Yes I said “y’all,” and yes I’m from the South, and yes, I catch a lot of flack from friends, my husband’s family, coworkers, and even clients about some of the Southern turns of phrase that slip out every now and then. For many phrases, I have no idea that what I’ve just said is a “southern thang” until someone looks at me like I have three heads.
Where I grew up in Athens, Georgia (think REM, B-52’s, Georgia Bulldogs), it’s still pretty hot and humid in the fall. Lots of years, we could wear shorts and t-shirts to the biggest football game of the season- the Georgia vs Georgia Tech game Thanksgiving weekend. I bucked family tradition and went to Tech, while my family all went to UGA, so we were definitely a house divided.
But fall here in Southeastern Pennsylvania looks different- our air is already crisp most days and it actually feels like fall. We go apple picking and pumpkin picking and wear flannel shirts and everyone seems to be constantly reciting the EAGLES chant. And with those cooler nights and crunchy leaves and pumpkin spiced everything, there are some things that you should be taking care of in and around your home to ensure that your family is safe and comfortable all winter long.
If you keep up with my blog, you might notice that a few of these were also in my Baby It’s Cold Outside post. That’s not because I couldn’t think of anything else to tell you to do – it’s because these are actually crucial for maintaining your home. Failing to keep up with these will come around and bite you later, either with extremely costly repairs, a reduction in the value of your home, or both.
Clean that Chimney and Chop that Wood
I don’t know about you, but we burn lots of fires in our house. Nothing is more cozy than a fire in the fireplace. To get ready for the cold winter months, it’s a good idea to go ahead and stockpile dry firewood for the winter. And that conventional wisdom that you shouldn’t burn pine or other softwoods in your fireplace? Not true! As long as your wood is dry and seasoned, pine won’t cause creosote to build up more quickly than burning any other wood. It’s green or unseasoned wood that will speed the buildup of creosote.
And you should technically have your chimney inspected and cleaned at least once a year even if you don’t have fires very often. You’ll want to stay on top of any chimney disrepair to prevent a more serious problem later on.
Get your Mind, and those Leaves, out of the Gutter
The falling leaves are delightful this time of year, but they can wreak havoc on your gutters. Make sure to keep on top of clearing them out periodically to ensure that rain (and eventually melting snow!!!) is able to go along its merry way. If you’re brave, and not scared of heights, climb on up there yourself and tend to it. For me, I’ll leave gutters to the pros.
Treat your Heater Right
Go ahead and have your heater serviced now, before it breaks when it’s 3 degrees outside, which has actually happened in our house- at least we had already stockpiled wood! Whether you have a gas, electric, oil, or propane heater, it should be checked and cleaned yearly. And if you wait until the winter months, plan on waiting a long time for an appointment since it’s heating companies’ busiest time. You definitely want your heater in tip top shape going into the winter.
Give your House a Bath
If you have vinyl siding, you probably already love how maintenance free it is. However, it still needs a little love from time to time. A simple solution of 70% water and 30% vinegar is a good way to clean your siding. Just use a soft brush with an extender, and work your way from bottom to top, making sure to rinse as you go. This should be done in the late summer/early fall, and then again in the spring. For any dirt/mildew/stains that need something a bit stronger than vinegar, be sure to follow the manufacturer’s instructions so that you don’t inadvertently damage your siding.
Add a POP of Color
It may surprise you, but fall is a great time for planting. Some bushes and evergreens do very well planted in the fall thanks to the cooler temperatures and reliable rain. But you can also add some fall color to your yard by planting ornamental kale, pansies (which should come back the following year), and everyone’s favorite, mums. And you can get a jump start on the spring by planting peonies and spring blooming bulbs like hyacinth, daffodils, crocus, and tulips. Then, if you put your house on the market in the spring, it’ll already have a head start on some great curb appeal!
The best thing you can do to maintain the value of your home is to stay on top of repairs and take care of problems before they happen. Realtors can always tell when a home hasn’t been well-maintained, even if it has a brand new kitchen and has been freshly painted before hitting the market. Plus, small problems tend to become big problems if left to their own devices.
Leave me a comment below if there are any other fall maintenance projects you do around your house!