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Do you have a fall checklist to make sure your home is prepared for the colder months to come?
If you answered no, you’ve probably been trying your best to ignore the fact that the sun is setting earlier every day and those sunrises are later and later every morning. Whether we’re ready to admit it or not, fall has arrived. But before you break out the pumpkin carving kit and flannel to cozy up next to your fire pit, there are a few things you should be doing around your house to prepare for the changing season, help prevent catastrophes, and maybe even save you some $$$.
While it can be daunting to track every task you need to tackle to prepare your home for fall and winter, but with a little bit of preparation, it doesn’t have to be stressful. The team at ZYYAH has put together a fall checklist of everything you need to know about managing your home as the cooler weather creeps in, the leaves start to fall, and we get closer and closer to winter.
You can consider this your go-to fall checklist for home management:
Outdoor Fall Checklist:
1. Fix Any Flaws In Your Driveway and Foot Paths
Depending on where you live, these next few weeks might be your last chance to repair any driveway and sidewalk cracks before the temperatures drop further. Take some time to check your driveway and/or footpaths for any cracks, disintegration, or washed-out materials. Most cracks or smaller jobs are easy for any DIYer to tackle (thanks to YouTube University). If you’re thinking a few small cracks are no big deal, remember that when water freezes in a small crack it will expand, expanding the crack as well.
2. Inspect your roof.
Nothing strikes fear into homeowners like a roof problem, then add winter into the mix and it’s a nightmare. 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 haunt your home life come winter.
3. Clean, Inspect & Possibly Replace Your Gutters
Let’s be honest, you’ve been taking your gutters for granted. You’re not alone, most people do… until they stop working. Clogged gutters can lead to damaged exterior surfaces, water in your basement, foundation issues, and are more prone to rust and corrosion. So before the leaves start falling, 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
You may not be putting them 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
Summer dust, storms, and pollen have built up on your windows and screens all spring and summer long. Save yourself from having to tackle this to-do come early spring (ie when it’s still cold) by conquering it now. All you need is a bucket, a squeegee, and a streak-free cleaner for the windows. This is also a good time to check your screens for any damage and/or remove them if you live in an area that gets hail.
7. Prep Your Lawn For Winter & Plant Your Spring Flower Bulbs
Prepare your lawn and garden for next spring and summer this fall, yes really.
While you may not be able to see it above the soil, your lawn and plants’ roots are still going. Raking leaves and aerating soil will prevent your lawn and garden beds from suffocating. While applying mulch and fertilizer now will nourish and help protect your plants from winter damage, allowing them to spring back when the weather warms up (pun absolutely intended).
If you are planning on planting bulbs for some beautiful spring flowers nows is the time to double-check your planting schedule (each region’s recommendations will vary) and order/purchase your bulbs. Once the soil has cooled down, it’ll be time to plant and you’ll want to be ready.
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. Just think of how much garden goodness all of those autumn leaves will create if composted.
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 your future self some trouble and make sure any winter equipment, like your snowblower, is working properly.
11. Store Your Outdoor Furniture
Don’t test the warranty on your outdoor furniture by leaving it all to the elements. 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 inside.
12. Stock Up & Store Your Firewood
If you love a good bonfire or have a fireplace that gets some good use in the colder months, 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 will save you from having to hunt.
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 any water freezing. Not doing this can result in pipes bursting. Which is a preventable nightmare.
Indoor Fall Checklist:
1. Prepare Your Furnace For Winter
Consider getting your furnace professionally serviced and ready for the colder months now. By scheduling this service in the early fall you’ll be able to avoid the last-minute rush when the heating season begins.
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 you can roast chestnuts, you need to 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.
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.
When in doubt, call a professional to come to inspect and sweep your chimney.
3. Keep The Warm Air Inside & The Cold Air Outside
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 replace 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 your heating costs by 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.
Once your home is keeping the warmth in and the cold out, you can curl up with some cocoa knowing, you’ll save some $$$ on your heating bill this winter.
4. Avoid Gas Problems
If you utilize a gas heater, fall is the right time to have a professional check your gas heaters. Keeping them in tip-top shape will not only cost you extra cash to run, but it could also cost you your health by spewing 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
If you haven’t already, 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 & Carbon Monoxide Detectors
– Fire Extinguishers
– Clean up any fire risks such as lint within your dryer duct
– Review the storage of fire risks, hazardous materials, and any poisons
6. Shampoo Your Carpets
While this doesn’t really have anything to do with preparing for the colder months, now is the perfect time to give your rugs and carpets a refresh. The humid summer days are a thing of the past and the cooler days of fall make it easier to open up your windows to help your freshly shampooed carpet dry faster, avoiding mildew.
7. 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 due to a summer of usage. 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.
8. 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.
Managing your home can be overwhelming, the team at ZYYAH gets that. Wanting to simplify your homeownership journey is what has driven us to develop the ZYYAH app. Learn more about our mission here.