Fall is a great time of year. It brings us all kinds of good stuff, such as fresh fruit and vegetables, beautiful colors, warm days that are just the right temperature for being outdoors, and no bugs. The downside to fall is that once it arrives, you know winter isn't far away. Even while you're enjoying fall, you'd better be thinking about getting ready for 'Old Man Winter'. Here are some suggestions to make sure your home is ready for those cold winter winds.
Preparing Your Heating System
Start by having your furnace and heating system tuned-up by a qualified technician, so that when your thermostat calls for heat, your furnace will respond. Top off your oil or propane tanks so you won't get caught short if there's a sudden cold snap. If you have a fireplace, this is a good time to have your chimney cleaned and checked, including the spark screen at the top, so that you won't need to worry about accidental fires. Stock up on furnace filters so you can change them frequently. You'll be spending more time indoors during the winter and a clean furnace filter helps keep your whole home dust free.
Worn Caulking, Weather Stripping, and Cracks
Check the caulking around doors and windows. Caulking is designed to seal any cracks between them and the walls of your home, but over time even the best caulk loses its ability to seal out cold air. If you find it has dried or has any cracks, fall is a great time to remove the old caulking and replace it with new. Learnhow to apply caulk properly. Check the weather stripping on your windows and door sweeps. Replace any that are worn, cracked, or broken.
Replacing worn caulking and weather stripping will not only cut down on winter drafts, but it will also help keep mice or other 'critters' out of your house. Since a mouse can actually squeeze through a crack as small as .25-inches, stuff some steel wool into the gap before caulking over it. Mice won't chew through steel wool.
Outside and Gardens
Fall is a great time to top dress and seed your lawn, but if that's more work than you want to take on, spread some fall fertilizer. Either way, your lawn will thank you next spring. Trim trees and shrubs then spread some mulch in your gardens to help your perennials survive the winter. Check your sidewalks and driveway for any cracks that have developed over the summer. Now is the time to fix them, or else water will get into them and freeze, making them bigger.
Fall is also the time to clean out your garage. If you're like most of us, over the summer your garage becomes a great big storage shed, but now you need to find room to get your car back in there. While you're in the garage, put some fresh gas in your snow blower to make sure it starts. You don't want to find out that it won't start after the first snowfall of the year.
Put yard and garden furniture inside or cover it with tarps. Finally (and this one is important since it can be costly to ignore), turn off the water supply to all outside water taps and drain the hoses. Any water left in the pipes could freeze and burst them, causing a messy flood when warm weather arrives next spring.
If you follow this list, you and your home should have a warm, comfortable winter. Plus, there's an added bonus. If you start early and spread out these jobs, you can enjoy the fall weather while making sure your home is ready for winter. Doesn't that sound like a pretty good two for one deal?