Before you cozy up in front of the fire, complete a few simple fall projects to keep your home and lawn in tip-top shape come spring.

Every fall, it’s time to take care of some big and small chores to keep homes and lawns healthy and ready for winter’s weather. We’ve listed a few reminders.

After leaves have fallen

Well, there’s the raking, of course. But you also need to check for areas of piled leaves that might hold moisture where you don’t want it, such as around basement or low window sills and seldom-used doors. But most of all, look up. Clean out gutters and downspouts after leaves have fallen. Then flush them out and inspect them. If you see cracks and damage, it’s best to make repairs before winter snow and ice arrive.

If you’ve had ice dams in the past, you can also prevent future ice dams by having a home energy audit. An auditor or contractor who specializes in weatherization can spot air leaks or insulation problems that cause ice dams.

Problem windows and doors

Energy auditors also can spot leaky windows and doors. Signs of frost and condensation on windows are obvious signals, but feeling a draft also means these windows are fighting against the warmth you’re working so hard (and paying so much) to maintain in your home. It may be time to swap out problem windows before winter hits. If you’ve got several and the cost is too high, start with the worst offender or a window in the room you use most. Be sure to check caulking around the outside of windows to seal air from openings and the condition of weather stripping around doors. You can find plenty of DIY help online for replacing weather stripping.

Go up on the roof

There’s no more important time to check your roof than before winter sets in. Ice and snow pile up and melt slowly and thaw, then refreeze, and changing temperatures really take a toll. Add in a few blustery winds and you might find a shingle in your front yard. Some problems are obvious, such as loose tiles or shingles, or loose bolts on a metal roof. But if you haven’t inspected your roof in a few years, call in a trusted pro who can spot and fix hidden problems. If you have a flat roof, inspect around canales and reinforce; that’s where you’ll have problems and leaks. Be sure to blow off or pick up leaves and needles on flat roofs; don’t sweep off your pebbles to expose the asphalt.

Frost-proof faucets

Outdoor faucets can freeze easily in winter, especially if they’re on the north side of your home. If they’re not frost-proof, consider easily replacing them with one that is. Or disconnect your hose and drain the faucet if you won’t use it. If you might need it in the winter, find insulating covers. Be sure to drain your sprinkler system as well. It’s also a good idea to drain those rain barrels. The water inside can freeze and possibly crack the barrel.

Add some light

Your home won’t be as bright in winter unless you have really nice south-facing windows. If the shorter days bring you down, treat yourself to a new reading or task light. And think about safety since it now can be dark when family members leave for or return home from work and school. Are your porch and driveway lights on motion detectors? That way, nobody has to remember to turn them on. You can enhance security and add appeal with a new outdoor lantern or walkway lighting. Solar lighting is most energy friendly and quality fixtures should come on most evenings, but might not make it until daylight. If you need dependable lights, add a string of low-voltage exterior fixtures.

 A few housekeeping chores

And don’t forget the essential seasonal chores. Cover the evaporative cooler or air conditioner after cleaning and winterizing it. This prevents rust and keeps out drafts. Clean and winterize mowers, trimmers, and other lawn and garden equipment. It’s most important to take care of motorized items, but it’s also a good time to gather and clean all hand trowels, and especially clippers and loppers.

Of course, you’ll also want to get your furnace, fireplaces and wood stoves in good working order. And your teapot or coffee pot, so you can enjoy a warm drink before a blazing fire (or heater vent) on a cold winter night!

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