The Ultimate Fall Home Maintenance Checklist
Getting Your Home Ready for Winter
That nip we feel in the air means fall is here. The season is synonymous with pumpkins, falling leaves, apple cider, and preventive home maintenance! What? Home maintenance - You know, like working around the house.
If you are a long time homeowner, you know this drill. If this is your first home, listen up! Most of the necessary chores you can do yourself. Accomplishing these tasks will not only protect your investment but can also lower your energy bills.
While temperatures are still moderate, and before the snow flies let’s get cracking! Here is my 21 step checklist. Accomplish them all, and you and your home will be as prepared for winter as you can be. Your family and your home will thank you for it.
Yard and Landscaping
1. The lawn needs some attention now if you want it to look its best in the spring. The autumn is the perfect time to aerate, fertilize and reseed your lawn.
2. Never allow piles of leaves to sit on your grass for the winter. You can rake and bag them, compost them, or mulch back into the lawn. Municipalities have different regulations about how to dispose of leaves so check on your community website for direction.
3. Winterize the flower garden. Doing this now will save you lots of time in the spring. Clean up dead plants and debris. Divide your perennials. Dig up the tender bulbs that will not survive the winter freeze. Plant spring bulbs. Mulch any newly planted perennials when the ground starts to freeze.
4. Tree branches that are near power lines or the roof of your home will need trimming. You want to avoid heavy snow and ice falling and doing damage or knocking down power lines.
5. Shut off all outside faucets. Remember, drain all the water out first. Ditto for the garden hoses before you store them ready to use in the spring.
6. Drain lawn and garden irrigation systems. The job is generally a good one to leave to the professionals.
7. Winterize your lawn mower. Refer to your instruction manual for the best way to do this for your particular make and model.
8. Clean the gutters and water spouts. It’s best to wait until the leaves have finished falling, especially if you plan to call in a professional to handle the chore. If you have any window wells, make sure you clean those too.
9. Inspect your roof for any broken or missing shingles. These may cause leaks when under assault from winter snow and ice.
10. Examine the exterior of your home. If you spot any damage to your shingles, siding or foundation take care of it.
11. Cold temperatures inspire mice, chipmunks and voles to look for more accommodating winter quarters. If you find any openings they might take advantage of as you examine the exterior, seal them up.
12. Check masonry and concrete steps and walkways for cracks. Water will get in and freeze making them bigger and deeper.
13. Make a date with a chimney sweep. If you use your fireplace 40 to 50 times per year, you should schedule a cleaning every year. Even in cases where you don’t use the fireplace, you should have the chimney inspected for water damage which may go unseen until it becomes an expensive problem.
14. Furnace Maintenance. You never want to be begging for someone to service your furnace on a subzero Minnesota night in January. I’ve been there. Hire a professional for an inspection and tuneup. Regular yearly maintenance will prolong the life of your unit, keep you safe from carbon monoxide leaks, help your furnace run more efficiently, and bring you peace of mind.
15. Clean the vent on your clothes dryer.
16. Caulk any gaps around your windows and doors. Heat loss translates to higher energy bills and who needs that?
17. Reverse the direction of your ceiling fans.
18. Remove your window air conditioners and store for winter.
19. Get your snowblower ready. The time to find out it’s not working isn’t when we have the first snowstorm. Take it in for a tune-up. For the DIY option, here is a step by step guide for getting the job done.
20. Order firewood.
21. Stock up on winter supplies. You’ll need a pet and plant safe ice melt. Fuel for the snowblower. Check your car’s winter emergency kit. You should have a blanket, window de-icer, jumper cables, a shovel, and an ice scraper.
Now you and your home are prepared to hunker down for the Minnesota winter. That’s all I’ve got for now. Stay safe and warm!