, like your snowblower, is working properly.
11. Store Your Outdoor Furniture
Store your outdoor furniture, inflatable pools, trampolines, and other larger outdoor items before it’s too late in the season, or invest in some decent waterproof covers if you are not able to store them.
12. Stock Up & Store Your Firewood
It’s time to stock up and store your firewood for the winter. Demand will surely rise as the temperature drops, so stocking up now to save some time and stress.
13. Turn Off Your Outdoor Plumbing
Take a few moments to drain and disconnect all garden hoses from outside spigots and sprinkler systems to prevent freezing. Not doing this can result in pipes bursting. Which is a preventable nightmare.
Now that you’re armed with our fall checklist, it’s time to get to work and while you’re taking care of your home, it’s worth taking a moment to review your coverage and make any changes you may need to make.