There’s a chill in the air and the leaves are quickly working their way off the trees – there’s no use denying it – we’re deep in the heart of pumpkin spice season. As autumn’s briskness picks up, it’s definitely time to pack up your summer gear and get your home ready for the colder months ahead. Don’t know where to start? Here’s a few common fall chores to think about:
Cover or Put Away Your Lawn Furniture
Summer is best lived outdoors – enjoying the warm weather by the grill or the pool -or both! As the temperature drops this season you’ll want to make time to protect your patio furniture. Bring cushions and textiles into storage for the cold season to keep them from being damaged by wind, ice and rain. If you have room in a garage or shed, pack up and store other outdoor furniture while it isn’t being used. Be sure to securely cover or store your grill and any other outdoor kitchen equipment. Take down awnings that can be damaged in winter storms.
Feed Your Grass
Put your lawn to sleep for the season with an infusion of fertilizer to strengthen the roots while it goes dormant. A strong root structure helps grass withstand the punishment of winter’s chills. Before fertilizing, you’ll want to aerate your lawn to break up soil compaction and sow grass seed that can establish itself before winter and then ensure you have a lush green lawn come spring. Applying a basic grass fertilizer prepares your lawn to overwinter safely and come back strong in the spring.
Check Your Outdoor Water
From pools to hoses to water features, autumn is the time to drain the water in your garden and make sure outdoor plumbing is prepared for winter. Freezing water expands and has the capacity to burst pipes and hoses easily if temperatures drop quickly. Avoid problems – detach, drain, roll and store your garden hoses. Fountains, water features and small ponds without fish should be drained, as well as swimming pools.
Get the Gunk Out of Your Gutters
Everyone loves the fiery spectacle of autumn leaves – until they get everywhere! You’ll be raking up leaves all season, but you’ll also want to be checking your gutters which can easily get clogged by leaves and debris in the fall. With autumn rains and winter’s snow and ice, you’ll want to be sure water has a clear path away from your home. Backed up gutters can cause leaks and interior water damage to your home. A simple clean out in the fall is the best prevention.
Do a Basic Energy Audit
As the weather cools, you’ll need to start using your home’s heating again. Heating a house can get expensive, but you can reduce your bills by making sure you aren’t sacrificing heat to door and window drafts. Do a visual scan and run your hand around the perimeter of your doors and windows looking for cracks that you can see light through or feel air coming from. When you find a problem area, it is time to bust out the weatherstripping to seal it up. Even small drafty cracks can severely compromise your home’s ability to retain heat, meaning you’ll use more energy and get worse results.
Running your system for maximum efficiency also means checking and cleaning or replacing the air filters in your system. Dirty air filters make it harder for your system to deliver heating or cooling when you need it. In fact, in order to keep your system operating at peak performance, you’ll want to clean or change the filters once a month.
Fall is a good time to scan your home, driveway and sidewalks for cracking – and fix any issues before cold weather hits. Winter weather cycles of freezing and thawing push water into cracks which then freeze and expand, only to melt and freeze again and again throughout the colder months. By filling cracks in a timely way you can avoid hundreds of dollars of damages over the short course of a season. Depending on your driveway material, consult with your local hardware store to get the best crack sealer for your needs. For cracks in your home, especially along the foundation you’ll want to talk to a contractor or specialize repair person.