Fall is one of the loveliest times of year in our region, but it’s also time to make certain your home’s in good shape to weather the elements. Here’s a checklist to be sure your house is fully prepped, along with a few handy tips for gardeners!
1. Fix cracks in concrete and asphalt: depending on where you live, these may be the last weeks this year when it will be warm and sunny enough to repair driveway and sidewalk cracks.
2. Clean out the gutters: no one loves this job, but we all need to do it annually. A few hours of work can prevent big problems later on. While you’re up on that ladder, visually inspect your roof for damaged shingles, flashing or vents. You can also inspect the chimney for any missing mortar and repair it by tuck-pointing, if needed.
3. Turn off outdoor plumbing: drain outdoor faucets and sprinkler systems, and cover them to protect them from the freezing weather to come.
4. Start composting: if you don’t already have compost bins, now’s the time to make or get some. All those accumulated autumn leaves will bring you gardening gold next summer!
5. Clean outdoor furniture and gardening tools: it may not yet be time to put them away, but go ahead and clean your outdoor furniture and gardening tools so they’re ready for storage over the winter.
6. Plant bulbs for spring-blooming flowers: plant bulbs in October, as soon as the soil has cooled down, to reap big rewards next spring. If you’ve never planted bulbs before, select a spot in your yard that gets full sun during the day.
7. Prepare your furnace for winter duty: if you didn’t already do it last spring, consider getting your furnace professionally serviced in time for the cold season. At the minimum, though, visually inspect your furnace and replace the furnace filter before turning it on for the first time.
8. Clean the fireplace and chimney: clean out the fireplace, inspect the flue, and ensure the doors and shields are sound. Have the chimney professionally swept if needed. Now’s also the time to stock up on firewood!
9. Keep the warm air inside and the cold air outside: inspect your windows and doors. Check 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 weather stripping isn’t doing its job.
Also, now’s the time to re-caulk around windows and door casings, if needed.
10. Light the way: bring as much light into your home as you can for the colder, darker months. To accentuate natural light, clean your windows and blinds, especially in rooms that get a lot of sunlight.
Add lighting to darker spaces with new lamps. And consider replacing traditional incandescent light bulbs with energy-efficient bulbs.
11. Create a mudroom: even if you don’t have a dedicated mudroom in your home, now’s a good time to think about organizing and stocking an entryway that will serve as a “mudroom” area for cold and wet weather.
Put down an indoor-outdoor rug to protect the floor. A fun and rewarding weekend project is to build a wooden shoe rack, coat rack or storage bench for your entryway.
12. Home safety check: replace the batteries in your smoke alarms and carbon monoxide monitors. A good way to remember to do this is to always replace the batteries when you change the clock for daylight saving time. Create a family fire escape plan, or review the one you already have. Put together an emergency preparedness kit so that you are ready for winter power outages.
It might seem like a lot to tackle, but once you finish with your autumn home checklist, you’ll be ready to enjoy the season in your warm, comfortable home.