What's not to love about fall? Pumpkin spice is everywhere, golden, orange, and red leaves flutter to the ground, breathtaking sunsets paint the evening sky, and cooler temperatures finally arrive after a hot summer. Fall, like spring, is a time to clean out, reset, and get your home ready for a potentially bitter winter.
7 Things to Do to Prepare Your Home for Winter:
Button Up Leaks
Stop air leaks. Stop air leaks. Stop air leaks. It can't be said enough. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, gaps in caulk and weatherstripping account for 10% of your heating bills. Weatherstripping is fairly easy to check and correct. Close doors and windows on a piece of paper; if the paper slides around easily then your weatherstripping needs attention. To check for air leaks, use a lighted candle around door and window frames, wires running into your home, and other points of entry; if the flame flickers then you have an air leak.
Add the Right Insulation
Personally, insulation brings back bad memories for me. I picture the pink, itchy stuff your parents told you not to touch, so obviously you rolled in it and were uncomfortable the rest of the day. But, regardless of my feelings, insulation is the most important investment in your home. Even if your house is already built and mostly complete, there are areas you can add insulation like the attic, garage, and any unfinished portions of your home. We strongly recommend insulating with cellulose and spray foam because the R-value actually increases as temperatures get colder.
Inspect Your Roof
Once a roof is a leaky roof, it becomes time-consuming and expensive fast. Inspect your roof from top to bottom looking for damage to metal flashing around vents, chimneys, and valleys. Look for damaged, curled, or missing shingles, and check ridge shingles for cracks and wind damage. If you have roof-mounted television antennas or satellite dishes that you're not using anymore, consider removing them. We're not advocating for you to pull a Clark Griswold and fall off the roof, so if your roof is steep, get a professional to take a look.
Clean and Update Gutters
Gutters divert thousands of gallons of water per year from your home's exterior and foundation walls, which is why it's important to keep things running smoothly. Before the leaves fall, have your gutters cleaned (either personally or professionally), and you can add mesh guard afterwards to prevent additional debris. Make sure all downspouts are working properly and consider adding downspout extenders.
Schedule a Furnace Checkup
If your heater is going to give out because of age or technical issues, it's going to happen on the coldest day of the year when you're entertaining family (if your luck is anything like mine). Don't risk it. Hire a certified HVAC contractor to give your furnace some TLC. This will ensure your furnace is operating properly and safely, could improve the efficiencies for cost-savings, potentially keep warranty intact, and lead to improved home comfort. If your furnace is old, schedule a planned changeout with a certified HVAC contractor because you don't want to be making an investment like that last minute. Check out our Simple Guide to Choosing a Heating and Cooling System to start your research if you think you might need a new furnace or take a look at some GeoComfort installations in homes just like yours.
Landscape and Yard Work
While it might look like your grass stops growing in the fall, the roots are actually growing deeper to prepare for winter, which makes this the best time to fertilize and reseed your lawn. After the leaves turn, trim your trees and bushes to encourage healthy growth. And, if you have any trees getting dangerously close to power lines or the roof of your house, have those cut because heavy snow and ice can cause serious damage in the winter.
Decorate Your Front Porch for Fall
This step isn't absolutely necessary to prepare for winter, but it's the most fun in this mum-lover's opinion. You can use pumpkins, cornstalks, mums, apples, leaves, or branches to give your front porch a taste of fall. And, if you need pumpkins for the porch, it's a great excuse to go to the pumpkin patch. Check out Boxwood Avenue's fall front porch ideas for some inspiration if you aren't sure where to start.
Tackling this list may seem a bit overwhelming, but it doesn't have to be. Jot it down and cross off each task as you accomplish it, and never hesitate to hire a professional to do the job if you don't feel you can, or should, handle it. Look at it this way, you can enjoy these outdoor chores during the last weeks of nice weather before winter sets in.