It's time for Fall at Home: Hunker down, bundle up, and make the season as cozy as possible with our foolproof guide to autumn.
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 ...
(Don't miss this printable version of our checklist!)
IN THE GARDEN
Fall in the garden is all about planning ahead.
- 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 shortsleeves.
- 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.
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.
- 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