12 Things You Should Do to Your Home Before Fall Starts

McMahon Fall HomeAs we approach autumn, you’ll want to ensure your home is ready for the months ahead. Even though summer is not quite over, it’s a good time to do some seasonal maintenance.

Preparation is everything. Mother Nature has been unpredictable lately. Start now, spread out these chores over two or three weekends, then rest assured your home is ready to handle whatever the season brings. Consider these chores before your house transitions from hot summer days to cool fall nights … and eventually freezing temperatures.

1)     Get Your HVAC Serviced

Hire an HVAC professional to test for leaks, check heating efficiency, and change the filter. They can also do a carbon monoxide check to ensure air safety. It’s also a good idea to stock up on extra air filters and change them every few months. Your AC has been faithfully chugging along all summer. Now it’s time to give it a rest. Before you tuck it away for the winter, be sure to clean the coils. If your home has central air conditioning, (and you won’t need it any longer,) it may be necessary to cover your outdoor unit for winter. If you use window air conditioning units, remove them or cover to prevent air leaks.

2)     Bring your outdoor furniture in.

Yes, your furniture is outdoor furniture. No, that does not mean you should test the label by leaving it outside through hurricane-like weather and snowstorms. It cost you money and time to set that outdoor space up, so if you want to get another summer season out of it you should store it in a garage or shed. If you don’t have anywhere to store the items, you should cover it in a waterproof furniture cover.

3)     Clean your gutters and check water drainage

You’re so used to your gutters working properly — and draining thousands of gallons of water from your roof yearly — that you forget they could use a little TLC. If they’re clogged, you can end up with a flooded interior and damaged exterior. Remove leaves, nests, and debris from gutters and check for leaks.  Also check rainwater downspouts to make sure they are clear of obstructions and direct away from foundations.

4)     Check for drafts.

20-30% of heat is lost through windows. Feel for drafts and check caulk and seals around the edges of windows and doors. If you have a draft issue, weatherstripping is simple and probably the most cost-effective way to keep heating costs down.

5)     Drain your outdoor faucets.

Drain and disconnect all garden hoses from outside spigots to prevent any water freezing. Not doing this can result to pipes bursting. Even the most intrepid do-it-yourselfer shudders at the thought of a burst water pipe. If not immediately noticed, a ruptured pipe can be both expensive and time-consuming to clean up.

6)     Make sure outside vents are clear of weeds and leaves

You most likely haven’t needed to look at heating and other vents all summer, but now’s the time to make sure they didn’t get covered up with weeds or other debris, blocking important exhaust functions. Your risk of carbon monoxide poisoning increases dramatically if those vents are not allowed to work properly.

7)     Fix any cracks in your driveway.

This seems tedious but, cracks could very easily become a pothole. When water gets into cracks it freezes, expands, and can make the crack even bigger. Enough small cracks can turn into big cracks, and eventually the concrete can crumble. Use a concrete crack sealer, fill it up and that’s it.

8)     Change your filters.

Clean these filters monthly, not just before the fall. Disposable filters can be vacuumed one time before you replace it, and foam filters can just be vacuumed and don’t need to be replaced unless they are damaged. If the filter is metal or electrostatic, remove and wash it with a firm water spray. Furnace filters trap dust that would otherwise be deposited on your furniture, woodwork, and so on. Clogged filters make it harder to keep your home at a comfortable temperature, and can serious increase your utility bills. A simple monthly cleaning is all it takes to keep these filters breathing free and clear.

9)     Fertilize your lawn.

You know what they say: The best offense is a good defense. If you want to keep your lawn looking great in the spring and summer, you need to prep it for the fall and winter. Roots are still active when the grass isn’t growing, so applying fertilizer will prevent winter damage. Doing this will also help your lawn turn green faster in the spring, which is crucial, because who wants to look at a sad lawn once it gets nice out?

10)   Test winter equipment.

Even if you think that your snow blower or shovel are in good shape, take a few moments to check. You don’t want to get caught out in the cold finding out you’re wrong. Don’t wait for the first snowstorm to remember your scraper and extra mittens are in the closet at home, put them in your car today. It gets darker earlier in the winter, so add a flashlight with new batteries, too. A small shovel is also helpful if you find yourself plowed into your parking spot or need to dig for traction in a heavy snowfall.

11) Change your batteries.

Once a year you should be checking to make sure all smoke detectors and carbon monoxide devices are working and have fresh batteries. You’ll want them to work properly in the event of a problem with your heating and/or ventilation system to alert you to a life-threatening emergency before it’s too late. Fire Escape Plans: Every bedroom, including basement bedrooms, should have two exit paths. Make sure windows aren’t blocked by furniture or other items. Ideally, each upper-floor bedroom should have a rope ladder near the window for emergency exits. Review what to do in case of fire, and arrange a safe meeting place for everyone away from the house.

12) Don’t Delay

As with most home maintenance tasks, preparing your home for fall isn’t tricky, just time-consuming. Putting it off causes problems that can wind up costing you an enormous amount of money, so set aside time on the next couple of weekends to get these jobs done.