Fall Home Projects - Get Ready for Winter with our Checklist
Fall Home Projects—the Ultimate List to Get you Ready for Winter
Fall and winter can provide a welcome reprieve for homeowners from the hard labor of their summer projects. But before you relax too much and put your feet up for the season, take some time while the weather is still nice to ready your home for winter months. Your house, yard, garage, and equipment all need a little TLC to keep them in good working order for the coming seasons.
Clean Chimney and Fireplace
Keeping your chimney and fireplace clean aren’t just maintenance items, they’re safety items. This is one home project that is better left to the pros. A yearly inspection and cleaning by trained professionals will guarantee you safety and peace of mind for the winter.
Insulate Attic or Walls
Fall is a great time to add attic or wall insulation to your home. Not only will it provide warmth by making your home more energy efficient, it will reduce your heating bills. DIY options are available—just contact your local hardware store. Insulation blowers can be rented for a reasonable fee, but professionals will get it done faster and more efficiently, whether you’re doing blown-in or stud-stapled insulation.
Weatherize Doors and Windows
Weatherizing your doors and windows keeps draft out and reduces your heating bills. Recaulking around windows, replacing broken seals and gaskets, and sealing gaps between doorjambs and walls all reduce draft in your home. Adding weatherstripping to exterior doors also helps retain heat, and if you have old-fashioned glazed windows, repair any cracked or missing glazing putty.
Inspect, Repair or Upgrade Furnace
Unless you are super mechanical, furnace inspection should be left to the pros. If you have an oil furnace, make sure you do this each year, and find a repair person who is specifically trained in oil. For propane and natural gas, use the manufacturer’s maintenance recommendations for scheduling your inspection. Of course, you should regularly change filters in both the furnace and the humidifier if you have one.
Winterize Air Conditioning Units
Most homeowners can do basic air conditioner winterizing themselves using only an air or water hose and some rags. You will want to turn off the switch for the winter so that it doesn’t inadvertently run on a warm day, which could cause freezing issues should the weather turn cold. Read our blog post about winterizing air conditioners for more information.
Check for Holes in House (Foundation, Interior, Exterior) – Eliminate Rodent Access
Any cracks in your foundation can give mice and other rodents access over the winter (when they will be looking for a warm home). Tiny holes even 3/8-inch wide can allow entry of mice or bats. If you already have an issue, consider calling a professional, and if you have foundation damage, you may need to talk to a concrete specialist.
Replace Bad Outdoor Caulk
Bad caulk around trim, windows, and doors can allow moisture in and cause structural damage up the road. Remove any bad caulk and put some fresh paintable silicone on it for the winter. Be sure to use high-grade caulk with at least a 25-year warranty. Not all caulk is created equal.
Wash your windows on the outside (and inside). You’ll be glad you did as the winter progresses. If they are numerous or if you have a multi-story home, consider hiring a professional.
Clean Roof and Siding (One Last Time)
Power washing your roof and siding will keep it looking great over the winter. This is something to do in the spring/summer as well. If you don’t have a power washer, you can purchase or rent one at a hardware store—or hire a pro.
Clean Gutters and Downspouts
Gutter cleaning is important in the late fall as the leaves and debris have likely clogged them. With melting snow an inevitability, clean gutters ensure proper drainage all winter long. Gutter-cleaning kits and add-on accessories for some models of weed trimmers are available, but if you aren’t keen on ladders, you might want to consider hiring a pro or handyman.
Yard and Garden
Scrape Paint/Stain Patio
If your patio is looking dingy or missing paint or stain, fall is the time to tend to it as the harsh winter weather will only deteriorate it further. This is a great DIY project if you have time.
Clean and Store (or Cover) Patio Furniture
You invested in patio furniture for your outdoor entertaining, so you likely want to keep it in good, usable condition. Hose it off for the winter and, either store in garage if you have room, or purchase patio covers to protect it from the elements.
Clean and Store Barbecue (or Cover)
Remove the grease and grime from your barbecue and store in garage if you won’t be using for the winter. If you are a fan of cold-weather outdoor cooking, however, buy a cover for it and enjoy your winter grilling.
Asphalt driveways usually need to be sealed once a year. In the summer months, it’s often too hot as asphalt can become sticky. Fall is the perfect time to complete this task (do it before the weather gets too cold). This is a good DIY Saturday task, but if you’d rather watch football, hire a pro.
Fertilize and Seed Lawn
Grass needs plant sugar and potassium over the winter to feed its roots. Late fall is the best time to apply it. Ask your gardening center what type of fertilizer is best for your climate. Fall is also the best time (if you live in a cold climate) to repair any sparse patches of grass by overseeding (spreading seed over existing lawn). It doesn’t require as much watering as summer-planted seed. You can spread thin layers of soil (up to ½-inch thick) and add seed on top. There are several methods of overseeding. You can find out more from your gardening center.
Fall is the ideal to trim and prune many (but not all) trees. Be sure to research your species of tree before pruning. Smaller trees can be cut with a pruning saw. Pole-type pruning saws are also available, as are pole-secured chainsaws. If you aren’t comfortable with this, hire an arborist or a tree trimmer (and know that they have different skills). Hire the pro that is right for you.
Trim Perennials and Mulch Garden
Trim your perennials properly for proper spring growth according to recommendations for your plant(s). This varies from perennial to perennial. Fall is also a good time to replace mulch in your garden. When removing old mulch, provided it is natural and not dyed, you can sometimes add it to your compost bin. If you have large areas to mulch, this might be an occasion to hire a landscaping company.
Rake and Remove Leaves
Rake and remove leaves according to your lifestyle. Depending on your lawn, you may prefer to mow over them and mulch. If you have a lot of trees, you may have an overabundance of leaves. Leaves can be used in composting or burned (if it’s permitted in your local codes). Most trash services will take them if they are properly bagged (check with your service).
Store Garden Hoses and Tools
Be sure to drain all the water from your garden hoses to extend their life and hang them properly in your shed or garage. If you don’t own a garage, outdoor resin storage chests can be used. Clean your tools and store on a wall rack or some other dry location.
Drain Water from Outdoor Faucets
Drain water from your outdoor faucets using a bleed valve (if you have old-style faucets). Install frost-proof faucets with anti-siphon valves for less maintenance and a longer life.
Organize Shed and Garage
Chances are, your gardening tools, sports equipment, bikes and other summer items are not as organized as they were at the start of summer. Fall is a good time to round them up and get organized for the season. Home Maintenance Equipment
Winterize Lawn Equipment
Your mowers, weed trimmers, hedgers and other equipment need care before the winter. Empty gas by running equipment and replace with a winterizing fuel such as Fuel-all. Be sure to check the engine-type for a correct match. Remove batteries from equipment and use a trickle charger so when spring comes, you won’t need to call a repair person or buy a new battery. Clean off all grass with an air hose or by some other means if you don’t have a compressor.
Prep Winter Outdoor Equipment
Snow blowers need a seasonal oil change for proper operation. Charge batteries if they are dead, and make sure the tires are properly aired. Buy new fuel shortly before the first snow, as old fuel will not run properly in your equipment. Most spark plugs can be freshened using some sandpaper if you know how to do remove them. If not, you can buy a new one and change it.
For Pool Owners:
If you are a swimming pool owner, you will need to drain and clean your pool and apply a cover to keep the snow and debris out until next spring/summer.
For Lake Dwellers:
Remove Dock/Winterize or Wrap Boat
If you own lake property, you may have a removable dock/boat lift that needs winterizing or a boat to tend to. Whether you have a commercially-made boat cover or prefer to shrinkwrap it, this is the time to remove your boat from the lake and secure it from the elements. Cables should be inspected on a boat lift, and, depending on your brand and whether or not the lake will freeze, you may need to disassemble and store it for the winter.
Being a homeowner is a lot of work. While this can be rewarding, these tasks sometimes feel overwhelming too. If the latter is the case, consider checking out our free quotes for many of the home service tasks listed above. Obtaining multiple quotes only requires a couple minutes of your time for the hours of time you’ll save when hiring professionals to do your work.