The lazy days of summer are long gone, and with fall’s arrival comes the urgency to prepare for the winter season. Follow these steps to ensure safety and comfort in the coming months.
Take Simple Steps to Start
Some tasks require little time — and no money — so tackle these right away.
- Turn Off Outside Faucets
With a turn of the wrist, you can cut off the water supply to your outside faucets. This will prevent water stored in your pipes from freezing and perhaps bursting.
While you’re at it, drain your garden hose, roll it up and store it till spring. This should keep the hose from cracking in extreme temperatures. Be sure to do this before the temperature drops below freezing point at night.
- Store Outdoor Furniture and Accessories
When those north winds come blowing, you don’t want your summer furnishings to blow away, too. Wipe down furniture with a damp cloth to remove pollen and spills and then store in a garage or basement.
If you have covers for your outdoor furnishings, put them on and move the pieces closer to the house to prevent gusts from flipping tables or lounge chairs.
Clean cushions with a lint roller and a damp sponge and then store in containers.
- Reverse the Direction of Your Ceiling Fans
If you have a newer model fan, you can reverse the air distribution from your fans by simply pushing a button. In the colder months, you want warm air pushed away from the ceiling and back into your living space. You’ll feel more comfortable and save energy in the process.
For those who aren’t sure which direction is which, look at your ceiling fan when it’s on a slow speed. It should be spinning clockwise in the colder months.
- Change Your Bed Linens
Nothing says cozy like a comfortable bed. Strip off summer-weight linens and blankets, then wash and store them. Tuck fabric sheets inside their folds to ensure a pleasant, non-musty smell come springtime.
Make your bed with flannel sheets and pile on a thick wool blanket and a comforter —you’ll be snug as a bug in a rug.
Stock up on Household Necessities
If you want to feel warm and secure this season, order your fuel and pack for emergencies now.
- Order Home Heating Oil
Because oil prices fluctuate, consider whether to pay market price, pre-buy for the season or join an oil-buying group to negotiate discounts. Government heating assistance programs are available for qualified applicants. Make a purchasing plan now.
- Collect Firewood
A crackling fire creates wintertime ambiance, but if you use a wood stove as a primary or secondary source of heat, you especially need to stock up on firewood. According to The Old Farmer’s Almanac, the best firewood, because of its heat value, produces the equivalent of 200-250 gallons of fuel oil. Varieties of this caliber include red oak, white oak, sugar maple and others.
When you order firewood, be sure it is seasoned and clean, not muddy. Full cords should measure 128 cubic feet or 8’ x 4’ x 4’.
- Pack an Emergency Safety Kit
One of the great joys of homeownership is the comfort of shelter when the weather is nasty. However, sitting fireside is not so charming when heavy snow or an ice storm has knocked out the power. Be sure to have a safety kit packed ahead of time in case of an extended emergency.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration advises people to pack such things as a radio, a flashlight, batteries, trash bags and a can opener.
- Replace Your Air Filter
This one you might not have to do yet. Your air filter should be changed at least once a year (though most air filters say every six months).
Plan for Professional Help
Just because you own a home doesn’t mean you can handle all aspects of home maintenance. Often, it’s better to leave complicated or dangerous tasks to professionals.
- Arrange for Chimney Cleaning
According to the Chimney Safety Institute of America, homeowners should have chimneys inspected each year. You can inspect your fireplace and chimney by using a flashlight to spot cracks or signs of distress. Even if a fireplace is not used enough to warrant a yearly cleaning, animals may nest in or near chimneys, causing other problems.
If your chimney does need cleaning, it is a dirty DIY project. Arrange to hire a professional team. Certified chimney sweepers have access to tools and methods that are beyond the average homeowner.
- Tackle Tool Tune-Ups
Before you park your mower in the garage, clean it up with a sponge bath. Then consider visiting a small engine repair shop for maintenance on its parts. It may need sharpened blades, an oil change or a new spark plug and air filter.
Similarly, if you have a snowy winter ahead of you, make sure your snow blower is fit for battle.
Be sure your non-power tools are at the ready, too. Replace damaged ice scrapers and snow shovels now before weather threats cause long lines at hardware stores.
- Address Gutter Cleaning
If you are comfortable on an extension ladder and don’t mind scooping up soggy leaves and debris, you can save money by cleaning your own gutters. If that’s not your ideal way to spend a weekend afternoon, consider hiring a professional or solve the issue by getting a gutter cover installed.
The risks of cluttered gutters include water and ice dams that damage the frames and cause interior leaks.
With a little effort and planning this fall, you can rest comfortably and soundly through the harshest season of all.
Ali Lawrence writes about healthy and sustainable living via her family blog Homey Improvements. She was born and raised in Alaska and dabbles in organic gardening, yoga and photography. Read more about her DIY projects and home advice on her blog or follow her on Pinterest.