Falling leaves and cooling temps are a great reminder that it's time to prep your home for the next season. Invest a few hours now to prevent emergency situations come winter. Here's our recommended checklist:
This one seems simple enough, which is perhaps why it's often forgotten. Modern frost-proof hose bibs (aka sillcocks), which are designed to prevent water from sitting and freezing inside the interior pipe, lower your odds of a pipe bursting. To further avoid this problem, however, drain your hose of water, as well, and store it in a protected area to ensure it survives the freeze-thaw cycles of the winter. It is very important to keep hoses disconnected during cold, winter periods.
We recommend having your sprinkler system professionally "blown out," but a quick search on Google will yield directions on how to DIY, if you prefer and have the equipment. It's important to ensure your irrigation system is free of water to avoid pipes bursting from freeze-thaw cycles and a costly repair bill come Spring.
The silver lining to yard work: it's great exercise! It's time to clean up those leaves (use a lawnmower for a back-friendly alternative to raking), pull weeds (this prevents more come Spring), trim dead branches (don't want them falling with the weight of snow), prune annuals (ensure they hibernate and come back next year), and aerate your lawn (call in the pros or rent equipment at the hardware store). We also take this opportunity to have our mower serviced so we don't have to take it in during the Spring rush.
RAIN Gutters and downspouts
Clean and functional gutters and do ensure water can easily drain off and move away from your home, which reduces your chances of roof and foundation leaks. First, use a drop cloth below your gutters to protect your landscaping from falling debris. A leaf blower will assist in moving lose and light debris out of the gutters, but you may also need a scooping tool to remove gunk. Once the gutters are free of visible debris, use your garden hose to flow water through the entire gutter system. Look for any pooling and/or leaks, which may signal a clog. Ensure the downspout extensions (tipouts) are kept in the down position. If spending the afternoon on a ladder, however, isn't your favorite idea or you have a two-story home, we recommend calling in the pros.
Take a thorough look at the exterior surfaces of your home, including siding, roof, stone/brick and concrete. Note any areas that may need attention and address these before winter takes hold and these seemingly-minor issues become emergency repairs.
Now's the time - not after the first blizzard - to get your shovel, snow blower and sand/salt ready.
STORE PATIO FURNITURE
This is a particularly tough one in Colorado, considering we have all experienced days in the middle of winter warm enough to sit outside with a morning coffee. To extend the life of your furniture, however, it's a good idea to stow cushions and furnishings that aren't under a protective cover.
We recommend having your furnace serviced annually; doing so in the fall will reduce your chances of waking up to a freezing-cold home in the middle of winter. At a minimum, continue your routine of inspecting and replacing your furnaces filter on a regular (as your furnace dictates, often once a month) basis.
CARBON MONOXIDE & SMOKE ALARMS
We recommend checking these every month - doing so truly can save a life! If you find your alarms aren't in good working condition, check the batteries and replace or repair them immediately.
DRAFTS & INSULATION
Ensure your home is well-insulated this time of year to save on unnecessary heating costs through the winter. Check all windows and doors for drafts (here's how) and replacing weather stripping where needed (pro tip: take your current strip to the hardware store so you know what size/length to purchase). It's also a good idea to confirm the insulation in and around your home is in good shape. If it has gaps or is missing in areas, have it replenished.