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10 Things you need to do around the house

Autumn is a great time for football, hot apple cider, and preparing your home for the cold weather so you save money and aggravation. While the weather is still relatively warm and the ground is not yet covered with snow, take advantage of autumn to complete some around-the-house projects. These 10 tasks don’t require a lot of time or money, so you can get them all done in a morning or less.

1. Don’t just clean the gutters—upgrade them10 Things you need to do around the houseMost homeowners know they need to clean leaves and other debris out of their gutters in the fall. It’s to ensure that water flows correctly to the downspouts, and doesn’t spill over, freeze, and turn your front steps and sidewalk into an ice rink. Overflowing gutters can also result in water running back toward the house, which can leak into the basement.

2. Whip your small engines into shape
10 Things you need to do around the house

Make sure your snow thrower starts, the tires are inflated, and everything is in working order. If there’s a problem, fix it now—before you have several inches of snow piling up in your driveway. Change the oil if you didn’t change it at the end of last season.

3. Feed your lawn
10 Things you need to do around the house

Even though your grass may not be growing right now, its roots are still active. Fertilizing in the fall promotes deep, healthy root growth before the grass goes dormant for the winter. Fertilizing now also helps the lawn turn green faster in the spring because of the nitrogen stored in the roots, and it makes the grass more resistant to disease and drought.

4. Fix concrete and asphalt cracks
10 Things you need to do around the house

To fix a crack, you start by cleaning it out with a wire brush. For cracks wider than about 1/4-inch, insert a foam backer rod or pour in sand until it’s no more 1/4-inch from the top. Then for concrete, fill the crack with a concrete crack sealer or concrete caulk. For asphalt, use an asphalt crack filler or, for larger holes, asphalt patch material. Use a putty knife to work the sealer or filler into the opening and smooth the surface.

5. Drain outside water lines and faucets
10 Things you need to do around the house

If you don’t do this, you could have an expensive mess on your hands. Water lines exposed to outside temps, including underground irrigation lines and exterior faucets, can freeze. When water freezes, it expands, which can crack the pipes or hose bibs.

6. Get your heating system in order
10 Things you need to do around the house
You need to change the furnace filter monthly to maximize the heating system’s efficiency. The filters trap dust and other airborne particles, and some also catch bacteria and pollen. This can reduce utility bills while also extending the lifespan of the furnace. While replacing the filter is straightforward, a common problem is inserting the new one backwards.

7. Clean your outdoor furniture and bring it indoors
10 Things you need to do around the house
Just because the table and chairs on your patio are labeled for outdoor use doesn’t mean they should be left outdoors all winter. Give them a thorough cleaning before you bring them inside, though. Remove the cushions, then use a dishwashing liquid in warm water and a sponge to clean the furniture.

8. Test your alarms and detectors
10 Things you need to do around the house

Over the next couple months, you’ll be decorating for the holidays, cooking big family meals, burning logs in your fireplace, probably lighting candles, and maybe setting up a Christmas tree. That means a lot of fun, but it also means increased safety hazards in the house.

9. Eliminate air leaks
10 Things you need to do around the house

Take a walk around your house and look for places where warm air can escape the house, or drafty air can come inside. Pay particular attention to areas around doors and windows.

10. Reverse the ceiling fan direction
10 Things you need to do around the house

Most ceiling fans have a “reverse” mode that changes the blade direction. Switch from a counter-clockwise rotation, which you use in the summer to create a breeze, to clockwise, which pushes the warm air near the ceiling downward to the living space.

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