Winter Is Around the Corner. Is Your Home Ready? A Checklist of Fall Tasks for New Homeowners

prepare your home this fallFall is coming. Already the days are shorter, the air cooler, the sunlight diffused with yellowy gold. Fall is a time of pumpkins and apples, warm cider, days spent jumping in piles of multi-colored leaves.  It’s also a time for homeowners to get some important stuff done—before the weather turns inclement. If you’re a new homeowner like me, this could be your first fall ever being officially responsible for your home. For you then I present this checklist. I’ve divided it into outside tasks and inside tasks.

Outside:

Yards:

If you live among tress, raking will soon be a common chore. Early fall is a good time to check all your yard tools for functionality: is that rake in good working order? Do you have gas in your leaf blower? Do all your extension cords actually work?

Prepare lackluster soil for a healthier spring by planting winter rye. When spring arrives, you mow it down into mulch and mix into the soil, creating nutrient rich dirt for planting veggies and flowers. Fall may also be a good time to fertilize and kill pests, but your local nursery will know best as each location has a different climate zone and  corresponding different needs.

Pools:

If it’s about to get cold and rainy, why not save some money and maintenance by closing the pool? Be sure to stabilize the chemicals in the water though—using a winter pool-closing kit from a home improvement or hardware store—before you seal the water under its cover.

Wood:

Now’s the time to bring in firewood, before that wood gets wet. If you can’t store it inside, consider covering it with a waterproof tarp. But before you do either,  use this time to clean out the wood storage area. Check for pests, particularly termites and carpenter ants. Any wood showing evidence of those kinds of critters should be burned outside or otherwise removed from the woodpile—for good.  You don’t want to bring infested wood into your home lest it too become infested.

Gutters:

Sweep gutters and make sure there are no obstacles in the pathway of water that will soon need an exit route.

Inside:

Weather Stripping:

Check that all doors and windows seal properly. Weatherstrips can block any air that still gets in, and will save you money on heating bills when the weather turns colder.

Furnaces and A/C units:

You should have your furnaces and vents serviced/cleaned in the warmer weather, as you want them up and running when you need them. Portable air conditioners, on the other hand, you may not need for a few months, so store them somewhere clean and dry, away from corrosive chemicals that could cause the units to corrode. For convenience, tape all their mounting hardware together with them by placing those items in a plastic bag and taping it to the back of the unit.

Both Inside and Outside

If you live somewhere that gets truly cold in the winter, consider wrapping pipes so they don’t freeze. It may still be warm now, and that may seem like overkill, but keep it in mind. You’ll enjoy the task a lot more if the pipes aren’t covered in frost and no hail or sleet is hitting you in the face as you work.

What Did I Leave Out?

Surely I missed something. I am after all a first-time homeowner. Let’s hear from the seasoned vets: how best to prepare for the coming cold season?

Anna Marie Erwert writes from both the renter and new buyer perspective, having (finally) achieved both statuses. She focuses on national real estate trends, specializing in the San Francisco Bay Area and Pacific Northwest. Follow Anna on Twitter: @AnnaMarieErwert