Fall Planning: Getting Your Home Ready for Cooler Weather

This time of year is a great time to get your house ready for cooler weather.  While we don’t have ice and snow like many of our northern neighbors, we do get freezing temperatures and our landscaping does go dorment.  Here are some things to consider as we head into cooler weather, especially for older historic homes:

A. Furnace Inspection

  • Call an HVAC professional to inspect your furnace and clean ducts.
  • Stock up on filters and change them monthly.
  • If you have a wood burning fireplace then have it checked out to make sure the cap/screen is intact, make sure the damper opens and closes properly, see if it needs cleaning

B. Check the Exterior, Doors and Windows

  • Inspect exterior for crevice cracks and exposed entry points around pipes; seal them.
  • Use weatherstripping around doors to prevent cold air from entering the home and caulk windows.
  • Replace cracked glass in windows and, if you end up replacing the entire window, prime and paint exposed wood.

C. Inspect Roof, Gutters & Downspouts

  • Sometimes our weather temperature will fall below 32 degrees in the winter.  Adding extra insulation to the attic will prevent warm air from creeping to your roof and costing your extra heating money.
  • Check flashing to ensure water cannot enter the home.
  • Replace worn roof shingles or tiles.
  • If you have gutters, clean them out and use a hose to spray water down the downspouts to clear away debris.
  • Consider installing leaf guards on the gutters or extensions on the downspouts to direct water away from the home.

D. Service Weather-Specific Equipment

  • Drain gas from lawnmowers.
  • Replace worn rakes and shovels.
  • Clean, dry and store summer gardening equipment.

E. Check Foundations

  • Rake away all debris and edible vegetation from the foundation.
  • Seal up entry points to keep small animals from crawling under the house.
  • Inspect sill plates for dry rot or pest infestation.
  • Secure crawlspace entrances.

f. Install Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Detectors

  • Buy extra smoke detector batteries and change them when daylight savings ends.
  • Install a carbon monoxide detector near your furnace and / or water heater if your house is on slab.
  • Test smoke and carbon monoxide detectors to make sure they work.
  • Buy a fire extinguisher or replace an extinguisher older than 10 years.

G. Prevent Plumbing Freezes

  • Locate your water main in the event you need to shut it off in an emergency.
  • Drain all garden hoses when the temperatures are expected to drop below freezing.
  • Insulate exposed plumbing pipes.
  • If you go on vacation, leave the heat on, set to at least 55 degrees.

H. Prepare Landscaping & Outdoor Surfaces

  • Trim trees if branches hang too close to the house or electrical wires.
  • Ask a gardener when your trees should be pruned, many get pruned in the Fall.
  • Plant spring flower bulbs and lift bulbs that cannot winter over such as dahlias in areas where the ground freezes.
  • Seal driveways, brick patios and wood decks.
  • Remove dead vegetation from gardens.
  • Move sensitive potted plants indoors or to a sheltered area.

I. Prepare an Emergency Kit

  • Buy indoor candles and matches / lighter for use during a power shortage.
  • Find the phone numbers for your utility companies and tape them near your phone or inside the phone book.
  • Buy a battery back-up to protect your computer and sensitive electronic equipment.
  • Store extra bottled water and non-perishable food supplies (including pet food, if you have a pet), blankets and a first-aid kit in a dry and easy-to-access location.
  • Prepare an evacuation plan in the event of an emergency.
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