The days are already getting shorter, school has started in most of the region, and before you know it, the mountains will turn an array of Blue Ridge autumn colors. If you’re a homeowner, you should leave some room in your fall schedule to complete some home maintenance that will leave your home ready for winter.
Plan for leaf collection
Localities around the region handle leaf collection differently, so check with your municipality’s solid waste department to find out how to properly dispose of leaves. Or, mulch your leaves to enrich your soil and enjoy its benefit come spring.
Winterize and prepare your tools
Use the last of the gasoline in your lawnmower and store the mower. Be sure you can get to your fall and winter yard tools, including rakes, leaf and snow blowers, tree-trimming tools, and your snow shovel. Check your supply of ice and snow melt.
Service furnace and auxiliary heat
Our furnaces and heating sources work hard in the winter, so treat yours with care! Have the furnace serviced and the filter cleaned or replaced. If you use a wood-burning fireplace, hire a chimney sweep to inspect and clean your chimney. No matter your source of auxiliary heat, replenish your stock of fuel.
Winterize your air conditioning
If you have a heat pump, clean around it before winter arrives, removing any leaves or other debris, and keep it clear of ice and snow throughout the season. If you use a window unit, remove it or at least cover it. Also, be sure gaps around the unit are sealed to restrict air flow into or out of the house.
Seal doors and windows
Speaking of gaps, check the rest of your home for drafts around doors and windows and fix them with weather stripping or foam insulation. Not only will your home be more cozy, but you’ll save on winter energy costs.
Clean your gutters
After the bulk of the leaves have fallen, tackle the debris and gunk in your gutters and downspouts. While you’re cleaning, check for rotting fascia boards, rust near gutter seams or any other signs of deterioration. When our first big snow begins to melt, you’ll be happy your drainage system is clear.
Inspect your roof
Look for any curled, cracked or missing shingles and have them repaired or replaced. Look for rust spots on flashing and for any stains on the exterior of the roof that could be signs of problems underneath. If you have any suspicions, call a roofer for an evaluation. Take this chance to trim trees back from the roof, as well, to help prevent damage during winter storms.
Drain outdoor faucets and winterize plumbing
Pipes and drains can quickly become frozen and compromised during some of our coldest winter days. Drain outdoor faucets and turn them off, if possible. Insulate any plumbing, especially if it’s outside or in an unheated basement or crawlspace. Be sure to watch for signs of weakness around bends and joints.
Clean and repair sidewalks, driveways, decks and steps
Pressure wash surfaces and examine for any defects. Walkways and steps that are already dangerous will be even more treacherous in the ice and snow. You’ll especially want to repair any cracks or potholes in concrete or pavement installations around your home before winter to prevent them from getting worse.
Inspect safety equipment
Now’s a good time to replace batteries in smoke alarms and check other safety equipment around your home, such as carbon monoxide detectors and fire extinguishers. The devices are all especially important as we begin to use auxiliary or alternative heat sources.
Bonus: Plant some fall bulbs
You’ve done all this work, now plan a little reward for yourself come spring. A planting of tulips, daffodils, irises and lilies will ensure beautiful spring color for several weeks.