As the fall weather gives way to much cooler (and sometimes bitter) temperatures, you may be looking for fall home improvement projects to hurry up and finish before winter hits.
Use the seven must-do fall home improvement tips below to spruce up your home before winter arrives.
1. Repair or Replace Your Roof
Though this project counts as home maintenance, it’s also a great home improvement that will boost the resale value of your home. Start by replacing any missing or loose shingles in advance of the first snowfall. If you have any leaks or gaps, snow and ice will find its way in. Next, examine your roof or hire a licensed professional to inspect it. If you have to replace it, choose a shingle that performs well in the area in which you live. For example, if you live in the snow belt, consider roofing that is durable and can withstand the snow and heavy wind, such as asphalt shingles.
2. Repair the Cracks in Your Driveways and Walkways
Small cracks in your asphalt driveway can quickly become large cracks if not properly filled in before winter arrives. The repair process for small cracks and divots is pretty simple, requiring only:
- A bucket of filler.
- Caulking gun.
- Shop vacuum.
- A hammer and chisel.
For walkways, the repair process will vary based on the type of path. Most stone walkways can be repaired with a little elbow grease and these supplies:
- Wire brush.
- Mortar-joint repair caulk.
- Flat trowel.
- Concrete-block adhesive.
3. Clean and Seal Your Deck
Another fall home improvement must is to do all your safety checks on your deck and get it ready for spring. J.B. Sassano, president of Mr. Handyman, recommends “walk[ing] around the deck and sprinkl[ing] water on several different areas. If water soaks into the boards, it’s time to reseal the deck. If water forms a puddle or beads up, the deck is repelling water and will be safe for the winter.”
4. Check Your Heating System’s Efficiency
Your heating system is the heart of your home in the winter, so make sure to cross it off your fall home maintenance checklist. Check your heating system to ensure peak performance and discover any minor problems now before they turn into money-guzzling repairs. Older gas and oil furnaces (over 20 years old) can be up to 50 percent less efficient than modern units, forcing you to spend more for less heat. When shopping for replacements, look for the Energy-Star label. Furnaces that meet Energy-Star standards will give you the biggest bang for your home improvement buck.
For even more energy savings, consider installing a programmable thermostat, such as a Nest or Wi-Fi-enabled Honeywell thermostat. A smart thermostat will allow you to program a heating schedule that balances savings with comfort and could save you up to 12 percent annually on your heating bill.
5. Clean Your Fireplace, Inside and Out
If you have a fireplace, proper inspection is key to ensuring its safe operation. If you use your fireplace a lot during the winter, you should make sure it’s cleaned at least once a year to prevent chimney fires. Even if you plan on cleaning and maintaining it yourself, have a professional do an initial inspection. While you’re cleaning out your brick fireplace, give your hearth and mantelpiece a quick face-lift using the steps below from Scott Specker, owner of Five Star Painting:
- Remove Dirt: Wiping the surface down with a damp cloth should do the trick.
- Mix & Apply Paint: The first coat of paint should be two parts white paint, one part grey and two parts water. Use an oval-shaped, flat brush to apply the paint to the bricks.
- Add Color: Next, create new color using ¾ cups water, ¾ cups black paint and ¾ cup French Roast paint color. Using this mixture, take a rag (not a brush) and apply paint to the area in different places.
- Use a Wax Finish: Finally, apply wax to the bricks using the same type of rounded brush.
6. Clean Your Gutters and Downspouts
Cleaning gutters is not the most glamorous of home maintenance tasks, but it’s important to get it done in the fall to prevent ice dams during the winter. To clean out your gutters, remove any leaves, twigs and other debris that is preventing proper drainage. Then, flush your gutters with water, inspect the joints and tighten the brackets if necessary. For a more permanent solution, consider using a gutter guard. They’re easy to install and will keep you off a ladder.
7. Prep Your Lawn by Cutting and Aerating
One last fall home maintenance tip is to get your yard in shape for the long winter nap. This includes raking leaves and aerating, which will keep your grass and garden beds from suffocating. Now is the time to meet with a professional and start laying the groundwork so you’re ready to roll come spring. According to Beau Tanner, owner of The Grounds Guys, you should make time to check these items off your landscaping maintenance list:
- One Final Cut: Give the yard that one last cut, taking it down to about two inches. This will make it easier for fall clean up as leaves blow across the shorter grass easier.
- Aerate: Aerating the lawn helps the micronutrients get into the soil and feed the lawn before the colder winter months.
- Use a Good Pre-Emergent: Putting down a good pre-emergent will keep winter weeds from germinating and thus not “stealing” the nutrition from the soil.
Now that you know which home projects to take on this fall, you will be better prepared for winter. Have another fall home improvement project you would like to share? Leave us a comment below or check out the home improvement section of our blog for more DIY tips and tricks.