With the kids back in school and the sun rising later, it’s time to think about preparing your home for fall. Wait, did I just hear a groan? Yes, I know summer is fun what with the slower pace, the trips to the beach or lake or pool, and those evenings that seem to last forever. But personally? I adore autumn. I love the darker mornings, the cooler temperatures, and the brilliant blaze of color that paints the trees.
Fall chores, though? Not so much.
Over the years, I’ve learned the hard way not to put them off. Trust me, you do not want to discover at 3 o’clock in the morning that you forgot to turn off your outside water and, thanks to a hard freeze, your burst hose is turning your patio into an ice skating rink. Or you decide to spend the evening in front of a crackling fire then wind up filling your home with smelly, dark smoke. That smell takes forever to go away!
So, even though the autumnal equinox is still one week away, now is a good time to start preparing your home for fall. By spreading these tasks over the next few weeks, you’ll ensure your home is ready for cooler weather when it happens. Don’t do as I’ve done in years past and tell yourself there’s plenty of time, because Mother Nature has been an unpredictable old biddy lately.
7 Steps To Preparing Your Home For Fall
1. Fertilize Your Lawn
According to experts, fertilizing your lawn in fall will protect it over the winter and help it green up faster come springtime. This is especially important in areas with hot and dry summers since grass tends to stop growing under such extremes. Dosing your lawn with fertilizer in autumn will trigger renewed growth of both blades and roots, so your lawn will be thick and healthy again before winter’s colder temperatures set in.
2. Get Your HVAC Serviced
Your AC has been faithfully chugging along all summer, and now it’s time to give it a rest. Before you tuck it away for the winter, be sure to clean the coils first. You can find YouTube videos showing how to do this safely.
Once clean and dry, cover the AC unit to keep debris and ice from damaging your system. Then move indoors and switch your thermostat from cooling to heating, and be sure to change the filter. You should also take a walk around your home to make sure all vents are uncovered, and maybe give them a DIY air duct cleaning.
3. Clean Your Gutters
I hate, hate, hate doing this chore. So did my husband. We learned not to skip it when our clogged gutters channeled water down the side of our home where it eventually damaged the foundation, flooded our storage room, and destroyed our landscaping. Several thousand dollars later we made a point to add gutter cleaning to our home maintenance calendar every season.
It turns out, it’s not that hard to do — just get a ladder and work in a pair, so one person holds the ladder and watches as the other climbs and pulls debris out of the gutters. If you have a one-story house, you can even use this leaf-blower attachment I bought from Amazon. Still too much work? Hire a gutter cleaning company — they’re worth it.
4. Drain And Store Your Lawn Equipment
Over time, unused gas goes through chemical changes which lead to gum and other harmful deposits that can destroy your lawn equipment. So after you’ve given your lawn a final once-over for the season — usually around mid-October — you should drain the tanks of your lawn mower, leaf blower, and weed eater.
Fall is also a good time to get your lawn mower blades sharpened so they’ll be ready for next Spring.
5. Turn Off And Drain Outdoor Faucets And Sprinklers
I wasn’t kidding about our patio turning into an ice skating rink at 3 a.m. one year. My husband thought I had turned off and drained our outdoor water faucets, and I thought he had done it. I woke in the middle of a snowstorm thinking it must have hail embedded in it because I kept hearing the sound of pellets hitting the patio. Several minutes later when the hail hadn’t let up even a bit, I decided to look out the front windows and discovered the faucet on the front of our house had burst.
Don’t let this happen to you! Disconnect your outdoor hoses, turn off the outdoor water supply, and then open faucets and run your sprinkler system to drain them of water. It’s that easy. Once drained, you can take steps to prevent frozen pipes.
6. Inspect And Clean Your Chimney
When I think of chimney cleaning I always picture Dick Van Dyke in Mary Poppins, his face covered with soot as he sings “Chim-chim-e-ny, chim-chim-e-ney, chim, chim, cheroo….” It’s a charming song, but there’s nothing charming about filling your home with soot, smoke, and carbon monoxide because you haven’t had your chimney cleaned.
Even gas fireplaces need their chimneys cleaned and inspected to ensure there are no bird or squirrel nests blocking the flue, and that the chimney pipe is free of cracks that can allow smoke to enter your home. This job is best left to pros, and the cost runs around $100-200.
7. Get Your Ice Melt And Snow Blower Ready
I live in Kansas where the first anticipated snow leads people to empty the shelves of ice melt, windshield scrapers, snow shovels and blowers. Even though we know it’s going to happen every year, usually by late November but often earlier than that, it’s as if people don’t think about snow at all until the weather forecast mentions it. By then, it’s often too late to find snow gear until the stores replenish their supplies.
That’s why it’s smart to stock up on such things in autumn when they’re plentiful and, not surprisingly, lower-priced. And, listen, even if you think you’ve got enough left from last year, or that your snow blower or shovel are in good shape, take a few moments to check so you don’t get caught out in the cold finding out you’re wrong.
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