Home Maintenance: 15 Things To Do At Your House This Fall

A little planning ahead can save you a lot of problems and money later

By Jenny Sites, publisher of Macaroni KID Fredericksburg - Spotsylvania - Stafford, Va. | Brenna Gutell, publisher of Macaroni KID Conejo Valley - Malibu - Calabasas August 27, 2023

While some of us . . . maybe me! are in denial about the start of the colder weather, the fact is that it will be here before you know it and we need to prepare ourselves for colder days and potential wet weather to come. Even though our winters are mild compared to the rest of the country, it's still a good idea to tend to these maintenance tasks and prepare for unexpected.

Here are 15 things you can do to prepare your house for winter:

1. Inspect your trees and trim as needed

  • Look around your yard for tree branches that are hanging over the house, trees that are dead or have dead limbs plus and any other potential hazards. Winds and rain can cause tree branches to become weak and break. Removing them in advance saves you from possible damages or injuries later. Keeping branches clear of gutters and roof can also helps reduce access to rodents and reduces the excess leaves from landing in your rain gutters. 

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2. Clean and check your gutters and downspouts

  • You want to make sure that your gutters are clear of debris to prevent them from overflowing when it rains and prevent leaves and twigs from getting trapped and molding - yuck.

3. Check your outdoor lighting

  • Replace any bulbs that have gone out and check your cameras if you have them. With safety in mind, it's getting dark earlier maybe you want to update your outdoor lighting and security?

4. Clear the space around your home

  • Seems like it's always fire season here, take this opportunity to clear away dead plants and trim the rest.

5. Don't forget your pool

  • If you don't plan on using your pool regularly, cover it up to keep the heat in and the debris out. Make any adjustments to the equipment and chemicals for reduced use during the colder months. 

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6. Check your smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors

  • Be sure to check the batteries and test the detectors, many people do this when we change the clocks. Some detectors have an expiration date on them. According to the U.S. Fire Administration, smoke detectors are usually good for about 8-10 years. However, combination smoke and carbon monoxide detectors are only good for about 5-6 years. 
  • This is also a good time to review your fire evacuation plan with your family.

7. Check your thermostat

  • If you don’t already have a programmable or smart thermostat, consider getting one. They can save you money by automatically adjusting the temperature in your house and using less gas or electricity. 
  • If you plan to be gone from your home for an extended period of time, be sure to turn off or lower the thermostat so you don't waste energy and money.

8. Have your chimney checked

  • If you plan to use your fireplace this winter, you want to consider having your chimney checked by a professional before you need to use it. A professional will check for build-up and cracks, the chimney cap, and the damper and make sure that everything is working properly. 
  • Also, if you have a wood-burning fireplace, now is a good time to restock your firewood.

9. Check any drains on your property

  • Heavy rain can cause a back-up or flooding if your drains get clogged. We have drains in our yard, do you?

10. Check your furnace

  • It's been cold so I'm sure you've been using it, but just in case it needs service or new filters this is a good time to take care of that.

11. Inspect your roof

  • Did you have any leaks during the last rain? Maybe this is a good time to get it fixed. What about loose or missing roof tiles, get those replaces before we have wet weather again. Wind and critters can move them out of place.

12. Seal gaps / cracks

  • Keep out the cold draft and the critters and bugs. Do a walk around while the weather is mild.

13. Check your garden

  • Do any of your plants need protection from the winter cold?

14. Check your windows and doors

  • Do you need to repair, replace or add weather seals?

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15. Create, check or update your emergency supplies

  • While we all hope that we’re not going to need it, it’s never a bad idea to have an emergency kit prepared. Be prepared for anything from a power outage to an earthquake. Emergency kits should include bottled water - one gallon per day per person, several days of non-perishable food, hand can-opener, blankets, flashlights with extra batteries, a battery-powered or hand crank radio, wet wipes, tarps, duct tape, large garbage bags, dust / N-95 masks, tools to turn off the gas, whistle to call for help and first-aid kit. 
  • A more thorough kit may include additional items like basic medications, an extra change of clothing and/or coats, a battery or hand crank charging source for your phone, and a generator. It doesn't hurt to have a shovel, it can come in handy. Ideas for shelf-stable foods include energy bars, crackers, canned food, dry rice, and beans.

Jenny Sites is the publisher of Macaroni KID Fredericksburg - Spotsylvania - Stafford, Va.

Brenna Gutell is the publisher of Macaroni KID Conejo Valley - Malibu - Calabasas