Every Home Needs to Prepare for Fall: Use This Checklist

Spring cleaning gets all the attention, but you need to do a top-to-bottom overhaul when the weather turns crisp as well. It's about to get cooler, you're about to spend more time inside, and if you live anywhere where there's snow, that first freeze can strike at any time. Best be prepared. Here's how ...

IN THE GARDEN

Fall in the garden is all about planning ahead.

Remove dead or dying limbs from trees to prepare for fall
credit: Paul Anderson
  • Remove any dead or dying limbs from the trees
  • Cut back your landscaping
  • Bring in the potted plants
  • Plant bulbs for spring flowers
  • Fertilize and reseed your lawn
  • Close the pool
  • Clean and cover, or store, your patio furniture
  • Winterize in-ground sprinklers and/or drip irrigation systems

AROUND THE HOUSE

The best time to prep for the coming weather — be it heavy rains or freezing cold — is while it's still nice enough out to work in your shirtsleeves.

Prep your front door for fall.
credit: Paul Anderson
  • Clean out the gutters and downspouts
  • Check all weather stripping around your doors and windows, and replace if needed (Gaps in weather stripping account for up to a 10 percent of your heating bills, according to the U.S. Department of Energy)
  • Check the weather seal at the bottom of the garage door
  • Check the roof and repair any holes or loose shingles; check all flashing and replace any failed sealant
  • Check exterior caulk, especially at corners of siding and around any entry points for wiring and plumbing
  • Remove branches hanging over the roof
  • If you live where it's cold enough to freeze, turn off outdoor plumbing; disconnect hoses and store them indoors
  • Fix cracks in your patio or driveway
  • Fix any exterior paint that is peeling, before the weather makes it worse
  • Get the windows cleaned (If you're spending more time inside, make the view as nice as possible)

INSIDE THE HOUSE

Before you start spending more hours inside, be sure that everything that will make you most comfortable when it gets colder out is in order.

Every fall, check the fireplace for damage
credit: Stephen Paul
  • Check the fireplace for damage, creosote build-up, and the occasional bird's nest — and have it cleaned

  • Stock up on firewood

  • Have your HVAC serviced

  • Check all smoke and carbon monoxide alarms — if needed, replace batteries

  • Make a dedicated space for coats, muddy shoes, umbrellas, and all-weather gear

  • Reverse your fans — if they turn clockwise, they'll circulate the warm air

  • Clean your carpets

  • Break out the humidifier

  • Bring out the cozy bedding and store your summer-weight linens

  • Change your air filters

  • Insulate exposed water pipes, to keep them from bursting

  • Drain your hot water heater

IN THE GARAGE

Out with the summer gear, and in with the snow blowers.

Copper pipe organizer
credit: Trisha Sprouse
  • Winterize and store the lawn mower and other summer garden tools
  • If you live in a snowy area, make sure your winter tools have been serviced and are easily accessible
How to Prepare Your Home for Fall Checklist
credit: Brianna Ailie

Laura Lambert

Laura Lambert

Laura Lambert is a Los Angeles-based writer and editor who covers lifestyle, design, and women's health.