The days are getting shorter, and the nights are getting cooler. The kids are trudging off to school again with their backpacks and light jackets, and leaves are starting to fall from the trees.
Yep, it's official: Fall is here. Now is the time to finish up any last-minute late-summer maintenance projects, and get your home and yard ready for fall.
Just follow our easy checklist, and your home will soon be clean, warm, and ready for the cool days to come.
- Fix cracks in concrete and asphalt. Depending on where you live, these may be the last weeks this year when it will be warm and sunny enough to repair driveway and sidewalk cracks.
- Clean out the gutters. No one loves this job, but we all need to do it annually. A few hours of work can prevent big problems later on. And while you're up on that ladder, visually inspect your roof for damaged shingles, flashing, or vents. You can also inspect the chimney for any missing mortar, and consider tuck-pointing if needed.
- Turn off outdoor plumbing. Drain outdoor faucets and sprinkler systems, and cover them to protect them from freezing weather to come.
- Start composting. If you don't already have compost bins, now is the time to make or get some. All those accumulated autumn leaves will bring you gardening gold next summer!
- Clean outdoor furniture and gardening tools. It may not be quite time yet to put them away, but go ahead and make sure your outdoor furniture and gardening tools are cleaned up and ready for storage over the winter.
- Plant bulbs for spring-blooming flowers. A joyous and beautiful sign of spring is when tulips and daffodils start popping up everywhere. Plant bulbs in October, as soon as the soil has cooled down, to reap big rewards next spring. If you’ve never planted bulbs before, select a spot in your yard that gets full sun during the day.
- Prepare your furnace for winter duty. If you didn't already do it last spring, consider getting your furnace professionally serviced in time for the cold season. At the minimum, though, visually inspect your furnace and replace the furnace filter before turning it on for the first time.
- Clean the fireplace and chimney. Clean out the fireplace, make sure the flue is operating properly, and that doors and shields are sound. Have the chimney professionally swept if needed. Now is the time to stock up on firewood!
- Keep the warm air inside and the cold air outside. Inspect your windows and doors. Check weather stripping by opening a door, placing a piece of paper in the entryway, and closing the door. The paper should not be able to slide back and forth easily. If it does, the weather stripping isn't doing its job. Also, now is the time to re-caulk around windows and door casings if needed.
- Light the way. Bring as much light into your home as you can for the colder, darker months. To accentuate natural light, clean your windows and blinds, especially in rooms that get a lot of sunlight. Add lighting to darker spaces easily with new lamps. And consider replacing traditional incandescent light bulbs with energy-efficient bulbs.
- Create a mudroom. Even if you don't have a dedicated mudroom in your home, now is a good time to think about organizing and stocking an entryway that will serve as a "mudroom" area for cold and wet weather. Put down an indoor/outdoor rug to protect the floor. A fun and rewarding weekend project is to build a wooden shoe rack, coat rack, or a storage bench for your entryway.
- Home safety check. Replace the batteries in your smoke alarms and CO2 monitors. A good way to remember to do this is to always replace the batteries when you change the clock for "fall back." Create a family fire escape plan, or review the one you already have. Put together an emergency preparedness kit so that you are ready for winter power outages.
Once you finish with your autumn home checklist, you will be ready to relax in your warm, comfortable home, and enjoy the season.
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Originally published September 20, 2016.