It’s that time of year again, and I have to say I absolutely love it. It’s the time of year where you can really open up your windows, air out your house, and let the crisp cool autumn air inside. In respects to a season where your house is probably the healthiest in terms of indoor air quality, this is it. Many of us have been running our air conditioner all summer long and we’ve been trying to block those amazing sunshine rays to prevent the heat from affecting our house. But now, with fall around the corner (or here in some parts of the Country), it’s that time to enjoy the unfiltered sunshine and breathe in the fresh air (along with a little healthy home maintenance).
Autumn is also a time to prep for winter. Just like families used to prepare their house and food supply, we too still do this in some ways. Planning ahead is a great way to ensure that you won’t have as many issues or unforeseen problems with your home when the really cold weather hits in a few months (sorry to even mention that!).
I always plan best with a paper to do list and a mapped out idea of what I need to purchase and how I will execute my plan. I’ve created a seasonal home maintenance checklist for autumn that will help you not only know what tasks should be done around your house, but you’ll have an idea of what to prepare for and purchase before the snow falls. Plus this list is so easy, any homeowner can follow the ideas outlined.
Download Your FALL CHECKLIST & WORKBOOK
HOME MAINTENANCE #1: PREVENT MOISTURE
Preventing moisture around your home is one of the best ways I know to keep a home healthy. Added moisture to the home through leaks or a damp foundation will add moisture to the indoor air as well. Indoor air that is high in humidity also means that your home is more subject to dustmites, mold and mildew. Higher indoor air humidity also means that any toxins and VOCS in building materials will off-gas at a much higher rate. This is especially true of formaldehyde and plasticizers that are used in many applications around the home. Avoiding formaldehyde doesn’t have to be as scary as it sounds. I’ve outlined everything you need to know in my blog post here.
Preventing moisture can be as easy as taking a walk around your foundation to ensure nothing has changed throughout the summer. These are small tasks any homeowner can do or inexpensively hire out:
- Clean debris from gutters (if you don’t have gutters, talk to a professional in your area to determine if your home could benefit from them).
- If you’ve had ice dams in the past, get some heat tape for your roof and install it or have a handyman install it for you to prevent problems come winter.
- Walk around the exterior and check for any holes or gaps in siding that will allow moisture to enter.
- Walk around the foundation to ensure garden areas and grading are not sloped towards your home.
- Seal up any gaps around windows and doors that might allow moisture to infiltrate your home as snow falls and melts.
- Add a waterproof coating to your exposed foundation walls
HOME MAINTENANCE #2 PLAN AHEAD FOR INTERIOR PROJECTS
This is the fun part of fall maintenance and my fall checklist. Planning ahead for interior projects over the winter is a great use of time and resources while the weather outside is less than desirable. I find that using a worksheet I can fill in is the best way to plan ahead for the winter projects I want to accomplish.
I use this worksheet for anything from repainting a room to changing out pictures and shelf decor. It especially helps me have all my supplies together before I decide to start on the project itself. Having an idea of what I’ll need and how much this particular project will cost is extremely helpful when it comes to getting a project started and ultimately completed.
You can download my Project Planning Worksheet to help you with some winter projects this year:
HOME MAINTENANCE #3: PREVENT PESTS AND OTHER UNDESIRABLES
Dreaded rodents and pests making their home inside your own home is one of the most unnerving occurrences. I completely understand that living in the Midwest where all pests want is a nice warm house. Not my house! Not only do pests and rodents introduce different diseases, viruses and bacteria, but they can also create problems within the structure of the home.
Fall is a time to make preparations in repelling and preventing these little nuisances from entering your house or garage. With just a few easy steps, you can easily prevent this problem from ever taking hold at your home:
- Seal any gaps or holes in siding or roofing with an exterior epoxy
- Make sure there are no holes in screens or windows that may allow anything inside
- Make sure weather stripping on the garage door is intact and not missing or damage
- Make sure your service door from the home to the garage has a self-closing hinge
- Use cotton balls dipped in peppermint essential oil to repel pests and rodents
- Use my FAVORITE Toxin Free Pest Control Products from EarthKind (More about them in this blog post)
HOME MAINTENANCE #4: REMOVE FOLIAGE
Essentially, raking up any dead leaves and plants from gardens and lawn areas will help prevent your exterior surroundings from holding onto moisture. Gardens often get forgotten in the fall as our beautiful flowers have gone dormant and our time is spent more indoors than outdoors. But it’s important to clean out garden beds, especially if they touch the side of the home or decking in any way. By cleaning out garden areas you can reduce the moisture in the soil that touches your foundation. You’ll also get rid of a spot for pests and animals to make a winter home next to your house.
You’ll also want to remove leaves and debris from gutters. Plugged up gutters will only bring melting snow and fall rain right next to your foundation. And make sure those downspouts are clear of debris as well.
Some places you can check around your own home to remove dead leaves and foliage are:
- Garden Beds
- Gutters & Downspout
- Window Wells
HOME MAINTENANCE #5: PREPARE FOR WINTER
Sorry to bring it up, but it IS around the corner. Snow and ice and all those cold temps are on their way here before you know it. Being on top of what you might need before you need it is key. Some areas of the country may not have to worry about this on a regular basis, but it’s a good idea to have SOME preparation for snow and ice removal.
For my family, it means tuning up the snow blower sometime in the fall and making sure plenty of fuel is on hand to run it. It also means stocking up on salt to melt iced walkways. For you it could be using sand if you live in an area that utilizes sand instead of salt.
It could also mean prepping your snow shovels and ice picks. Whatever it does mean for you, it’s a good idea to have everything in working order and have everything you need before the weather gets too cold. It may also include items on the inside of your house too. Things like furnace filters should be replaced at least once over the winter, so having them on hand is always a good idea.
Items to tune up or stock up on before the cold weather starts:
- Tune up Snow blowers/Snow throwers
- Check Shovels and Ice Picks
- Check Heat Tape on Roofs or Purchase New
- Stock up on Sidewalk Salt or Sand
- Purchase Extra Furnace Filters (NordicPure is my Favorite)
HOME MAINTENANCE #6: WINTERIZE AND PROTECT
In many areas, the weather gets just too cold to allow outdoor faucets to remain on all winter. If you do happen to leave them on, you’ll find out very quickly that they may begin to leak inside or outside the house. It’s important to winterize any exterior plumbing lines and any sprinkler lines to ensure that the lines to sustain damage over the winter.
It’s also a great time to winterize and seal concrete. Concrete that has to endure the hardship of winter, and especially salt to melt the ice, can become very problematic with cracking and deterioration. If you weren’t able to seal your concrete driveway in the spring or summer, this is one last time before winter that you can take advantage of nice weather.
Don’t forget about protecting your exterior furniture and grills from the elements as well. We usually store our cushions and furniture in the garage for the duration of the winter, but you could also use protective covers depending on the severity of your winter. Grills should be disconnected from their fuel supply and covered or brought inside to protect them from the elements of winter.
Finally, some plants can be extremely sensitive to cold and harsh winters and need to be wrapped to protect their foliage or covered to keep them from the snow and ice. You’ll want to note any plants that you’ve had problems with in the past and take care of them ahead of time this winter.
BONUS: PLAN OUT HOW YOU'LL VENTILATE YOUR HOME
If you caught my last blog post about ventilation, then this tip is a bit of old news (but still important news).
If you live in a climate where autumn and winter are brutally cold (I’m from Minnesota — and I totally get this climate), then you want to have a plan as to how you will introduce fresh air into your space. The winter months mean that our homes are closed up and in that time, they can become very unhealthy. Houses must have a way to breathe and get fresh air inside, and as the homeowner, you get to be in charge of that.
Come up with a loose plan to allow your home some fresh air over the cold months. For me, I open windows in each bedroom for 10-15 minutes a day while they’re unoccupied and the door is closed. I run the ceiling fan and whole house HVAC fan while I’m doing this.
We also run the HVAC fan more frequently in the winter to push air around the house. If the temperatures get warm at all, I open up windows on the south side of our home to let the warmer fresh air inside for 10 -15 minutes.
You don’t have to go overboard, but any little way you can improve your ventilation in the cool months will make your home a healthier space.