As the first few leaves begin to change color, it’s clear that we are entering into a season of change. The longer, warmer days of summer are giving way to the crisp, colorful afternoons of autumn. As we prepare to go back to school and pull our cold-weather gear out of storage, our homes need a little preparation as well.
Before the fall kicks into full gear, there are a few changes you can make to your property to make sure it’s equipped to handle the cooler temperatures, falling foliage and more. Today, let’s take a look at five simple steps to take to make sure your home is cozy and safe this season.
1. Inspect your gutters.
Before the trees begin shedding their leaves, now is the time to make sure your gutters are in tip-top shape. Carefully prop up a ladder and take a look at the condition of yours, then clean them out to your best capacity. While no one particularly enjoys this job, it can make all the difference in how effective your gutters are moving forward.
While you’re up there inspecting, take note of your roof’s conditions. Are there any shingles loose or missing? What about your flashing or vents? Even these seemingly small concerns can control how well your home retains heat when it’s most needed. The same applies to your chimney. If there is any mortar cracked or missing, consider hiring a professional to tuck-point and correct it.
2. Turn off your outdoor faucets.
You took care to follow summer plumbing tips. You inspected your gas lines and water hoses, checked the sprinkler for leaks and ensured that the bathrooms stayed free of costly clogs. Yet, did you know there are also plumbing steps to take in the fall? These are a little different, but just as essential.
The reality is that your outdoor plumbing could freeze after just one cold snap. While these will likely not hit until further into the season, there is the possibility for an early autumn cold front to come through, especially if you live in northern regions of the country. Go ahead and drain, then turn off your outdoor faucets, as well as any connected sprinkler systems. You can also buy inexpensive styrofoam covers to install over the fixtures to ensure they do not freeze and crack. When the springtime comes and it’s time to ramp the outdoor water use up again, you’ll be glad you followed these preventative measures.
3. Plant your spring bulbs now.
It may seem counterproductive, but the fall is actually the ideal time to plant those springtime bulbs you want to decorate your sidewalk in the spring. If possible, wait and plant your bulbs in October, after the soil has had adequate time to cool down from the hot summer months. Ideally, look for a spot in your yard that takes full sun. From daffodils to tulips, bulb flowers crave sunshine and require plenty of it to perk up. These look especially inviting when planted along a front pathway, around a tree or in rows together in your spring garden.
4. Service your furnace.
Your furnace is one of those household appliances you don’t exactly think about until it conks out on you. To avoid being stranded in the freezing cold this winter, huddled under a pile of blankets, go ahead and have yours serviced by a professional now. A technician can help inspect and find any hidden issues, and is well-versed on system upkeep.
Even if you don’t invest in an expert maintenance call, at the very least inspect your furnace for visible issues, then address any you find. This is also the time to replace your furnace filter before you turn it on for the first time all season. Along the same lines, clean out your fireplace and chimney thoroughly before creating your first real fire of the season. Inspect your flue for any damage, then make sure the doors and heat shield are all working securely.
5. Inspect your doors and windows.
Autumn and winter are the two seasons in which you want your home to retain as much heat as possible. Anything less and you are literally throwing money right out of your window. To this end, inspect any point in your home where air could escape, paying close attention to your doors and windows. If necessary, replace their weatherstripping to make them more effective and insulated.
Unsure if your weatherstripping needs an upgrade? Try the door trick. Place a piece of paper in your entryway and then close the door. Can you move the paper back and forth easily? If so, yours isn’t lock-tight and needs to be replaced. You may also need to apply more caulk around your door casings and window casings if you find you’re losing heat in those locations. If you have more time and money to invest, you may want to consider upgrading your windows to new, energy-efficient models to help your home keep in even more heat in the months to come.
Prepping Your Home for Autumn and Beyond
Having a season-ready home can make a substantial difference in how much you enjoy your property in the months to come. Your house should be a haven of peace and comfort regardless of the season. While there are still a few weeks of warm weather left, now is the time to take care of those outdoor tasks and get your interior systems ramped up for their big, seasonal debut. By taking a few proactive measures ahead of time, you can relax confidently with a warm mug of cider when autumn officially does roll around.