Home Ownership

How to Prep Your Home for Fall and Winter

The leaves are changing, the air is getting colder and it won’t be long before the snow starts falling – which means you need to get started on your fall home maintenance.

You can lay out the pumpkins, change up your decor and leave pots of mums or decorative kale to grace your front steps, but the real prep work for the cold months has just begun. If you’re not sure what to prioritize, we’ve got some suggestions that could prove useful.

Without further delay:

✔️ Clean Your Gutters

Clogged gutters are probably the number one cause of wet basements and damp walls, so make this a priority process as soon as the leaves are off the trees. 

This is also a good time of the year to get an expert evaluation of your entire drainage system. You may want to invest in gutter guards (which keep the leaves out in the first place) or add downspout extenders to keep the water even further away from your home.

✔️ Check Out Your Chimney

There’s nothing cozier than sitting around a warm fire when it’s cold and damp (or snowy and white) outside – but you shouldn’t light the first fire of the season until you’ve had your chimney cleaned and inspected for safety.

This is also a great time to check your firewood supply. If you have old firewood from the prior year, you need to make sure it isn’t rotten. If your supply has dwindled, get an order in before the weather turns bitter.

✔️ Plug Up Any Drafts

Energy prices have been skyrocketing, so this is the time of the year when you should start looking for air leaks – especially in an older home. Weatherstripping is cheap and easy to apply, and the time you spend now making sure that air leaks around windows and doors are plugged could save you hundreds of dollars over the season.

It’s also a good time to put up plastic sheeting over the garage, basement and attic windows and closed-in porches. A little extra-thick plastic can help keep the winter winds at bay and make your heating costs this winter more reasonable.

✔️ Tend to Your Outdoor Furniture

Patio and garden furniture is expensive to replace, so even though it’s advertised as “all-weather” furniture, you’re well-advised to tuck it all into storage in the garage or shed for the season.

If that’s not an option, you can still extend the life of your outdoor furniture by using waterproof covers secured by flexible cords on everything you can. Garden statuary should also be brought inside or covered to protect them from cracking during the freeze-thaw cycles of the season.

✔️ Test All the Equipment

What equipment? Well, there’s probably a small list of tools that you rely on for comfort and safety during the cold months, and you don’t want to find out that they’re not working right the hard way. This means:

  • Test the leaf blower and the snowblower before you need them
  • Run a check on your carbon monoxide detector (or replace it if it’s getting old)
  • Change the batteries in all your smoke detectors and add new ones where necessary
  • Check your fire extinguishers’ expiration dates (particularly if you use your fireplace)

If you run through this list now, you won’t have to worry about being stuck in your driveway after the first snow or a house fire catching you unaware.

✔️ Drain the Faucets and Wrap Your Pipes

If you have a pool, you’ve probably already shut it down and drained it – but now you need to tend to your sprinklers and your faucets. Sprinkler lines need to be blown out and the water valves to your outside spigots need to be closed. Then, open your outside spigots and make sure they’re empty.

Don’t forget to drain your garden hoses and wrap those up for the winter, as well. It’s also a good time to check the insulation on your indoor pipes. If any of them aren’t properly wrapped, that’s a quick job that could save you thousands in water damage remediation later.

✔️ Have Your Heating System Inspected

It can be a hassle to arrange to have a licensed heating contractor come over and check out your system – and it seems like an unnecessary expense when everything is running smoothly.

It’s still a good idea to do this every fall. Small repairs now can save you from major problems in the middle of winter (and the last thing you want is for the heating system to conk out on you during the worst cold snap of the season).

✔️ Get the Yard Ready for Spring

Believe it or not, even when you’re prepping for winter, you need to keep spring in mind. While the fruits of your labor won’t necessarily be visible until the days get longer again, a bit of foresight on your part will definitely pay off.

If you want a lush, beautiful yard in the coming year, this is the perfect time to overseed and fertilize your lawn. It’s also the time of year when you should wrap young trees and rose bushes to protect them from the winter storms, and plant your favorite bulbs for gorgeous spring flowers.

When you’re a property owner, it can seem like the work is never done. You barely get done mowing the lawn for the summer and it’s time to rake up the leaves. In the end, however, you get the joy of seeing your investment become more than just a house, but a true home – where your family can thrive and grow for years to come.