Home maintenance: 10 things to do at home this fall

By Jenny Sites, Editor of Macaroni KID Fredericksburg – Spotsylvania – Stafford, Va.

November 14, 2022

While some of us (me!) deny the cold months ahead, the fact is we need to be prepared before the first storm arrives. Even if you live where the winters are mild, it’s always a good idea to take care of these maintenance tasks and be prepared for unexpected cooler temperatures.

Here are 10 things you can do to prepare your home for winter:

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1. Mow your lawn one last time

Keeping the blades of grass about 2.5 to 3 inches apart keeps it healthy through the winter.

2. Check your gutters

You want to make sure your gutters are free of debris to prevent them from overflowing during heavy rains or water from getting trapped and freezing.

3. Clear the yard

Look around your yard for tree branches hanging over the house, dead trees or trees with dead branches, and any other hazards. Winds and heavy snow can weaken and break these trees and branches. Removing them ahead of time saves you from possible damage or injury later.

4. Cover the condenser housing of your air conditioner

Covering the AC condenser box prevents ice and snow from entering inside and prolongs the life of the unit.

5. Cover your outdoor faucets

Be sure to remove the hose, drain it, and store it for the winter. Cover your faucet with a lid to prevent it from freezing. You can get them from your local hardware store. They usually come in the form of a fabric “sock” that slips over and a string closes it, or in the form of a plastic or polystyrene cover that simply slips on. The sock is a bit more expensive but is less likely to fall off or fly off the tap.

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6. Check your smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors

Be sure to change the batteries AND test the detectors. Most detectors have an expiration date on them. According to the US Fire Administration, smoke detectors are generally good for about 8 to 10 years. However, combination smoke and carbon monoxide detectors are only good for about 5-6 years.

This is also a good time to review your fire escape plan with your family.

7. Check your thermostat

If you don’t already have a programmable or smart thermostat, you should find out. They can save you money by automatically adjusting your home’s temperature and using less gas or electricity.

If you plan to be away from your home for an extended period of time, make sure the thermostat is set to at least 65 degrees to prevent the pipes from freezing.

8. Have your chimney checked

If you plan on using your fireplace this winter, you want to make sure you have your chimney professionally checked before you have to use it. A professional will check the chimney cap and damper for buildup and cracks and make sure everything is working properly.

Also, if you have a wood-burning fireplace, now is a good time to restock your firewood.

9. Check Your Sump Pump If You Have One

Heavy storms and melting snow can make your sump pump work really hard. Make sure it’s in good working order and have a backup handy in case it stops working.

It’s also a good idea to have a backup battery hooked up to your sump pump in case the power goes out. You can purchase a backup battery from your local hardware store and install it yourself.

10. Create or update your emergency kit

Although we all hope we don’t need one, it’s never a bad idea to prepare an emergency kit. Very basic emergency kits should include bottled water, blankets, flashlights with extra batteries, a battery operated radio and snacks.

A more complete kit may include additional items like medicine, shelf stable food (energy bars, crackers, canned food, dry rice and beans), extra change of clothes and/or coats, battery or power source hand-cranked charging station for your phone and a generator. If you tend to get a lot of snow, you might also want to have an extra shovel handy.

Jenny Sites is the publisher of Macaroni KID Fredericksburg – Spotsylvania – Stafford, Va.

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