Preparing for Fall

Preparing Your Home for Fall and Cooler Temperatures

By SaleCore for MiamiRE

While the beautiful and gently tumbling leaves of Autumn seem so peaceful, they should also alert homeowners that cooler temperatures are quickly approaching. Because the typical household is consumed with work, family, activities, etc., it’s easy for home maintenance to fall to the bottom of the priority list. While it would be ideal if preparing your home was as simple as hanging a wreath and lighting a pumpkin spice candle, there are many more tasks that must be dealt with before transitioning from hot Summer days to cool Fall evenings, and eventually cold Winter nights. Preparing your home does not have to be stressful, and by taking care of these maintenance projects now, you will save on energy costs, avoid costly repairs, and feel confident that you’ll be warm and comfortable when the colder weather arrives.

Close up of person pulling leaves out of a rain gutter with their hands

Outdoor Maintenance

Take advantage of the mild temperatures you still have and start with your outdoor maintenance projects. You can likely accomplish these in one weekend, and can then move on to your indoor projects.

  • Clear Debris from the Roof and Gutters: Clear your roof and gutters of any leaves, twigs, rocks, and other debris to prevent the gutters from becoming clogged and leading to ice dams. Ice dams cause melting water to back up and flow into your house, causing damage to your home, foundation, and basement. Tighten gutter hangers and downspout brackets, and replace any worn sections. Check that your downspouts extend at least five feet away from the foundation. If not, you can buy inexpensive extensions to attach to them.
  • Clean Air Conditioning Unit: If you used your air conditioner a lot during the Summer months, it has accumulated a great deal of dirt, pollen, dust, and other small particles. Take a few minutes to clean it up and spray it down thoroughly in preparation for next year.
Close up of person filling driveway cracks with a special device
  • Check Windows & Doors for Leaks: As the weather gets cooler, if your doors and windows are not properly sealed, your home will lose heat, causing your gas and heating bills to drastically increase. Walk the exterior of your home, checking for air tightness and carefully looking for cracks. An inexpensive tube of caulking or some weatherstripping can be a simple and cost-effective way to help prevent energy loss, as well as prevent moisture from getting inside the walls of your home. In addition, caulk and seal air leaks where plumbing, ducting or electrical wiring comes through walls or floors on the interior of your home.
  • Fix Driveway Cracks: As tedious as this may job seem, you don’t want to skip it. When water gets into cracks of your driveway and freezes, it expands and can make the crack even bigger. Many small cracks can turn into big cracks, and eventually the concrete will crumble. Catch it early on and use some concrete crack sealer to fill it up. Waiting will only lead you to a bigger and much more expensive fix, like replacing the entire driveway.
  • Clean and Store Outdoor Furniture/Other Items: Chances are, you spent good time and money to set up a relaxing backyard sanctuary, so protect it. Prevent cold weather damage by cleaning and storing your outdoor furniture in a garage or shed. If you don't have the extra space, safeguard them using waterproof covers. Leave out a few chairs and the fire pit to enjoy the cool outdoor weather with your family, but protect them when not in use. And, cover the pool so that it is nice and clean when next pool season rolls around.
Outdoor furniture covered up to weather proof
  • Maintain Sprinklers and Outdoor Faucets: Heading into these cooler months, you won’t water your lawn and garden as much as you had been in the Summer. The climate where you live will determine whether you need to turn your sprinkler system off entirely. If it’s not too cold, consider decreasing the sprinkler time and the number of days you water per week. If you, however, live in a cold climate, be sure to drain and disconnect all garden hoses from outside spigots to prevent any water freezing, and have your sprinkler system winterized. Not doing so can result in bursting pipes, which again can cause damage to your home and foundation, creating another big and expensive fix.
  • Fertilize the Lawn: With Fall here and the Winter months quickly approaching, you won’t need to mow and maintain your lawn as much as you did in the Spring and Summer months. However, the roots are still active when the grass isn't growing, so applying fertilizer will prevent Winter damage and Spring weeds. It also creates a rich environment for the microorganisms deep in your soil, keeping the soil and your lawn in good condition, creating deep thick green lawn all year round, and helping your lawn flourish faster in the Spring.
  • Plant Spring-Blooming Flowers Bulbs: There are several beautiful Spring-blooming flowers, but they must be planted at just the right time during the Fall. Some popular ones are the tulip, iris, daffodil, hyacinth, and lily. While it may seem strange to plant flowers before the cold weather hits, you’ll be glad you did when your yard is the most beautiful on the block come Spring.

Indoor Maintenance

Now that all the outdoor projects are complete, move indoors to take care of these simple tasks.

Close up of person installing new air filter into HVAC unit
  • Service Furnace: You probably haven’t had a need to heat your home for several months, therefore your furnace will need to be serviced. You don’t want to wake up on the coldest morning to find you have no heat. The checkup will also measure carbon monoxide leakage. Just be sure to test it before it gets too cold, so if you need to have it repaired for some reason, you aren’t doing it when your home is uncomfortably cold.
  • Change Filters: Be sure to change your filters regularly. If your filters are dirty and clogged, it's a challenge to keep your home at the temperature you want, therefore increasing your heating bill. New air filters will prolong the life of your units, make them work more efficiently, and maintain higher air quality. Replacement frequency depends on size of home, air quality, pets, and any health/allergy conditions.
  • Test Smoke Alarms/Carbon Monoxide Detectors: Cooler weather or not, you always want your home equipped for emergencies. But as you transition into Fall and Winter, now is a good time to replace the batteries in your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors. Once you've replaced the batteries, ensure that they are working properly by pressing the test button so that you know they will work efficiently and keep you and your loved ones safe.
Close up of a person installing a new battery into a smoke detector
  • Purchase a Programmable Thermostat: Having a programmable thermostat is absolutely worth the investment, especially once the weather cools down. If you set your thermostat back while you're away during the day, you could save up to 10% on your air conditioning/heating bill each year. Many programmable thermostats can even be accessed from on your phone, making it an invaluable addition to your "Smart Home".
  • Reverse Your Ceiling Fans: During the cooler months, warm air rises up to the ceiling fan while cool air will stay close to the ground. By flipping a switch and reversing your ceiling fan, cool air is forced up, and warmer air is pushed down.
  • Clean Out the Fireplace: Before you spark up the fireplace this Winter, make sure it's safe and ready to go. Your fireplace should be cleaned and inspected annually to ensure that there aren't any clogs or leaks, depending on the type of fireplace you use. It is recommended that you use a reputable and professional fireplace company that can clean it thoroughly and help prevent carbon monoxide buildup.
  • Organize Garage/Storage Unit: With the hustle and bustle of the Summer months, your garage could probably use some tidying up. To store all the outdoor furniture, you’ll need quite a bit of space; not to mention that you won’t need your lawnmower, shovels, sprinkler equipment, and other tools for quite some time. Install some shelving or add some hooks to keep your garage more organized year-round. Then when Spring comes, everything should be easy to access.
Close up of womain holding a cup of hot coffee by a window on a rainy day
  • Remove Warm Clothes from Storage: As the seasons begin to change, it will be time trade in your tank tops for sweaters. This is a great time to sort through all of your warm-weather clothes and decide if you still want to keep everything you stored away. If you don't think you'll wear it this Fall or Winter, donate it to your local thrift store.

You can never be over-prepared, so the more maintenance you do now, the better. By preparing for Fall and Winter, you are prepping for Spring and Summer too, and hopefully avoiding costly repairs and problems in the future. Get these projects accomplished at your earliest convenience, and your home will be warm and cozy for Winter. Then head to the store and load up on hot chocolate and some good books.

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