With the leaves starting to change, winter will be here before we know it! You can start preparing your home now. Follow this checklist to get ahead on fall maintenance so you can enjoy a cozy, hassle-free winter!
Get Your Boat, Boat Lift, & Pier Out of the Water
Get your boat out of the water, prepare for storage, and cover. Also, get your boat lift and pier out of the water and properly stored. Most lake home owners coordinate with The Boat House Whitewater or the Lakeshore Pier Service. You can contact them to lift your boat lift and pier out of the water to store on your property. Contact them early to schedule your services.
Store Away Recreational Equipment.
Store away tubes, kayaks, paddleboards, and other recreational equipment. Be mindful of how and where you store them. Put tubes into a plastic tub for protection against damage and store away.
Clean Up Your Boat House
When everything is outside, it is a great to clean and get organized. Clean up your boat house, get organized, and then store away your items.
Inspect Lakefront for Damage
Walk along your lakefront and inspect your pier, deck, stairs, retaining walls, etc. for damage. It will be easier to repair any cracks in fall before the snow falls and the ground freezes. Look for any missing bolts, protruding needs, or signs of rot. Make sure to check your railings. You don’t want to slip on ice, grab the hand railing, & have it fall off!
Lawn & Garden Maintenance
Store Away or Cover Patio Furniture.
Cover and/or store away your patio furniture. If possible, try to store it away to protect it from the winter elements.
Get Your Snowblower, Shovels, and Salt Ready.
Test your snowblower to make sure it runs as expected. Get your shovels and salt ready. Better yet, if you have a service provider, make sure to contact them and get your regular services in place. Also, get your driveway ready for snow blowing and/or snowplowing by removing any debris or obstructions and marking your driveway with driveway markers.
Clean Up Your Garage
Clean up your garage, sweep, and get organized. Make sure to bring in any liquids, sprays, and chemicals that could freeze. Also, bring in your paint and caulk to prevent it from freezing.
Prepare Your Lawn Equipment
Run all gas-powered lawn equipment until the fuel is gone. Alternatively, you can add fuel stabilizer to prevent the gasoline from degrading over the winter months.
Clean & Store Your Gas Grill
If you don’t plan on grilling during the winter, clean and store away your grill. At a minimum, it is a great time to clean your grill, de-grease, and remove any food scraps.
If you are going to use your grill during the winter, make sure to cover it or store inside your garage or another outbuilding. If you are going to winterize your grill, you want to shut of the gas, coat the grill grates with cooking oil, wrap the burners in plastic bags, polish the exterior, cover your grill, and store it away.
Regardless of where you store your grill, you want to store the tank in a well-ventilated space in the upright position away from vents.
Prepare the Yard
Rake and remove all leaves and debris. It will make spring cleanup so much easier! Plus, when you remove the debris, you take away shelter where pests could hunker down for winter. Removing debris and keeping your grass short can help reduce bugs next year. Cut your grass short, at 1-1/2 to 2 inches.
Empty All Flowerpots and Planters.
Empty all your flowerpots and planters before winter. Once freezing temperatures arrive, the moisture in the soil will expand and result in cracked pots. Terracotta, clay, and ceramic pots should be stored indoors, while plastic pots will be fine outside.
Prepare Your Garden
Prune your plants and trees. Cutback the shrubs/perennials as directed. Insulate sensitive plants, like roses. Try to keep all branches at least 3 feet from your house to minimize moisture on your roof and siding. Remove leaves and debris from your garden to make spring cleanup easier and reduce bugs.
Prevent Pipes from Freezing
Turn off shutoff valves for exterior faucets. Disconnect and drain your garden hoses then store them away. You don’t want water in the pipes when it starts to freeze. If the water freezes in your pipes, it will expand and potentially crack your pipes.
Drain your irrigation system and/or sprinkler system. Even if your system is buried, it can still freeze. Make sure to turn off the water at the main valve, turn off any automatic settings, open the drain valves, and remove any above-ground sprinkler heads. If you don’t want to do this yourself, you can hire a professional to blow out the system.
Touch Up Exterior Paint.
Once the shrubs are pruned and plants are cut back, it will be easier to spot paint touch areas. Make sure you paint at appropriate temperatures as directed by the manufacturer.
Fill Your Bird Feeders
Inspect your bird feeders and fill them up! If you feed birds regularly, you should continue to do so through winter.
Clean Your Gutters
Remove all leaves and debris from your gutters. Make sure your gutters are structurally sound and tight. Connect, clean, and point your downspouts away from the foundation, driveway, and walkways. Clogged gutters can lead to ice dams.
Check Your Roof
Walk around and inspect your roof for any damage or loose shingles. It will be much easier to take care of any repairs before the snow falls! Also, trim tree branches away from roofs.
Prepare Your Windows & Doors
Replace window screens with storm windows. Add weatherstripping to minimize drafts. Caulk wood trim around exterior windows and doors. Also, consider weatherstripping your garage door. You want to make sure the seal between your garage door and ground is tight to minimize drafts and keep out pests.
Keep Pests Out
Close all exterior vents. Inspect your home, garage, and all outbuildings for any holes, cracks or openings. Make sure to specifically look for cracks between the trim and siding as well as near the window or door frames. If you notice any cracks, get some exterior caulk to seal the cracks. If you notice any openings where pests can sneak in, seal them up with steel wool or call a professional.
Protect Lights & Outlets
Protect exterior outlets with foam-sealing gaskets. Take down and store away cute patio lights.
Protect Your Air Conditioner
Place a piece of plywood over the top of your air conditioner. Don’t fully enclose it.
Repair and Seal Cracks
Repair and seal small cracks before winter. The freezing temperature will cause water to expand and led to larger cracks that are more expensive to repair.
Prepare Window Well Covers
Inspect, clean, and secure all window well covers. It is better to be safe than sorry! When leaves fall, they can create a barrier. If water continues to accumulate in the window well, the pressure adds up and your basement window could break leading to a flooded basement!
Indoor Fall Maintenance
Test Your Heating System
Test your heating system the first chance you get or schedule an annual inspection with your service provider to get your system checked and tuned up for winter. They will book up quickly! It is better to plan ahead and play it safe. Replace filters as needed. If you replace the furnace filters every few months, it will help your heating system run more efficiently.
Test your smoke & carbon monoxide detectors. Replace batteries as needed. Check your fire extinguisher and replace as needed.
Check all your vents and make sure they are closed (i.e., dryer and crawl space).
Check Water Heater
Check your water heater for leaks, rust, or other issues.
Prepare the Fireplace
Inspect your fireplace, make sure the flu opens and closes, and look for any obstructions in the chimney. Alternatively, schedule a chimney inspection and have the chimney swept professionally.
Check your insulation. Make sure there is plenty in the attic, walls, & crawlspaces. This is especially important for lakefront properties that will experience more wind.
Switch Your Fan Rotation
Set your fans to rotate clockwise for energy efficiency. You want to create an upward draft to redistribute warm air from the ceiling to below.
Clean Your Carpets
Clean your carpets. You’ll be spending the next few months indoors so clean your carpets, remove dust and debris, and enjoy a cleaner living environment.
Turn On Your Humidifier
Dry winter air can be tough on your skin and make wood more prone to cracking. Turn on your humidifier and keep it running all winter long.