The Autumn season in Wisconsin is generally a good time to start preparing your home for the inevitable colder climate. This checklist will help you and your home prepare for the harsh Wisconsin winter.
Program Your Thermostat
Fall is the season when you'll stop using your Air Conditioner and start using your furnace. Programming your thermostat to keep your home cooler at night and when you're away is one of the easiest ways to stay comfortable this fall and save on your utility bills.
If programming your thermostat is a challenge, we highly recommend investing in a wi-fi enabled smart thermostat. The energy savings will quickly pay for the initial investment; we wrote about these thermostats in a previous blog: 4 Home Features That Pay For Themselves.
Check for Drafts in Your Home
We build our new homes to be extremely air-tight because keeping the warm air in and the cold air out will save you significantly on your Winter heating bills. If you do happen to find any leaks it's important to caulk exterior holes and properly seal your doors and windows. The easiest way to identify a draft is by holding a steady flame near questionable areas; if the flame flickers, you probably have a draft.
Cold air is not going to be the only threat trying to make its way into your home this fall - sealing all exterior holes will also provide an extra barrier from pests and critters. In addition to caulking all exterior entry points, it might be wise to spray a pesticide near your home's foundation.
Fertilize Your Lawn and Touch Up Your Landscaping
Early fall can be a great time to improve your lawn. If you have bare spots, now is the perfect time to bring in some top soil and grass seed. Even if you have a healthy lawn, fertilizer will help prevent winter damage and put you a step ahead when Spring rolls around.
You have probably worked hard on your landscaping throughout the Summer; Autumn is not the time to get lazy, especially if you are considering selling your home this Winter or Spring. Exterior photos and curb appeal is one of the first things potential home buyers look at so early Fall is a great time to capture your homes beauty - Your home will not photograph nearly as well in the Winter or Spring.
Inspect Your Furnace
Keeping your HVAC system in tip-top shape will help it run efficiently and ensure your air quality is healthy. Remember to replace your furnace filter as needed.
This also includes properly winterizing your AC unit. Some experts suggest covering your AC unit in the winter while others disagree: covering can lock in moisture which can lead to mold or rust. Our AC units are built to withstand the winter elements so we recommend covering the top of your unit in the fall if it is near debris like leaves, twigs, and seeds/nuts.
Inspect Your Home's Exterior
Take a close look at your roof, siding, and any visible parts of your foundation in the fall. Any issues should be addressed right away, because snow and ice will only make things worse.
Also, make sure you have proper grading away from your home. Winter and spring are sure to bring plenty of moisture that you'll want to direct away from your home's foundation. It's much easier to address any negative grading in the fall than it is in the spring and winter.
Put Out Driveway Stakes
Driveway stakes well help you to stay aware of your driveway boundaries all winter long. Once the weather drops below freezing, it will be extremely difficult to get those stakes in the ground; remember to put them out in the fall.
Take Out Your Window Screens
Once the temperature starts to drop its generally a good idea to remove your window screens for the winter. This is also the time to put in your storm windows (if you have them - many newer homes do not).
Turn Off Exterior Faucets
As soon as you're done using the garden hoses, bring them in to storage. All Cypress Homes are built with frost free exterior faucets, so all you have to do is turn them off for the winter. Older homes may require shutting off the water line inside your home.
Clean Your Gutters
If you have trees over or near your roof, you'll want to clean your gutters in the late fall (once the majority of the leaves have fallen from your trees). Also make sure your downspouts are clear and directing all water away from your home. Gutters, downspouts, and exterior sump pump pipes can freeze if they aren't drained properly.
Winterize Summer Equipment and Prep Your Winter Equipment
When you are done with the lawn mower for the year you might as well change the oil, sharpen the blades, and take care of any other regular maintenance. If you do this in the fall, you will certainly thank yourself in the Spring. Also, make sure your snow blower, plow, or shovels are ready for the winter. This includes having salt for your driveway and sidewalk (but don't over salt - it breaks down the concrete seal). Lastly, if you have any cracks in your concrete driveway, you might want to consider patching or repairing them before the snow flies - just imagine how annoying those cracks will be when you have to shovel.
Check Your Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Detectors
Replace batteries if needed and make sure these life saving devices are working properly. Having a maintenance schedule for your detectors is crucial and fall is a great time to double check. Many homes will operate a fireplace in the winter. Also, some exhaust pipes can get blocked with snow. Both of those reasons mean there is an increased likelihood of depending on your detectors.
Want to simplify this fall checklist?
The best way to ensure your home is prepped for Fall is to build a new Cypress Home. We take pride in building homes that look beautiful but also perform beautifully in Wisconsin's harsh climate. This includes minimizing maintenance and optimizing energy efficiency.
Contact us if you have any questions related to fall maintenance or home building.
This post was written by Brock Messner