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Fall Property Prep: How to Get Your Home Ready For Colder Weather

When you think of all the fall activities you can do as a family, you might picture going to your local apple orchard or heading to the pumpkin patch, coming up with Halloween costumes, and enjoying a cup of hot cocoa in the living room together. Most likely, prepping your home for the colder months isn't included in that list of enjoyable endeavors. But it's a highly important one that you can't afford to forget. If you want to protect both your property and your loved ones this fall and winter, you'll need to check off some maintenance tasks. This quick guide should help you to focus on some of the most essential ones.

Assess Your Windows and Doors

Leaks and drafts can make your home a lot less comfortable -- and your bills a lot harder to bear. Investing in proper attic insulation can save you anywhere from 10% to 50% on your heating and cooling bills, but the attic isn't the only place the air can escape. If your windows aren't energy efficient, now might be a good time to make that change. Weather-proofing your windows and doors can make a big difference. You may even consider running an energy audit, which can discern exactly where cold air could enter your home.

Clean Your Gutters

Clogged gutters put your home at risk for ice dams, roof damage, and water leaks. None of those are easy fixes, but they can be prevented if you clean the leaves and gunk out of your gutters before the winter hits. If you do it yourself, be sure to check your gutter flow to ensure you haven't missed anything. You may want to hire a professional for this job, however, especially if you don't have a second person to hold the latter and help with other aspects. While you're above the ground, you can conduct a quick visual inspection of your roof to ensure there are no missing or cracked shingles or other obvious signs of damage.

Help Out Your Landscaping

You may already know that spending merely 5% of your home's value on landscaping can increase your ROI by 15%. Your landscaping will thrive come spring if you take steps to care for it now. Rake up your leaves (otherwise, your grass won't look too good next year) and clean up the flower beds. Weeding, pruning, cutting, and mulching are all excellent ideas. Pull up your annuals, mow the lawn as directed, and give your trees a last long drink before the frost hits. Aerate, fertilize, and put out your bird feeders in advance of the cold weather, too.

Look For Exterior Issues

We already mentioned the gutters and the roof, but you can assess a few other potential issues on the outside of your home. Inspect your deck, patio, or gazebo for any safety problems or the need for sealing. You should also sweep and clean up these structures while you still can. Keep an eye out for foundation and driveway cracks and inspect your home's siding and paint job for any necessary fixes. Take a look both inside and outside your chimney to ensure you can keep that fire roaring all season long. Now's the time to take care of any problems you find.

Analyze Your HVAC

You rely on your heating system to keep you comfortable during the chillier months. But if you don't maintain your HVAC, you could find yourself in trouble come winter. You'll want to change out your filters and look (and listen) for anything that seems odd in the first days of running the furnace. If you haven't had your HVAC system checked in a while, you can't afford to wait. Since heating and cooling equipment becomes less efficient over time (and its physical life may be longer than its economic life), you may even want to find out whether your unit is nearing the end of its useful life to avoid a total breakdown on the coldest days of the year. While you're at it, you might want to install a programmable thermostat to save even more this winter.

There's a lot to do in order to ready your home (and your state of mind) for the colder months ahead. But if you get started on these tasks now, you'll benefit from peace of mind once the changing leaves start to fall.


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