With hayrides, trick-or-treating, and grand feasts, fall is one of the most exciting times of the year. Unfortunately, it can also be one of the scariest and not because of Halloween. Cold temperatures, severe storms - and dare we say, snow - can stop you from enjoying leaf peeping and other fun activities. Prevent costly repairs and other unfortunate surprises at home with these essential fall maintenance tips.
Don’t get left out in the cold
When the temperatures drop, it’s time to turn up the heat in your house. Before you touch your HVAC unit, call a professional to inspect and service the system. This will help ensure the heat will be there when you need it, and getting your HVAC serviced twice a year – once in spring and once in fall – can prolong the life of your system.
Flipping a switch can make a huge difference
The cool breeze from your ceiling fan may have been desirable during summer but not so much during fall. Thankfully, all you need to do is flip the switch on your ceiling fan to change the direction from counterclockwise to clockwise. (You may even be able to use a remote.) The fan will then circulate the warm air around the room and keep you nice and cozy during sweater weather!
Upgrade your current thermostat
A programmable thermostat can help save you up to 10% on your heating bill. You can program your thermostat to a lower temperature when you are at work or sleeping. Some smart thermostats will even learn your behaviors and adjust automatically. Just make sure to keep your thermostat above 55°F to prevent your pipes from freezing.
Falling leaves may be beautiful but…
As the leaves fall, they can also destroy your lawn by blocking sunlight, suffocating the grass, and even welcoming fungi and other issues. (They can also be slippery on walkways, leading to falls and injuries!) Make sure to clear your fallen leaves regularly, and before the first snowfall, do one last leaf clean-up. If raking is not your thing, consider investing in a mulching mower. Mulched leaves feed your lawn, can prevent weed growth, and will help you avoid raking or leaf blowing.
Reduce screen time
Help your home retain its warmth this fall by removing screen doors and window screens and replacing them with their cold-weather counterparts. This will not only help to increase your home’s heat efficiency but will also help you save money on your utility bills. As a bonus - It might help prevent freezing pipes and expensive water damage by keeping the heat inside your home.
Gutter gunk has to go
Keep the water flowing by removing all leaves and debris.
The perfect time to clean out your gutters is after the last leaf falls (or close to it). Cleaning your gutters and downspouts prevents water damage to your roof, siding, and even your home's interior. It can also help to keep water away from your foundation and out of your basement.
If you are uncomfortable climbing or using a ladder, call in a professional who can make all the leaves and other debris disappear.
Hoses should hibernate, too
Just like bears, garden hoses should take a rest for the winter and reemerge in the spring. As you may remember from science class, water expands when it transforms from a liquid to a solid. This phenomenon can happen inside your garden hose and external water pipes, too, and can cause incredible damage to your home.
Don’t forget to drain your outdoor faucets. This is easily done by turning off your home’s water supply, opening the exterior faucets, and allowing the water to drain. Once the water stops flowing, turn the spigot off and then turn your home’s water supply back on.
Perform your monthly safety tests
Check your smoke detectors and carbon dioxide monitors to make sure they're working properly. While you are at it, check their expiration dates, too. If any of the devices have expired, replace them with 10-year sealed options. These units have longer batteries that can last up to 10 years. (You should still check them monthly in case they malfunction.)
In the meantime, keep extra batteries on hand to avoid disconnecting your detectors for any length of time.
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