Those of us old enough to remember the Halloween Blizzard of 1991 know that while our Minnesota fall season is beautiful, winter can show up unexpectedly at any time.
There are steps you should be taking to get your home ready for winter, and here is a checklist to get you started on your MN Fall Home Maintenance.
- Rake Leaves and Care for lawn, trees and shrubs. Grass roots are growing deeper to prepare for winter. Fertilize your lawn and reseed as necessary. Fall is the time many trees become dormant, this may be the best time to trim branches depending on the type of tree. Check out this article for more information on pruning and best timing.
- Cut back plants and clean out gardens. If you have perennials around your house, cut them down to right above the ground. Sensitive plants may need to be covered. Dead plants from the vegetable garden and annuals can be removed and composted. This is also the time to plant spring bulbs.
- Clean Gutters and Check Downspouts. This is important all year round, but as leaves fall off the trees, they are landing in the gutters which can cause them to clog, causing damage or even ice dams. Make sure the downspouts are taking the water far away from the house and foundation.
- Windows and doors. If you have storm windows and storm doors, this is the time to replace the screens with the glass storms. Go around the house and look for any damage and repair as necessary. Some homeowners choose to further insulate their windows using caulking or window film. Lock your windows to seal them and restrict cold air flow. If you have window screens with holes, take them to your local hardware store for repair. Here is more information on weatherproofing windows.
- Outside spigots and irrigation systems. See the below video on how to turn off your outside water and get the water out of the pipes to prevent freezing. Irrigation or Sprinkler systems also need to be winterized. Many homeowners hire a company to “blow out” their sprinkler system in the fall. Also, it is important for you to know how to turn off the water to your house in case a pipe freezes and bursts. If you don’t know, this is the time to find out how.
Winterizing your outdoor spigots:
- Seal Gaps around exterior of house. – Mice and other “critters” are starting to get cold and hungry and your house is warm! Cold air can also get in to through gaps and cracks. Walk around your house and look for any “gaps”. Seal with spray foam or caulking. More info on stopping cold air leaks.
- Heating Systems – It is a good idea to have your furnace or boiler cleaned and serviced by a licensed professional once a year, fall is a good time to make sure there are no issues going into winter. Both gas and wood burning fireplaces can be cleaned and checked by a professional as well.
- Ceiling Fans – Fans should run clockwise in the colder months, circulating warm air up against the ceiling and back down the walls without a cool breeze under the fan.
- Test your carbon monoxide detectors and smoke alarms and change the batteries.
- Purchase Your Winter Supplies – make sure your shovels are in good condition and your snowblower is in working order. Take it in for a tune up if necessary. Even if you live in an association that takes care of snow removal, owning a shovel is a good idea as often times they will not remove snow unless it is 2-3 or more inches deep. You may also choose to have ice melt or sand on hand so that your sidewalks and driveway is not slippery. Have these supplies on hand before you need them.