Fall has arrived! Everywhere you look you see ads for pumpkin spice lattes and you’ve probably broken out your sweaters and fall boots. And as WNY homeowners, the cooler weather should remind us to take care of a few important tasks before the icy winter weather hits.
So, here are the Top Ten items for your Fall Homeowner To-do List:
1. Gutters: If you still have baby oak trees growing in your gutters, it’s definitely time to harvest those things! As you know, our gutters should be clear of debris so they can do the all-important job of keeping water away from our homes. Water is the enemy when it comes to keeping our homes safe and solid. We want to divert water away from our roof, our walls and our foundation. Gutters are the number one defense so that’s why they are number one on my list of things to check for fall. You can find some great tips for gutter cleaning from Bob Villa. Or, if you’re not good with a ladder, pay a professional to clean your gutters. It’s not too expensive and can save you lots of money down the road.
2. Windows & Doors: “What, are we heating the outdoors now?” Anyone every hear dad say that? Have you caught yourself saying it? Well, it’s a valid point. Windows and doors that let outside air in and inside air out can account for anywhere from ten to twenty five percent of your energy bill. So it’s worth a little bit of time invested in caulking and winterizing. Check out some great tips on finding the leaks here.
3. Driveway: Ice and snow melting and freezing again on your driveway can wreak havoc. So obviously, regular snow removal is important. But even with great snow maintenance, if it’s been a few years since you’ve sealed your driveway and you’ve notice some damaged areas, it’s a good idea to take care of that before the temperatures drop below fifty degrees and the leaves start falling. Spring is the best time to seal your driveway, in general. But if it needs it now, don’t let the winter cause more damage.
4. Roof: Check your roof for any signs of wear. If there are any weak spots or loose shingles, it’s very important to fix those before the snow falls. (If you were anywhere near Buffalo last winter (2014) you remember how much damage all that snow inflicted.) Ice dams can cause damage without you even realizing it until it’s too late. Prevention is key in this area.
5. Garage: Organize for winter. One of my goals this year is to actually get my car into our garage for the winter. Yours too? Well here are some great garage organization tips to make that a reality. Often times we have way more space than we think. It’s just a matter of using it well. In the garage, think up. Utilizing storage on the walls and the ceiling can create space for your car as well as keep your belongings from getting wet and damaged.
6. Heating/Cooling systems: Regardless of what method you use to heat your home, you should definitely make sure your heating source is ready to go before you actually need it. Because one thing is for sure, that woodstove, fireplace or furnace is going to be working hard for you and you don’t want it to quit mid-shift! Change your furnace filter; this will save you money on energy bills and help you breath easier during the winter months where we are inside so much more. If you use a fireplace or wood stove and haven’t had your chimney checked in a while, you may want to take care of that. And if you have AC, don’t forget to cover your condenser to protect it from the elements. You can purchase a cover or even set a large piece of 3/4 inch exterior grade plywood over the top, tying it down in case of wind.
7. Outdoor Items: Clean and store your outdoor equipment and furniture. This is pretty obvious but I’m probably not the only one who has kept my patio furniture out too long in the hopes that we’d get one more warm day in late October. But it’s probably better to get it done while it is a little warmer out than waiting until you need gloves and a scarf. And since it will be covered all winter, it’s a good idea to give that furniture a nice cleaning before hibernation.
8. Plumbing: Drain and winterize outdoor faucets. I’ll admit, this is one we have never thought of around our house. But it makes sense to winterize any places that water can freeze and cause damage. Click here for the basics on this little chore.
9. Exterior walls: You may not want to get into a full exterior paint job right now. But if you have damaged exterior walls where paint is cracking or peeling, that could lead to water damage in the winter. So fixing those problem areas could save you headaches next spring. For some tips on diagnosing exterior paint issues, check out this article from Benjamin Moore.
10. FAMILY SAFETY CHECK: Last but certainly not least, check your smoke alarms and Carbon Monoxide detectors. Replace the batteries (better safe than sorry) and make sure everything is in working order. And while you’re at it, if you don’t have a family emergency plan in place, why not check that off your To Do list. The government’s Ready program has some great tips.
So there you have it. My top ten list for readying your home for winter. What? You’re saying you’ll never get to all these things before winter? Yeah, I probably won’t either. Not all of them. But I can sure knock out the top five that are most pressing at my house. How about you? Can you get half of these things done? Sure you can. Lets race. Ready…set…go!
P.S. I’ll bet you have some fall home care rituals that I’ve missed. Feel free to leave a comment on what you do to keep your home safe and warm.