10 Things You Should Do in the Fall to Prep for Winter
Summer heat is a faint memory, and you’re pulling out your hoodies more than your shorts. A home is a significant investment that deserves some extra attention from season to season. It’s time to tackle a few simple chores that’ll make winter more pleasant and prevent some nasty surprises next spring. Here are some things to consider to prepare for this winter season:
- Clean and Stow Your Mower — If your mower sits for months with gas in its tank, the gas will slowly deteriorate, which can damage internal engine parts. Fuel stabilizer ($10 for a 10-ounce bottle) prevents gas from degrading. Add stabilizer to your gasoline can to keep spare gas in good condition over the winter, and top off your mower tank with stabilized gas before you put it away for the winter.
- Clear and Stow Garden Hoses — Remove garden hoses from outdoor faucets. Leaving hoses attached can cause water to back up in the faucets and in the plumbing pipes just inside your exterior walls. If freezing temps hit, that water could freeze, expand, and crack the faucet or pipes. Make this an early fall priority so a sudden cold snap doesn’t sneak up and cause damage.
- Drain Your Sprinkler System — It’s time to drain your irrigation system. Even buried irrigation lines can freeze, leading to busted pipes and broken sprinkler heads. If you don’t have drain valves, then hire an irrigation pro to blow out the systems pipes with compressed air.
- Seal Air Leaks — Grab a couple of tubes of color-matched exterior caulk ($5 for a 12-ounce tube) and seal up cracks between trim and siding, around window and door frames, and where pipes and wires enter your house. Preventing moisture from getting inside your walls is one of the least expensive — and most important — of your fall maintenance jobs. You’ll also seal air leaks that waste energy.
- De-Gunk Your Gutters — Clogged rain gutters can cause ice dams, which can lead to expensive repairs. After the leaves have fallen, clean your gutters to remove leaves, twigs, and gunk. Make sure gutters aren’t sagging and trapping water; tighten gutter hangers and downspout brackets. Replace any worn or damaged gutters and downspouts.
- Eyeball Your Roof — If you have a steep roof or a multistory house, stay safe and use binoculars to inspect your roof from the ground. Look for warning signs: Shingles that are buckled, cracked, or missing; rust spots on flashing. Any loose, damaged, or missing shingles should be replaced immediately.
- Direct Your Drainage — Take a close look at the soil around your foundation and make sure it slopes away from your house at least 6 vertical inches over 10 feet. That way, you’ll keep water from soaking the soils around your foundation, which could lead to cracks and leaks.
- Check Your Furnace — Schedule an appointment with a heating and cooling pro to get your heating system checked and tuned up for the coming heating season. Change your furnace filters, too. This is a job you should do every two months, but if you haven’t, now’s the time.
- Prune Plants — Late fall is the best time to prune plants and trees — when the summer growth cycle is over. Your goal is to keep limbs and branches at least 3 feet from your house so moisture won’t drip onto roofing and siding, and to prevent damage to your house exterior during high winds.
- Check Your Fireplace — To make sure your fireplace is safe, grab a flashlight and look up your fireplace flue to make sure the damper opens and closes properly. Open the damper and look up into the flue to make sure it’s free of birds’ nests, branches and leaves, or other obstructions. You should see daylight at the top of the chimney.
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