As we transition out of the warmer summer months, it is important to prepare our home for the colder season ahead. While we prepare ourselves by pulling out our long stored jumpers, prepare your home for fall by performing some important maintenance.
Although it would be nice to leave fall home prep at fall decor ideas and making the best fall wreath ideas, more important matters such as cleaning out your home guttering, preparing winter insulation, and cleaning the more neglected areas of your home should also be tended to before the temperatures begin to drop.
Here, a range of experts have provided their top tips for preparing your home for fall so that you can go into the holiday seasons and start decorating for fall with peace of mind.
Chiana has written over 70 articles for Homes & Gardens, many of which focus on home and garden care. She spends her days talking to leading industry experts about how to maintain a home and shares their advice with H&G readers so they can get the most out of their properties.
As we approach fall, Chiana is turning her attention to seasonal topics due to her love of the season and affection for seasonal trends and design.
How do I prepare my home for fall?
As the months get colder and then nights get darker, it is important to prepare your home for the seasonal changes. By completing big home maintenance tasks in the brief period between the end of summer and the beginning of fall your home will be better prepared for the drastic weather changes such as heavy rain, frosts, and possible high winds coming its way.
Early maintenance and preparation are proven to prevent major damages and save you money in the long run, so it is more than worth investing your time so that your property can look its best come the following summer.
1. Repair your lawn after the summer heat
The fall period is the perfect time to repair your lawn after the summer heat and days spent enjoying the sunshine.
‘Over the summer, soils have become very hard, dry, and compacted, preventing moisture from penetrating and slowing down recovery,’ explains David Truby, managing director at Greensleves (opens in new tab). ‘The best way to combat this is with an aeration treatment. Two great remedies to tackle these issues are hollow tine aeration or spiking. These will both help water, nutrients, and air get to penetrate the soil and get to the grass root, ultimately leading to a luscious green lawn in the fall.’
Fall is also the ideal time to overseed your lawn to get a thick and green lawn the following summer. ‘It also repairs bare patches and makes the lawn hardier by increasingshade, drought tolerance, and resistance to disease,’ adds David.
2. Plant fresh bulbs for next spring
Fall is the ideal time to plant many bulbs ready for the following spring and summer. Many flowers and plants, such as planting tulips, benefit from the colder temperatures to help their germination period
Learning what to plant in September, and what to plant in October can help you prepare your home and garden ideas for beautiful blooms in the summer.
3. Improve your home security for darker days
The fall months often see an increase in break-ins as the nights get darker. Because of this, it is important to protect your home and consider upgrading your home security with some of the best home security systems.
‘The garden should be the first line of defense for your home,’ explains Kevin Spencer, head of product management at Yale (opens in new tab). ‘Burglars use the cover of darkness and overgrown trees and shrubs to move around a garden undetected, so it’s worth ensuring the exterior of your property is up to scratch to beat the burglars this autumn. Firstly, check your fence panels and replace any loose slats and board up any holes. Double-check that gates are secure and invest in high-quality weatherproof padlocks for peace of mind, such as a Yale Maximum Security Weatherproof Padlock.
‘Once you’ve upgraded your door cylinder, it’s important to look at other forms of protection for the front door too. It pays to ensure the front of your home is well-lit, so security lighting is a great investment. Alongside lighting, a front door security camera or smart doorbell is effective in ensuring you can keep an eye on the front of your home from anywhere via a smartphone.
‘Once the external areas of your home have been secured, it’s also important to consider securing your property from the inside. After being used to leaving windows open over the summer period, as autumn hits, it’s worth ensuring that windows are kept shut and locked at all times, as burglars will use open windows to gain easy access to your home – Yale’s survey reveals that burglars gain access to a property through breaking a window in 25% of cases, with a further 21% seeing burglars gain access through an open window, ensuring your window locks are secured at all times is essential.’
4. Clean up and prepare decking areas
Maintaining your deck ideas is easy when you prepare in advance. ‘Start to get on top of sweeping fallen leaves, especially on the decking as they can stain and discolor it,’ advises Nathan Gamba, director at Protea Gardens (opens in new tab). ‘However, leave them in flower beds as they keep the roots of plants warm as the weather gets milder and provide shelter for insects,’ he adds.
Knowing how to paint a deck and how to stain a deck is a useful home maintenance skill in the fall months, although knowing when to prepare your deck for fall is equally important. ‘‘It is very important to take into account weather conditions when decorating, not only whilst doing the job but also during drying/curing times,’ warns Matthew Brown of Sadolin & Sandtex Technical (opens in new tab). ‘For example, during early fall, the mornings can be damp and the evenings see dramatic temperature drops increasing humidity levels which at best will slow down drying times but at worst and can allow moisture to get trapped in the coating film
‘To maintain decking for winter an extended period of drying time is required, so being aware of what the weather is doing before, during, and after the application is important. As a rule of thumb water based decking stain products will dry anywhere between four to six hours after the application to fully dry. If the water-based stain is rained on within the first hour of application, and the water puddles, the product will wash off. Always take into account the weather conditions before and after the application of the product.
‘Sadolin Wet wood decking stain (opens in new tab) [available on Amazon] is designed to go over wet decking. Wipe down the decking surface so that it is clean and then apply the paint whilst the wood is still wet. The product works fantastically well and removes the need for a large time frame for pre-application drying time and post-application drying time.’
You may also want to consider front porch cleaning tips and prepare your porch for fall in a similar way to your backyard deck.
5. Clear out gutters
Gutters can be forgotten about however it is important to check that they are not blocked or clogged before the rains set in over fall. Gutters can drain approximately thousands of gallons of water from your roof annually (depending on where you live) and, should they become clogged, you may end up with both interior and exterior water damage.
‘As long as you have the correct equipment, and importantly, you can keep safe, cleaning the gutters is a relatively easy task,’ says Jack Knight, category manager at Drainage Superstore (opens in new tab). ‘Wait for a dry day as this will not only make the surroundings safer, but it will also be easier to gather debris that isn’t saturated in water.
‘Find a sturdy ladder to help you reach the gutters safely and wear protective gloves. You can keep things neat by laying some tarpaulin on the ground below the ladders to help collect debris more easily. If that’s not feasible, hook a bucket to the top of the latter and collect debris in there instead – just remember to empty it periodically.
‘Once the roofline guttering clear, you can move onto the downpipes. Use a screwdriver to loosen the downpipe clips and brackets, then use a wire or stick – or even a hose – to dislodge any debris stuck in the pipe. Once clear, reconnect the pipes.’
As the leaves begin to fall, make sure to empty and clean gutters and drain pipes to ensure water can flow freely to external drains.
Keeping your home warm is important to save money at home and cut energy bills. One way to prepare your home for the fall months is to improve your home insulation, whether through long-term investments such as insulating materials, or simple, quick fixes such as new blinds and curtains.
A survey by BlindsbyPost (opens in new tab) found that, In fall, windows can be a large source of heat loss with up to 30% of a home’s heating energy lost through windows. Choosing the right window coverings for each room, can provide a great insulation solution and help keep your home warm.
Consider installing thermal blinds or thick, heavy curtains over your windows in the colder months to keep your home warmer and cozier. You may also want to consider installing curtains over your doors in particularly cold climates to prevent drafts.
7. Check your boiler and radiators
If your home has central heating, it is wise to check the system before turning it back on after summer.
‘Once fall arrives and the nights draw in, it’s tempting to turn the heating on. To be sure that your heating system is ready to jump into life when you need it, book an annual service before the weather changes,’ recommends Simon Morris, marketing manager at The Radiator Company (opens in new tab). ‘A good plumber will keep everything running smoothly and efficiently, including bleeding radiators and topping up the inhibitor in your system to prevent the build-up of damaging sludge.’
‘Checking the age of a boiler or having it serviced isn’t always at the top of people’s minds in the heat of summer, but getting ahead of winter with an upgrade can also ensure your home is ready ahead of the potential ban on gas boilers in the next decade,’ says property journalist and founder of Mad about the House (opens in new tab), Kate Watson Smyth. ‘Think of it as future-proofing your home. Newer hydrogen-ready boilers offer a lower carbon footprint and can use natural gas until the switch, meaning they’re much more environmentally friendly, which is certainly a priority for me.’
8. Prepare your exterior woodwork
‘Time spent now properly protecting it means exterior woodwork will be shielded from the worst weather of those seasons, saving you repair time and money in the long run,’ says Richard Bradley, marketing manager at V33 (opens in new tab). ‘Particularly important is making sure external woodwork is waterproof and protected from mold, mildew, and those pests that cause rot. In addition, the timber should be shielded from the effects of repeated exposure to sunlight, which can damage it.
‘Applying a decent wood stain is the effective way of creating a barrier, which protects the wood from water and the sun.’
9. Fill in any cracks around your property
Although a tedious task, making sure cracks in cement and wood are filled in correctly can save your home from worse damage in the long run. Water that freezes in cracks can expand, making cracks bigger and weakening the structural integrity of your property – whether this is on your house or your driveway.
10. Complete a full fall clean
‘With the weather finally taking a turn for the chillier, now is the perfect time to prepare for the cold months ahead by deep cleaning your home to create the ultimate clean and cozy haven,’ says Sue Caldwell, managing director of eco-cleaning brand Clean Living (opens in new tab). Although people traditionally partake in spring cleaning, fall cleaning is equally as important to prepare a home for the colder months.
‘Without regular cleaning, dirt, grime and pollution can slowly build up on your windows and significantly limit the little amount of daylight that will shine into your space,’ explains Sue. ‘Particularly in the fall, smears and streaks can be easily seen when the bright sunlight does shine on windows, so regular cleaning will keep them looking sparkling clean. It’s best to clean them during dull, cloudy days to avoid the sun leaving dry water marks on your windows and microfibre cloths are the best options for getting rid of stubborn smears.’
11. Clean wood burning stoves
‘Wood burning stoves generally require little upkeep, but there are some key tips and tricks to ensure your stove runs at maximum efficiency for a better burn, an optimum flame, and superior heat output,’ explains Phil Wood, UK country manager for Contura.
‘Maintaining a wood-burning stove is crucial to ensure it continues to work well; that extends to lighting it correctly and burning the right type of wood. When taken care of correctly and used in the right way, you can enjoy your wood-burning stove for many years.
‘Ensure the chimney and stove are swept professionally at least once a year minimum. There are a few tell-tale signs of when your chimney needs a professional clean, including burned wood smells when the fire is not lit; poorly burning fires or excessive smoke; and blackened glass.’
‘Ideally, the flue and stove should be swept before and after the heating season to prevent tar and soot deposit build-up,’ Phil adds.
12. Check your electrics
‘With fall approaching the nights are drawing in and it won’t be long until temperatures start to dip. As the weather changes, naturally electricity usage across all homes will increase. To ensure your property is fully prepared for the coming months here are three electrical components you must check over,’ warns Nigel Best, director of electrical training provider, Electrician Courses 4U (opens in new tab).
‘The consumer unit is the central hub of the electrical system in your house which is why it is essential that it is working properly and safely. Out of date consumer units are not adequate for electrical usage in modern homes and need to be replaced. Some things to look out for to identify an old consumer unit are if it has cast iron switches, is made of brown bakelite, or is mounted on a wooden board.
‘As the days get shorter our lights will be used more frequently. To ensure they’re in good working order for when you need them, light switch covers should have no signs of cracking or discoloration, this could mean the wiring behind is not sufficient. When it comes to the ceiling lights, make sure they are properly fitted to the ceiling and not loose. In terms of downlights, are there any noises coming from them? Common sounds are buzzing or crackling which is a sign that the wires in the ceiling void need to be checked.
‘On top of carrying out these inspections around the home, it’s also advisable to prepare yourself a power cut kit just in case. This should include battery-powered torches, spare batteries, a fully charged portable battery pack for your mobile phone, warm blankets, and a gas stove. While it might sound a bit extreme, you’ll thank yourself should one occur.’
Why is fall home maintenance important?
Fall home maintenance is important so that your property is in the best condition possible for enduring frosts, rain, and even snow as we enter winter. Without completing home maintenance early, you may find yourself having to repair more serious damage in colder, harsher months, especially when it comes to wooden structures and electricals.
How can I stay on top of my house maintenance?
Most home maintenance tasks only need to be carried out twice a year, usually in spring and fall, however, you can stay on top of home maintenance by completing smaller tasks such as checking smoke detectors and minor repairs more regularly throughout the year to reduce your to-do list in these pivotal seasons.