Finally, temperatures are at least hinting at cooling, foliage is edging closer to its glorious reveal, and football is on TV. That means leaves are falling or will be soon. Here are some practical steps you can take to get your home in tiptop shape for autumn.
Clear gutters and downspouts of leaves and debris. Also, consider installing gutter guards to help minimize the job next time.
Trim dead limbs and branches from trees to prevent them from falling and causing damage to your house or car during winter storms that may come.
Lower humidity during fall makes for prime painting time. If you’ve been putting off an exterior house painting job, this could be an opportune time to get around to it.
Take a close look at your roof. Check for signs of wear and tear, including any misshapen, cracked or missing shingles. Damaged shingles should be replaced, and if there is significant damage to the roof overall, it may be time to consider replacing the whole thing.
Check flashing around skylights, chimneys and pipes, and seal any leaks or gaps with roofing cement.
If doing any of the above necessitates a ladder, observe the following practices:
- Place the ladder’s base on a firm, dry surface.
- Wear slip-resistant shoes.
- Always keep three points of contact with the ladder: two hands and one foot or two feet and one hand.
- Don’t stand higher than the third rung from the top.
- Don’t lean or overreach—reposition the ladder instead.
- Be sure to check for and avoid any overhead power lines before climbing a ladder.
Once back on solid ground, rake or blow leaves from your lawn to avoid insects and prevent suffocating the grass below. The raked leaves make an excellent nutrient-rich mulch, or you can compost them.
One last task outdoors in anticipation of colder, potentially freezing winter temperatures: Wrap exposed water pipes with heating tape. The benefits of this are twofold—it will save energy and keep your pipes from freezing.
Clean or replace filters in your heating, ventilation and air conditioning system.
Check your attic for proper insulation and make sure there’s enough. The insulation’s vapor barrier should face down toward your home’s interior. If more insulation is needed, install it on the attic’s floor between joists, taking care not to step off the joists.
If there isn’t one already, consider installing a screen behind any gable vents that lead into your home’s attic to discourage pests from taking up residence there.
Weatherstrip doors and windows with vinyl, felt, foam tape or rubber to seal any drafty areas. Finish the job with a metal sweep along the bottom of the door. For an easier alternative to the door sweep, go with a removable draft guard. It’s also wise to repair caulking around window and door frames. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, sealing an old or especially drafty house can save more than 20 percent on heating and cooling bills, so this is a worthwhile practice to maintain year-round.
Have wood-burning fireplaces inspected and cleaned to prevent chimney fires and carbon monoxide poisoning.
Test smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors and replace batteries as needed. If you don’t own a CO detector, get one. Relatively inexpensive models can save lives.
Put these tips into action to make your home a safe and comfortable sanctuary for you and your family.