Attic insulation is a smart investment. It conserves energy by trapping heat in the winter, thereby saving your furnace from excess wear and tear. When adding new insulation, however, don’t make the mistake of blocking your home’s soffit vents. These vents are vital for maintaining the flow of fresh air in the attic. If you’re adding batts, cut them to fit around, not over, soffit vents. If you’re blowing in attic insulation, cover the soffit vents with a piece of batt insulation or a board, and remove the cover after the blown-in insulation settles.
While it may be tempting to prune deciduous trees in the temperate days of early fall, you shouldn’t trim a tree before it’s dormant. Pruning too early, when the tree still has leaves, can increase the risk of tree-borne diseases. To keep your landscape looking its best, wait until early winter to thin crowded branches and remove diseased limbs.
Don’t stop watering your lawn as soon as temperatures drop! Your grass still needs moisture until the ground freezes. Cool-season grasses, such as fescue and Kentucky bluegrass, experience growth in the fall, and they need adequate water to maintain healthy root systems.
Left to pile up in the gutter, decomposing leaves and debris can block downspouts and trap water. As temperatures drop and the water freezes, these blockages can lead to damage to the house as well as the gutter. To clean out your gutters in preparation for winter, wait until all the leaves have fallen from the trees, and pay special attention to safety. Always use a sturdy ladder and wear shoes with nonslip soles. The ladder should be tall enough so you don't have to stand on the top rung or overreach, both of which increase the risk of falling. Recruit an assistant who can steady the bottom of the ladder and hand up tools.
During the winter, melted snow can seep into sidewalk cracks. The water can then refreeze and expand, which creates larger cracks and heaved concrete. On a dry fall day, sweep out all debris and crumbled concrete from the cracks, then fill them with a flexible concrete crack sealer to keep moisture out. For the best results, fill sidewalk cracks when the daytime temperature is above 50 degrees. If it’s too cold, the concrete sealant will not adhere properly, and water seepage can still occur.