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When fall arrives you know winter is not that far off. Be prepared to say goodbye to 70 degree days and hello to 30 degree days. Your mood isn’t the only thing that winter affects, however. Your house is also going through a changing period and needs to be updated before it’s too late.

By being proactive before winter weather hits you’ll lower your electric bill, prolong the life of your home, and keep your family safe if any unforeseen storms hit. Follow this fall and winter checklist to prepare your house and your family for those grueling months.


Inside The Home

Reverse Your Ceiling Fans

If your fans have an option to rotate the other way, use it to run the fan’s blades in a clockwise direction when you start using heat. Since heat rises, the fan will product an updraft and push down into the room heated air from the ceiling. This could also save you some money and allow you to turn the thermostat down a degree or two.

Seal Cracks Around Doors and Windows

Use caulk (a waterproof filler and sealant, used in building work and repairs) around your home and to fill in gaps between your doors and windows. Seal any cracks between trim and siding, around window and door frames, and where pipes and wires enter your home. This is an important step as it will prevent moisture from getting inside the walls! How to check if you have a leak? You can either close a door or window on a strip of paper, and if the paper slides easily then your weatherstripping isn’t doing a good job - or take a candle and see if the flame flickers at any spot along the doorframe (just be careful around the curtains!).

Check Your Fireplace, Chimney, and Furnace

Your fireplace has been sitting dormant for the past 7-8 months so before firing it up call an inspector to  check that it’s clean and that everything is in good repair. This will prevent chimney fires and carbon monoxide from creeping into your house. The same goes for your furnace and any other heating tools in your home! Check your furnace filter and make an appointment to get your heating system checked and tuned.

Protect Entryway Flooring

The entranceway to your home is going to take a beating with all the damp feet coming through the next few months. Protect this section of flooring by using floor mats inside AND outside of your home. Tell the little ones (and big ones, let’s be honest) to stamp their feet before and after, and leave all shoes by the door. Provide a boot scraper or brush outside and a waterproof tray inside for placing wet shoes and boots.

Check Your Smoke and CO Detectors

It’s a perfect time to remember to change the batteries in your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors, since it’s probably been awhile. After you change the batteries vacuum them with a soft brush attachment and test them out to make sure they’re working correctly.

General Cleanup

Get rid of odds and ends around your house that are taking up space! Think of this as an excuse to purge your home and get rid of things you don't need. Don't forget to go through cleaning supplies and chemicals and get rid of any that are old as well as put them in clearly labeled containers. Keep a clear space around anything that produces heat and could be flammable.


Outside the Home

Store Hoses and Turn off Outdoor Water

By leaving excess water in your pipes and hoses during freezing temperature the water will freeze, expand, and crack your faucet or pipes. Turn off any shutoff valves on water supply lines that lead to exterior faucets. While you’re at it drain hoses and store in a shed or garage.

Stow Your Mower

This is a big one. If your mower sits with gas in the tank for months - the gas will start to deteriorate causing irreparable damage to internal engine parts. John Deere offers these preventative steps: Add fuel stabilizer to keep your fuel fresh longer, then fill the gas tank to the top with more stabilized fuel - and run the engine briefly to allow it to circulate. If not, use up the fuel in your mower before winter.

Inspect Your Roof

You can inspect your roof by staying on the ground and using binoculars. Be sure to look for warning signs such as damaged, loose, or missing shingles that may leak when snow melts. If you see masses of mold or lichen, this could mean that your roof is decaying underneath and needs to be looked at by a professional.

If you have a flat roof, as many do in the southwest, rake or blow off leaves and pine needles which can hold moisture. (Be sure not to sweep, this can expose asphalt to sunlight!)

Clean your gutters

This one is pretty self-explanatory. With each changing season you should be cleaning out your gutters for the new batch of storms that could come through. If your gutters are full of leaves and junk, it could cause water to back up against the house and damage roofing, siding, and wood trim. Clogged gutters can cause ice dams and can lead to expensive repairs.

Prune your plants

Give your plants a fighting chance with the dropping temps! Now that the summer growth cycle is over, trim your trees and plants so they are at least 3 feet away from your house. This will stop leaking and dripping onto your house as well as any accidental damage if tree limbs freeze and fall off.


Follow this checklist for an easy transition into the colder months, and to keep your family and home safe.

Sources: House LogicBetter Homes & GardensKiplingerHouzz