Everyone talks about spring cleaning, but the pressure’s really on for homeowners in the fall. Shuttering the doors and windows for several long months means less airflow, a higher demand from your furnace and the inability to tackle a range of outdoor projects. If you’re trying to prioritize what to do when, consider that your fall home improvement projects should be ones that focus on the following things: protecting your home against the cold, improving the efficiency of your heating system and making your house cozy and toasty for a few months of mostly indoor living. Here are some of the home projects that are best to do before winter arrives.
1. Do Some Landscaping
First things first: Get your lawn ready for the cold weather. Before the first freeze of the season, check off any exterior to-do list items, like installing outdoor landscape lights, planting trees and shrubs (take advantage of deep fall discounts at your local garden center), covering or storing any outdoor furniture and décor and giving the porch and patio a deep clean. Be sure that you perform regular fall maintenance in the yard with raking, aerating and overseeding. This will ensure that the snow melts to reveal perfectly healthy, green grass in the spring!
2. Prep Your HVAC System
You’re going to be expecting a lot from your boiler and furnace when the temps start to drop, so anything you can do to improve performance and lower your heating costs is vital in the months leading up to cold season. Take this opportunity to have your HVAC system inspected and make any necessary repairs. There are some simple ways to boost furnace efficiency, including patching up any breezy areas of your home and replacing the thermostat with a high-tech version that helps you minimize the time your appliance runs when it doesn’t need to.
3. Paint Interior Rooms
In order to paint the interior of your home safely, you’ll need some ventilation. Thus, it’s incredibly important that you schedule any indoor painting jobs in mild, dry seasons, like the fall, so that you can keep a couple of windows cracked. If you can’t wait until spring to give that hallway or spare room an extra coat of paint, make sure that you do it before winter or whenever you can keep windows open for a prolonged period of time.
4. Install a Ceiling Fan
A ceiling fan in the winter? You might be surprised to know that ceiling fans are just as useful in the cold as they are in the heat! By adjusting the ceiling fan direction, you can effectively bolster temperature regulation in your home. In the summer, your fan needs to move forward (counter-clockwise) to force breezy air downward for a cooling effect. In the winter, you should set your fan to reverse (clockwise) at a low speed to encourage the air in the room to float upward, helping to suck up cold air. This also might be a good time to consider installing an ionizing fan to get rid of any airborne particles and microbes that tend to get trapped in your home in the winter.
5. Clean Your Gutters
The winter and fall are particularly tough on your home’s gutter and drainage system. If they happen to be clogged up when the snow melts and the April showers roll in, then you can expect to see some flooding in and around your house. What’s more, overloaded gutters can crack or break under pressure and can cause icicles and ice dams that create wood rot, leading to costly repairs. Make sure to give your gutters a deep, thorough clean when temperatures are still mild.
6. Clean and Inspect Your Chimney
Enjoying a fire in the winter is one of life’s greatest pleasures! Not only is it a cozy, enjoyable cold-weather activity, it’s also one that can help save you some dough on your heating bill. Scheduling an annual chimney sweep and inspection in the fall is a fantastic way to ensure that your fireplace is safe and efficient. Your chimney sweep will make sure that the chimney properly eliminates toxic fumes like carbon monoxide and isn’t left open to drafts or critters. Oh, and if you’ve been waiting for the perfect time to install a fire feature in your home, now’s the time to do it so you can enjoy it during the cold months!
7. Perform Exterior Touch-Ups
Take a walk around your property in September or October, making a list of aesthetic touch-ups that should be done before winter. You’re not going to want to spend arduous hours working outside in the bitter cold, so do most of your outdoor fixes before things chill out. Touch-up or recoat the paint on your home’s trim, shutters, fences and railings or schedule a thorough power-washing so your home looks clean and fresh throughout the winter. Plant some evergreens in your flower boxes and hang a nice fall wreath and you’re ready for a cozy winter in!
8. Do a Deep Clean
Last but not least, make sure that you perform a deep, fall clean before you have to shut the windows and doors for the season. Clean everything you don’t clean each week, including windows, walls, doors, molding, upholstery, carpets and rugs. Vacuum in all corners and crevices, around the baseboards, the ceiling and any ceiling fans or light fixtures. The key is to get out any dirt, dust and debris that could settle in your home for the winter and worsen allergies. You also want to be sure you’re only using harsh cleaning supplies when you can properly ventilate.
Making Fall Chores Manageable
Making updates and doing regular maintenance is extremely important in the fall and spring, but don’t let it overwhelm you! If you make a list and check off items over a period of a couple of months, you’ll be arming your home with the protection it needs to thrive throughout the tough, winter months. A little bit of elbow grease will ensure that your home is functional all winter and enjoyable as soon as spring arrives!