The leaves are falling fast; the days are getting shorter and you’ve hauled that light jacket out of the closet again for another breezy fall – or autumn if you prefer – season ahead.
The third season of the year is a time for many things; a little leaf watching, the return of the hockey season (yea!) some Halloween scares and, these days at least, pumpkin spice everything. This should also however be the time that you get your home and yard ready for the winter that really isn’t too far behind.
If you happen to be selling your Waterloo Region home buyers still expect to find the place in tip-top shape, and even if you are not it’s still a great idea to go into the winter with a home that is warm, clean and welcoming, as the approaching winter is also the season for houseguests!
To help you get started, we’ve created a very simple checklist. Why not try getting started on it this weekend?
Outdoor Fall Prep
The outside of your home will still be on show, even if you personally won’t be spending much time out there, so it merits as much attention as the spaces indoors. In addition, many of the things that can go wrong in the winter begin outdoors, so there are certain maintenance tasks that really are a must:
Fix Cracks in Concrete and Asphalt
The time you have left to fix any cracks in asphalt and concrete – especially in your driveway – is dwindling fast. If not repaired, these cracks are only likely to get bigger and bigger as the temperatures drop, something that you really don’t want to have to deal with and that would be a concern if spotted by a potential homebuyer.
Get the Gutters Cleaned
Whether you do it yourself, and if you do, proceed with great care, or call in a professional, another must at this time of year is getting the gutters that protect your home cleaned, and if necessary, repaired. Clogged or inefficient gutters can lead to all kinds of problems in the winter, including the kind of water damage no one ever wants to face.
Turn off Your Outdoor Plumbing
Before you cover them to protect your home – and them – from the freezing weather to come – ensure that all outdoor faucets and sprinkler lines are completely drained and the water supply turned off from indoors for the season to prevent the backups and pipe freezes that can all too easily occur if you do not. Drain outdoor faucets and sprinkler systems and cover them to protect them from freezing weather to come.
Check Your Roof
While you – or someone else – is up on that ladder dealing with the guttering , your roof should be visually inspected for damaged shingles, flashing, or vents and any problems found fixed ASAP. Winter snowfalls already put a lot of stress on a roof so if it is not in good shape before those flakes fall you could be in real trouble!
Clean and Store Outdoor Garden Furniture
It may be that you can get a few more nice weekends when you can make use of your outdoor space, so while it may not be time yet to put all of your garden furniture away just yet make sure all of it – and your gardening tools – are cleaned up and ready to store for the winter, something you’ll probably be doing within just a few more weeks (sadly)
Indoor Fall Prep
Schedule a Furnace Check
There is nothing worse than a cold home in the winter, so now is the time to schedule a preventative furnace checkup before all of the local HVAC companies are swamped with emergency requests.
If you opt not to pay for a full service – maybe you got one in the spring – at the very least ensure that you change the furnace filter before you crank that heat up for the first time.
Check the Doors and Windows for Drafts
Many people do not realize just how much heat is lost from a home – and cold air allowed to enter – thanks to small cracks and gaps around window and door frames.
To check that the weatherstripping around your exterior doors by opening the door, placing a piece of paper in the lintel and then closing the door. If the paper is trapped and can’t be moved easily, then the insulation is adequate. If it moves easily it is not, and it is time to replace it.
When it comes to windows visually check the caulk for cracks and even if it looks OK, try the feather test. Hold a feather next to the seals and joints along the window frame. If the feather moves a lot, the joint may leak and you should get the window inspected before the really cold weather arrives.
Let There Be (Lots More) Light
During the colder months you need to create a light, cosy feel to counteract the extra darkness outside. Consider adding an extra lamp to darker corners and the addition of soft candles can impart a warming glow that is both charming and cosy.
As the natural sunlight is a little harsher in the winter if blinds and drapes are dirty or dusty that will be significantly more noticeable, not a good look if you are selling your home or if you are expecting holiday guests, so now is the time to clean them.
Home Safety Check
Now is the time to test both smoke and carbon monoxide alarms to ensure they are functional and to replace the batteries with fresh ones, something that should be done every six months anyway.
You should also take the time to ensure you are prepared for any winter power outages by ensuring that you have a torch, batteries, candles and maybe even a few charged power packs for your cellphones on hand.
Make Sure You Have a Mudroom
Even if you do not usually have a formal mudroom in your home, the winter is certainly a time when you really do need one, so now maybe the time for a little DIY. All you really need is a hardy indoor/outdoor rug, a coat rack of some sort and a wooden shoe rack, but if you want to get a little more creative, there are lots of ideas out there on the Internet that might be a lot of fun to spend a weekend implementing and even add some extra visual appeal to your home overall.
Add Some Simple Fall Touches
Scented candles, scented wax warmers, thick, colorful throws and other fall decor touches are usually inexpensive and yet they really can add a great deal to help you create the warm, welcoming ambiance that the Fall calls for with relative ease.