Earlier this year I wrote about home maintenance tasks I do in the spring to keep our house running efficiently. I thought it was an appropriate time as we move into fall, to point out some things I do to make sure the house is ready for winter.

One of the things I love about living in Colorado is the four distinct seasons we experience. But, the fluctuations in temperature and moisture can be hard on a house. Making sure things are set for the winter helps avoid costly issues that heavy snow and freezing temps can cause.

Here are some of the things on my fall to-do list to make sure we are set for the first snow:

Winterize the Lawn

As the grass starts to turn dormant for the winter, I like to give it a good feeding in the later part of fall. This helps the grass green up better in the spring and is critical to maintaining a healthy lawn.

How I do it: I head to the local garden center and pick up a winterizing fertilizer. Then, I like to mow first to pick up any leaves one last time before I apply the fertilizer. Make sure to water it in and you are all set for a healthy lawn come spring!

Store Garden Hoses

Make sure all hoses are removed from your outdoor faucets and empty of water. Leaving them attached increases the chances of water backing up into the pipes inside the exterior walls. If that water freezes, it can crack the faucet or pipes.

How I do it: I make sure all hoses are removed from outdoor faucets early in the fall just in case a sudden cold spell rolls through. I also store the hoses in the garage over the winter to lessen exposure to the elements and prolong the life of the hoses.

Drain the Sprinkler System

Even sprinkler lines that are underground can freeze, so it is a good idea to make sure your sprinkler system is ready to go for winter before it is too late. Of course, make sure the controller is off and inside valves are shut down.

How I do it: I prefer to hire an irrigation professional to come in and drain our system. They will also blow out all the lines with an air compressor to make sure all the water is out. This usually costs around $75, but it is cheaper than having to replace burst lines and valves in the spring (or having to buy an air compressor!)

Clean the Gutters

I do this in the spring too, but after all the trees drop their leaves, make sure to clean out those gutters for the winter. Rain and snow melt that doesn’t flow freely can freeze and cause pricey damage.

How I do it: I use a blower and my hands (with gloves) to make sure the gutters are clean. I also look for any damage or sagging that needs attention. If you see a lot of asphalt from your roof shingles, check out the roof while you’re up there to make sure it is in good repair. It’s important to mention safety here – using a leaf blower on the roof requires concentration and strength. If you have a steeply pitched roof or are at all concerned about being steady on your feet, hire a professional for this task.

Check and Service Your Furnace

The middle of freezing temps in the winter is no time to find out that your furnace is on the fritz. Making sure everything is working before winter will keep your family comfortable and safe on those frigid winter days (and nights.) Regular maintenance may also be required in order to keep any warranties valid on your HVAC system.

How I do it: I schedule an appointment with a heating and cooling company every year to inspect and service our heating system. It usually costs $70-$100 for them to come out to the house. I also make sure I change the filters every 60 days – I do this year-round. How often you change your filters depends on your household – my colleagues with multiple pets change theirs out more often.

Other Things to Consider

Much of this may depend on the climate you live in, but some other things to look at include:

  • Making sure there are no air leaks around doors and windows.
  • Check your chimney to ensure it is free of debris and animal nests.
  • Trim back plants and trees. Keep limbs and branches away from your house to avoid damage and excess moisture.

There you have it – another installment of our home maintenance series! Just like spring, looking after your home in the fall helps keep costs down and efficiency up.