As crisp air moves in and colorful leaves fall from the trees, we welcome the reprieve from the heat of summer and rush to fill our days with all things apple and pumpkin.
Cozy sweaters start moving their way to the fronts of closets and the most snugly blankets find their rightful place on the back of the couch.
When you're a homeowner, a change of seasons also means that there's a bump in the never ending list of home improvement projects. When it comes to the fall home maintenance list, there are some really obvious chores that need to be tackled. Cleaning gutters, raking leaves, putting away window A/C units - those tasks stare you right in the face. But preventative maintenance on your HVAC system, winterizing your plumbing, weatherstripping doors and windows, and inspecting systems in and around your home may slip your mind.
Focusing on keeping your home in peak performance can be tedious but it's also much more cost effective to invest in seasonal tune ups than it is to wait for a system to fails and pay hefty repair costs. We've compiled for you some of the items that we think should be on your fall maintenance checklist.
1. Mulch Your Lawn
Raking your yard and jumping into piles of leaves is a time-honored tradition but it is time consuming and tiring work. Beyond the fun and photo ops that leaf piles bring, blowing leaves can accumulate, causing a fire hazard near electric sources, reducing efficiency of HVAC units, and can attract unwanted critters.
The good news is: you can skip the step of removal and instead opt to run your lawn mower on the mulch setting. Not only is this a much simpler process, lawn mulching provides plant-usable organic matter to the earth that benefits turf and plants. Depending on the types of trees that are in your yard, some leaf mulch can even prevent dandelion growth by up to 100%!
2. Clean Out Gutters
Those leaves don't just fall on the ground, though. Leaves accumulate and clog up your rain gutters. Left alone they can clog and overflow, causing flooding and foundation damage as well as staining siding as it spills over and drips down. Clogged gutters can eventually pull away from the house or even fall. Don't let this inconvenient chore turn into costly negligence - check out this great how-to!
3. Improve Outdoor Lighting
With the days getting shorter (and darker,) Allstate suggests that you add exterior lighting. A well-lit property detours break-ins, creates safer stepping, and helps showcase seasonal decorations and add drama to focal points in your yard. Outdoor lighting can make your home feel more welcoming and boosts curb appeal.
4. Pack Up Summer
Cold temperatures and heavy rain or snow can cause rapid wear on patio furniture, trampolines, and other things kept outside during the summer months. Packing away things that won't get use during the winter - including yard tools and hoses - lengthens their life and keeps you from needing to run out and replace those things when they're needed again next year.
5. Winterize Outdoor Plumbing
When temperatures drop drastically, many people are caught off guard by indoor plumbing that bursts because they don't expect for them to be exposed to the elements. But outdoor plumbing gets even less attention - after all, if it's made for outdoors, shouldn't it stand up to temperature dips? Nope. Once you pack away the hoses like tip #4 suggests, you should also turn off the shut off valves that lead to those faucets and spigots.
While these tasks are at the top of our list, fall yard maintenance tips are seemingly endless. We found some more really great suggestions over at Zillow if you're feeling motivated to get some yard work done this weekend.
Once the yard is taken care of, it's time to focus on some of the systems inside of your home to ensure that everything is all set to keep you warm and comfortable as the temperatures fall.
1. Change Your Filters
Furnace air filters reduce the circulation of dust and other allergens and irritants in your air, but dirty filters can reduce efficiency and the life of your system. Swapping your HVAC filter is a super easy DIY that should be done every 2-3 months (sometimes sooner at the beginning of the season.) You can also easily remove vent covers to vacuum both the covers themselves and the openings of your ducts. That being said, we suggest your system should be inspected and tuned up by an HVAC professional each year before it's time to heat your home or office.
2. Check Safety Devices
As we spend more time indoors and are using heating appliances, wood stoves, and fireplaces - it's important that we take the time to make sure that our safety devices are working and are in their proper locations. Smoke and CO detector batteries should be changed and alarms tested according to the device instructions. Locate fire extinguishers, check expiration dates, and test if your device allows you to.
3. Insulate, insulate, insulate!
Adding insulation around your home is a great way to increase the efficiency of your home year round. Increasing insulation in your attic and walls helps prevent cold air from seeping in and holds warm air inside your home. Repairing and replacing weather stripping seals on windows and doors to eliminate drafts provides nearly instant savings on your energy bill and bumps up your comfort level.
4. Clear Your Drains
While the best time to clear a drain is when you notice that water is no longer draining as quickly as it used to, we understand that sometimes this task gets pushed off. Since you're already knocking out some basic home maintenance projections, now is a great time to tackle those clogs. This Old House has put together a great guide for clearing your drains.
5. Flush Your Water Heater
Sediment and mineral build up in your water heater can cause corrosion and decrease the life of your heater. Flushing your system every six months clears anything that has settled in your system and provides the best life, efficiency, and water pressure in your home.
Speaking of pressure, while you're at your water heater, take a quick moment to also test your temperature and pressure (T&P) valve. This is another task that will help your system to function better and will boost safety.
Now... Get Cozy!
Home maintenance is the less fun but necessary part of the season changing. Since we know that you're busy and you may just want to skip right to fall fun, we are always here to take care of your
preventative maintenance projects.
Curling up with a book and a hot cup of cider or cocoa is the quintessential autumn experience. Once your yard and home systems are in order, it's time to pull out the quilts, set a relaxing ambiance with lighting and candles, and add seasonal decorations to create a space that fits your personality.
Settling in and focusing on comfort, mindfulness, and gratitude is sure to bring many days of enjoyment and relaxation.