Fall cleaning isn't always as popular as spring cleaning, but it is getting to be that time for preparing our homes for cooler days and longer nights. Here are 10 ideas to help get our homes ready for the inevitable winter ahead.
1) Add weatherstripping to doors and windows
This will seal small gaps, and keep moisture and cold air outside where it belongs. On the doors, look for torn or missing weatherstripping and make sure the bottom seal is working properly. If your windows are older, new weatherstripping will keep drafts at bay and enery costs down.
2) Check storm windows
If you have storm windows that are cracked or dirty, repair and clean them now - prior to autumn installation.
3) Fight winter with plywood
If you have some spare plywood, set it aside and when a cold snap is predicted, set the boards against the exterior basement vents. This can prevent frozen pipes. Be sure to remove them when the weather warms up, the vents are there for a reason.
4) Insulation speculation
This is a good time to check the condition of insulation and see if you need more. Blown-in insulation in the attic and the walls can offset the cost of a full procedure in a couple of years.
5) Check your gutters
Do a quick check to make sure your gutters are clear -- they will be needed for rainstorms, falling leaves as well as the spring snow melt.
6) Keep mice out
Mice are looking for a winter home now. They can squeeze through a quarter inch opening; rats need a half an inch. Make sure all exterior vents are screened, and there are no gaps underneath garage doors. Pet doors are another favorite access. If you are careless now, you maybe setting mousetraps later.
7) Caulk exterior
Caulk is like weatherstripping in a tube. Any gaps outside the house can be a candidate for caulking. Corners, windows, doors, areas where masonry joins siding are transition spots. Make sure the caulk you buy will work where you plan to use it. Caulk can be difficult to apply when it gets cold, so the earlier in the fall, the better.
8) Got wood?
If you have a wood stove or fireplace, it isn't too early to get a supply of firewood. Oak, hickory and maple are slow, hot, clean burners that require less maintenance than soft woods like fir and cedar. Keep wood piles away from the house as they attract insects and animal pests. Wood dries best when it is protected from rain so keep it under a carport or covered shelter.
9) Clean the dryer vent
Move your dryer away from the wall, unplug it and vacuum behind it. If it is gas, turn off the gas supply at the appliance shutoff valve. Unhook the tube that leads to the vent and clear as much lint from it as possible. Grab a shop vac and tackle it from the outside vent too.
10) Inspect your roof and chimney
If the roof isn't too steep, on a dry day, walk on it and look for missing shingles, missing or damaged flashing as well as seals around vent pipes and chimneys. Also check for damage around the eaves and boards around it. Look down your chimney and make sure no animals have set up shop there. Patching and roofing cement can prevent thousands of dollars of water damage later in the winter.
By MSN Real Estate Partner