6 Home Maintenance Tasks to Tackle This Fall

Whether you want to take care of basic fall prep chores or spice up your home to put it on the market, home maintenance tasks will likely keep you busy this fall. When you’re making your to-do list, don’t forget about these fall projects.

1. Protect Pipes, Check the Water Shut-off Valve

As temperatures begin to stay below freezing, the potential rises for frozen pipes, which are both inconvenient and expensive to fix. Here are a few measures you can take to keep your pipes from freezing and your water running:

  • Wrap exposed plumbing in foam insulation. An old blanket will also work. Close foundation vents and open cabinet doors under the kitchen, bathroom, and utility sinks before leaving so warm air can flow to the pipes.
  • Set the house thermostat at 65 degrees or higher during the winter months.
  • Track down the water shut-off valves in the house to make sure it turns. It is better to lubricate or repair it now than find out it’s stuck when you are knee-deep in water from a burst pipe.
  • Remove all hoses from outdoor faucets.
  • Drain the water from your sprinkler system. Although Denver lifts its lawn watering restrictions, it’s a good time to turn the sprinklers off and let the lawn go dormant for the winter.

2. Clean and Seal the Crawl Space

Keeping the crawl space clear of debris will make your home more energy-efficient. Removing clutter from the crawl space also helps if you have a busted water pipe or gas line. Follows these steps to be sure you have maximum airflow throughout your home:

  • Close the vents that surround your home’s exterior. Crawl space vents allow air to flow; this prevents moisture and mold, especially during warm and wet seasons. Leaving these vents open during winter’s cold weather cools down the floors — even your fuzzy slippers won’t keep you warm!
  • Waterproof and seal cracks to keep wet air out. Sealing a basement or crawl space is not something everyone can do. You might want to consult a professional.

3. One Last Mow, Then Winterize Your Mower

Not exactly a home maintenance chore, but we can all be thankful mowing season is over! Well, almost. If you have deciduous trees in your yard, the raking season has begun. Complete these steps to clean up those pesky leaves and prepare your tools for next year:

  • Get rid of the leaves before the snow falls. Piles of wet leaves can breed snow mold and other lawn diseases, so blow them into a pile and recycle or use as compost. 
  • Use your mower one last time to run over any remaining leaves and mulch them into your lawn.
  • Prep the mower for next spring and drain unused gas. Gas left in the mower can oxidize and create small deposits in the tank. Be sure to dispose of the gas and oil through your neighborhood hazardous waste program.
  • Clean yard tools and store them so they are easily accessible.
  • Cover outdoor patio furniture and remove any cushions that could be ruined.
  • Place snow shovels and salt easily within reach.

4. Overseed the Lawn, Protect the Trees, ‘Unplant’

Overseed thinning patches of the lawn before it becomes completely dormant for the winter. Take care of your trees and gardens with these tips:

  • Overseed before the first frost of the season. This allows seeds to take root so they’ll germinate in the spring. Most Colorado lawns are cool-season varieties — Kentucky bluegrass, fine fescue, and perennial ryegrass.
  • Trees such as Bradford pears, species of dogwoods, cherry, or beech do not do well in harsh winters so cover the trunk with tree wrap and secure it with duct tape.
  • Remove old or dying plants from your garden bed. Also till the soil and add plant debris. This gives the material time to break down into nutrients that are available for the spring plants.

5. Clean Gutters and Downspouts

Falling leaves are bound to clog up your home’s draining system, so clearing out Mother Nature’s detritus is a definite chore to tackle before the snowfalls. The last thing you need is for freezing water to weigh down the gutters and damage the roof. Take a garden hose or pressure-washer and flush out leaves, needles, dirt, and debris from the gutters. Inspect chimney flashing, too.

6. Weather-Tight Windows

Doors and windows are notorious for letting cold air in, even when they’re closed. Weather-tight windows keep drafts outside, heat inside, and your heating bill under control.

  • Scrape off old caulk from the outside of a window using a putty knife or painter’s tool.
  • Clean the dirt, wipe the surface dry, then apply new caulking around the perimeter of the window.
  • After the caulking is dry, use weather stripping to seal around the sash.

Homeowners, you know the drill. Outdoor and home maintenance chores are part of the deal. Do it yourself or get someone to do it for you, but don’t put it off — winter is just around the corner!

Jean Summers owns a flower shop and sprinkler company. She’s as handy with power tools as she is with a pen. She writes how-to manuals in her spare time.

Originally published October, 2019.