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Facing Fall Prepared: Maintenance Tips to Prep for Cooler Weather

When the days get shorter and the air turns cooler, you know autumn has arrived. Your home probably senses the change of season, too. But unlike you, your home may not feel that autumn is a cozy time. Indeed, a home that’s not properly maintained in the fall may become vulnerable during the winter months when the heating system, roof, fireplace, insulation and windows are working their hardest to protect against the elements.

So what’s a responsible homeowner to do during the fall to make sure their place is ready to brave the oncoming change in climate? During the fall, most homeowners need to undertake a combination of outdoor work began in summer and add a variety of indoor tasks. While summer is a good time for landscaping projects, adding outdoor lighting or sidewalks, painting, re-roofing, and remodeling, autumn is a good time for checking the home’s interior systems—its heating system, air circulation, roof resiliency, and areas of exposure to outside air.

To get your home ready for fall, start outside. Here, you’ll want to clean exterior windows, examine and possibly remove screens, and install storm windows (depending on your climate). Autumn is also a good time to examine weather-stripping around doors and determine whether windows or other spaces need caulking. Up on the roof, you’ll want to replace any cracked or damaged shingles or roofing pieces, as well as clean gutters and downspouts so that leaves and fall debris don’t block drainage. In the garden, determine which plants require a trip indoors to ride out the cold season, and don’t forget to prune or cover plants that will remain outside for the winter months. Plants or trees with branches that graze the sides of the home may need to be trimmed back.

Inside, you’ll want to arrange to have your furnace and heating system serviced by your energy provider. You’ll also want to clean heating ducts and registers as well as humidifiers to make sure the air circulating in your home is clean. If you’ve got a fireplace, it’s important to clean and inspect it before using it again. Autumn is also a good time to replace smoke and fire alarm batteries and clean any ceiling fans used in warm months. While you’re at it, checking insulation in basements and attics is a valuable fall task, as paying a nominal fee to add insulation now can save a lot of money on heating bills come winter.