As the seasons change and the weather cools in the Northern Hemisphere, your home can become susceptible to a long list of issues that are much less common during the hotter, dryer summer months. These issues can range from physical trouble with areas of your home to financial trouble in the form of high heating bills. Preparing well for this half of the year can really help you avoid problems like these later on in the year.
When it comes to how to prepare your home for fall and winter, there are a few things you should really consider. The first is whether you have any major repairs that need your attention before the colder and rainier weather really sets in. This includes any outdoor projects like landscaping or deck-building. After this, you’ll want to carefully go through your house and around your property making sure that everything needed to prepare for fall and winter has been done correctly.
What needs to be done to get ready for this half of the year will also vary by a couple of factors: where in the country you live and the age of your home. Some areas are known for their severe winters and anyone living in those areas likely already knows that they’ll need to do a little work to get ready for them. Likewise, if you live in an older house, you probably are used to its quirks and know if the pipes are at risk of freezing or not.
While these seasons can look vastly different depending on where you live, here are some general things to think about as you navigate how to prepare your home for fall and winter!
An uptick in your heating bills is pretty common this time of year, but what do you do when the jump is more than you expected? Well, you have a couple of options to explore if this is the case.
The first thing you may think to do is contact an HVAC contractor and have your home’s AC unit inspected. Heating repairs can be on the expensive side, but it’s important to remember that they’re also a one-time cost compared to the ongoing cost of high electric or gas bills. There’s also the potential risk to the unit itself if something really does need professional attention. Having a heating unit break down during the winter months can range from uncomfortable to dangerous depending on where you live, so it’s best to have it inspected if you suspect it isn’t working correctly for some reason.
If there’s nothing wrong with your home’s heater, but your energy bills are still higher than you’d like, you can explore the option of window replacement. Replacing your windows with more energy-efficient models can actually help cut down on how hard your home’s HVAC system has to work, which saves you money on your power bills. Older windows can let in drafts and moisture, which means extra work for your heater. Newer, better-sealing, more energy-efficient windows cut down on drafts and help your home seal up better, lessening the work your AC unit has to do.
When you’re considering how to prepare your home for fall and winter, windows should definitely be on the list, especially if you’re in an area of the country that routinely sees below-freezing temperatures during the winter months.
2. Inspect Your Roof
While roofing issues should always be addressed as soon as possible, you do have a little more leeway during the drier summer months than you do in fall and winter. Spring and summer’s longer, drier days don’t come with the risk of water damage caused by too much rain on loose or otherwise damaged shingles or tiling, so issues noticed in the summer have a little more wiggle room on timelines when it comes to getting them addressed.
When inspecting your roof for the changing seasons, start with any obvious flaws or issues you can pick up on just from looking. Broken, damaged, or missing shingles should be noted and addressed as soon as possible since water can get under them and affect the integrity of the roof structure. This is especially dangerous in the winter when freezing temperatures can cause ice to form in delicate areas of the structure, which can cause cracking.
Finding a good roofing company should really be done during the drier months as well, so you don’t have to spend too many rainy days checking out your options while your roofing issues continue to get worse.
3. Get Pests Under Control
It’s not just creepy crawly pests that may try to make your home their home for the winter. Small animals such as birds, mice, and squirrels can also decide that your warm, dry home is a great place to build their next nest. To help avoid this, one of the best things you can do is actually something we’ve already covered — take good care of your roof.
The roof is one of the easiest entry points for a variety of small pests and ensuring that your roof is sealed and secure is a great way to cut down on the odds of uninvited house guests. Loose gratings over vents or holes in the roof itself are an invitation to all kinds of critters, especially when they’re looking to get in out of the rain and the cold.
If you do find yourself dealing with a furry or feathered guest, a local pest control service should probably be your next phone call. While some simple removals can be handled by a homeowner, by and large this is a job that’s better left to the professionals, especially if there’s anything approaching an infestation.
4. Fix Cracked Concrete
It may not seem important at first glance, especially when we’re talking about how to prepare your home for fall and winter, but fixing those small cracks and breaks in your concrete driveway can save you a lot in the long run. During the rainier seasons, water can flow into the cracks and slowly begin to wear away at the edges of them, making them worse. As the temperatures continue to drop, that water can then freeze, expanding and pushing against the concrete on either side of the cracks, widening them.
Paving contractors can often fix these simple cracks for a relatively small fee, but waiting could end up costing you considerably more as those cracks get worse. Eventually fixing them isn’t really an option anymore and the entire piece has to be taken up and redone in order to be safe and stable again. Rather than go through all that, it usually makes the most sense to patch the cracks as soon as possible.
5. Inspect The Plumbing
While this may not be necessary for every home, it’s not a bad idea to have the plumbing system inspected if you’re living in an area of the country that gets extremely harsh winters. Pipes, especially water pipes, are vulnerable to colder temperatures and can even freeze and burst if not properly insulated. Any plumbing company should be able to tell you whether your pipes are at risk of freezing in the winter months or not, and shore them up if they happen to be.
Having the plumbing inspected as part of how to prepare your home for fall and winter can also potentially catch weak spots in the system that may have failed later and can instead be reinforced. While it’s not a guarantee, it is an extra line of defense against burst pipes and the subsequent water damage that comes with them.
6. Clean Out The Garage
This may seem like an odd one, but hear us out. Even an attached garage is usually more susceptible to temperature shifts than the rest of the house, especially if the garage isn’t finished out with insulation and drywall like the other rooms. This can make it a very inhospitable place for certain kinds of clutter, such as old paint cans and really anything that has the potential to freeze.
Start from one corner of the room and work your way around, getting rid of, donating, and re-organizing things as you go. Once that’s done, you’ll have a much neater space without perishable clutter. Storing things in heavy plastic bins is also a good idea as it gives them an extra layer of protection against the elements (and insects) while providing you with easier storage and the ability to label the containers.
Now is also a good time to work on the inside of the garage if it’s been on your to-do list for a while. Epoxy garage floor coatings are a great way to elevate the look and functionality of the space without having to take out a second mortgage just to redo the floor.
7. Finish Your Outdoor Projects
When it comes to how to prepare your home for fall and winter, most people think of the inside of their home as being the main focus, and it is for the most part. However, there’s also something to be said for getting projects done outdoors before the weather makes it impossible. Now’s the time to really go through your to-do list and see what needs to be done before the rain really sets in. Have a residential deck that’s half-finished? Do the trees need pruning? What about that landscape work you were doing?
If it feels like a lot to tackle at once, you can transfer the outdoor projects to a separate list, so you aren’t looking past a bunch of other unrelated tasks to see them.
So, there are seven things to consider when it comes to how to prepare your home for fall and winter. We hope this serves as a helpful guideline for you as the seasons change, and who knows? Maybe it even sparked a few ideas we didn’t directly bring up. There are always smaller, related tasks like cleaning out the gutters, which should really be done often in the fall due to the leaves, and salting the driveway.
Really, the degree of preparation you need for the change in the seasons partially comes down to where you live. If you’re in a milder climate where you don’t have to worry about the pipes freezing, then you probably won’t have much need of a plumber unless you have another issue that needs addressing. If, however, you’re living in an area that gets a heavy winter, it’s probably a good idea to have the system inspected at least every now and again, so you don’t end up with a burst water pipe and a lot of water damage to clean up.
How to prepare your home for fall and winter will also vary by the age of the home and whether it has a garage or not. Older homes with an unfinished attached garage will probably need the most shoring up before the seasons change, while newer homes can usually ride out the shift in weather without much issue.
Everyone’s home and ability to work on it is different, so at the end of the day you really just have to do your best with how to prepare your home for fall and winter. Wherever you live and whatever the age of your home, the basics remain the same — make sure your roof is secure to keep out critters and rain, make sure your home’s pipes are properly insulated to avoid having to deal with frozen pipes and water damage, make sure your home’s heater is running well, especially if you’re in an area of the country that sees dangerous winters, and finish any outdoor projects that can’t wait until the warmer months.