10 Essential Fall Tasks

Plan ahead to save time and energy

If your time is at a premium and you need to prioritize what needs to be done around the house before winter sets in, the following list of essential tasks might help. Once you have these covered, read our comprehensive Fall Checklist for additional chores to securely batten down the hatches for the darkest part of the year.

  1. If you have a fireplace or woodstove, lay in a supply of wood as early as you can. Burn dry, dry wood. Keep fires small and hot to reduce buildup in chimneys.

    Store wood where it is dry but has good air flow. A covered shed is ideal, but a loose tarp can work just as well. Make sure it’s stacked off the ground to keep the bottom course clean and dry. Wet wood attracts insects. Don’t stack your wood right next to the house; leave at least a gap of a couple inches to avoid creating an insect highway to your home’s interior.
  2. Make sure that any backup heating source—such as a gas fireplace, woodstove, or pellet stove—is in good working order. For wood burning fireplaces and woodstoves, have your chimney cleaned regularly. The more you burn, the more often you should have your chimney cleaned.

    If you burn one-half to a full cord of wood a year, every two years for cleaning is probably okay if your wood has had at least a year to season. The greener the wood, the faster creosote builds up. Creosote can cause a chimney fire so it's not something you want to let go. Read more on chimney maintenance.
  3. Clean your gutters. It’s one of those chores that no one likes but must be done. In the fall, you may find it necessary to clean a couple times depending on what types of trees you have near the house.
  4. Make sure downspouts are free flowing and splash blocks direct water well away from the foundation.
  5. Check the roof and make any small roof repairs now. This is another important task. At the same time check ridge vents and make sure they are clear of any obstructions.
  6. Trees, bushes, and other foundation plantings need to be trimmed back away from the house. Any dead or diseased branches on trees need to be removed. This prevents bugs from taking up residence in your home, and reduces damage to siding, roofs, and gutters from whipping branches. In other words, nothing should be touching your house.
  7. Have your heating system serviced if you haven’t done it in a while. There is nothing worse than having the heat go off when it’s 25 degrees outside. And it always seems to happen to too many other people at the same time, so you have to wait and shiver until the heating guy shows up.
  8. Check your smoke alarm and make sure it’s functioning. If you have a carbon-monoxide detector, check it at the same time.
  9. Weatherize your home. Caulk joints where materials meet. The US Department of Energy says if you can pull a piece of paper out of a closed door without tearing you're losing energy, so check and replace weather stripping on all doors and windows. Install foam inserts in electrical receptacles on exterior walls.
  10. Set up your 72-hour stock of emergency provisions. Allocate a space; keep everything you’ll need in case the power goes off there. The Red Cross has a comprehensive list of recommended items.

There are many more tasks to do and this list of essentials may vary depending on your home and its requirements. Our monthly checklists and a comprehensive Fall Checklist should help you prioritize your seasonal chores.


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