7 Things All Homeowners Should Do as Fall Approaches

published Sep 21, 2021
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Man with artificial leg sweeping leaves in back yard.
Credit: Getty Images/JohnnyGreig

Fall technically starts on Sep. 22, so if you haven’t yet, it’s time to get started on your end-of-summer to-do list. If you get overwhelmed thinking of everything you have to do around your home to prepare for the colder months, you’re not alone. Luckily, Apartment Therapy put together a list of the seven things every homeowner should do ahead of the changing seasons

Replace your HVAC filter.

The average household spends more than $600 on heating bills each year, according to Bailey Carson, home care expert at Angi. That means that tackling your HVAC needs before winter begins is a must. “To keep your costs down, improve airflow, and prevent your furnace from working overtime, replace your HVAC filter with a new one from your local hardware store and feel the difference!”

Seal doors and windows.

Cracked caulk, broken seals, and cracks in framing can all let hot air out of your home while letting cool air in. That’s why Mike McCalley, owner of Mr. Handyman of greater Jacksonville, Florida, a Neighborly company, says you should seal your doors and windows before the mercury begins to drop. “Door and window caulk doesn’t cure properly below 50 degrees Fahrenheit,” he explains. “If the caulking around your doors and windows is getting old, cracking, pulling away, and looking like it will not last through another winter — you must get this done before daytime temperatures drop below 50 degrees.” 

Replace batteries and outdated safety measures.

Daylight saving time has always been considered the perfect time to check the batteries in your detection devices. “Now is a good time to install smoke and carbon monoxide detectors near bedrooms and around a heat source,” explains J.B. Sassano, president of Mr. Handyman. “If you already have them, check them and replace the batteries if necessary.” If you have hardwired models, check and see if there are battery backups installed. If so, you’ll want to replace them as well.

Add weatherstripping and door sweeps.

Similar to sealing the caulk around your doors and windows, you should add weatherstripping to the areas where gaps may have formed. “As winter sets in we do feel the drafts of cold air that find their way around and under exterior doors to our interiors,” explains McCalley. “This is often because the weatherstripping (the two sides, and across the top) and the door sweep (underneath the door) are worn and not doing their job any longer.” This is an easy way to limit how much of your hard-earned money literally flies out the door this winter. 

Check the exterior of your home for areas where heat may be escaping.

Your windows and doors aren’t the only trouble spots that can allow heat to escape from your home. “Air leaks can decrease home efficiency by 5 to 30 percent each year, according to the U.S. Department of Energy,” explains Sassano. “Look closely at places where two different materials meet — corners, around chimneys, windows, doors, or along the foundation — and seal gaps with caulking and weatherstripping.”

Winterize your outdoor faucets.

A burst pipe can be an expensive problem, which is why Sassano suggests winterizing any outdoor plumbing before the freezing temperatures arrive. “Protect outdoor faucets from freezing by draining the water and closing off the supply valve that supplies the outdoor spigot.”

Clean your gutters and downspouts.

Clogged gutters can lead to a buildup of rainwater, snow, and ice that can cause cracks in your home’s foundation, leading to water damage and even roof damage, according to Carson. “By removing clumps of leaves and other debris with gloved hands and then flushing downspouts with running water from a hose, you can clear blockages before they become problematic.” If you’re less of a DIYer and more of a hirer, you can call in the pros. According to Carson, the average cost for a routine gutter cleaning is around $160.