toddler in orange top and green winder hat standing in backyard with fall leaves

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Your fall maintenance checklist

As the warm summer days of bare feet and single layer clothing draw to a close, it’s hard not to feel a certain amount of glee about the burst of colour upon us and the chance to cozy up indoors again. In preparation for the cooler days ahead, there are a few things you can do to get your home prepped for sweater weather – from sealing windows to packing away your summer clothes. Take a look at these great tips.

Let's start inside

bed with rustic wood headboard and cozy chunky knit blanket and pillows

Since you’ll be spending a lot more time indoors over the next few months, it makes sense to start your fall readiness here as soon as the temperature starts to drop. Doing so now will save you money down the road in heating bills and repair costs. Check out this list of to-do’s:

1. Check for drafts. Lifehack suggests you feel around windows and doors for any noticeable air coming through and try the “candle” trick – if a lighted flame flickers in these spots you can bet you have a draft. Caulking and/or weather stripping around windows and doors will seal them and prevent cold air from coming in, and heavier, insulated curtains for the winter months may also help keep this at bay. Global News also suggests caulking around dryer vents, bathroom exhaust fans and cables and pipes that run outside. 

2. Change your furnace filter. For homeowners, this is a good time to change your filter and stock up on extras so you can change them every few months to keep air fresh. You might also consider having an HVAC professional take a look at your furnace. They’ll test for leaks, check efficiency and even change the filter if you’re not sure how. 

3. Winterize air conditioning. If you have central air, you’ll want to cover the unit to protect it from fall debris and the upcoming snow. Window units should be removed completely or covered to prevent air leaks. 

4. Consider a programmable thermostat. This will allow you to set your thermostat to lower the temperature automatically at night and when you’re not home – ultimately saving you money.

5. Change batteries and test detectors. This is also the time to replace batteries in all smoke detectors and carbon monoxide devices and test each one to make sure they’re working. With furnaces and fireplaces running around the clock, this is a must-do.

6. Clean humidifiers. Replace old filters and clean inside the compartment with water and vinegar. 

7. Make room for fall and winter jackets. When you live in an apartment, space is at a premium. Why not add hooks behind your entryway door for extra coats and scarves, and putting a two-tier shoe rack like this one in your closet or beside your door to accommodate boots.

8. Rotate your wardrobe. This is a good time to go through your fall and winter clothes and donate pieces you no longer wear (or are no longer “your style”). You may also want to dry clean sweaters that have been in storage.

9. Swap bedding. Light comforters can now be replaced with cozier duvets and flannel sheets. Knit blankets can also find a spot on your couch or at the end of beds. Bring it!

10. Clean out your pantry. Look for any expired items and stock up on essentials you’ll need to make your fall recipes. Think stews, soups and casseroles. Oh my! For more kitchen cleaning tips, check out this post.

If you’re feeling crafty and love all things Autumn, this post by Zumper will totally be your jam. They have lots of DIY hacks to help you decorate for the season and turn your home into a pumpkin-spiced haven. 

Let's head outside

person's hands wearing pink flowered gardening gloves planting bulbs

Whether you live in a house or an apartment, the outside of your home will need a little TLC, too. Here are a few things you can do to get ready for the inevitable white stuff:

1. Winterize your water pipes. If you live in a house, your exterior hose bibs and faucets need to be properly drained each year before the winter season. Doing this before frost occurs will help prevent burst hose pipes or damage to exterior faucets (which typically aren’t covered by new home warranties, so this is an important step in fall maintenance!). If you live in a home by Minto Communities, your MasterCare Warranty Team can help explain how to do this.

2. Put away patio and deck furniture. It’s best if you can store seasonal furniture inside or in a shed, but if you’re limited for space, bring cushions inside and protect furniture with covers like these ones from Canadian Tire.  

3. Rake and remove leaves. Make a day of it and rake up all the leaves in your yard (after you’ve jumped in them a few times, of course!) and them into yard waste bags for pick up. Check with your local city or town for pick up schedules. 

4. Clean out eavestroughs. Remove leaves and debris from gutters and check for leaks. This is something you might want to hire a service to do. 

5. Remove exterior screens. Since windows won’t likely be opened during the winter, remove screens and wash them before storing to avoid tears from snow and ice. 

6. Shut off faucets and store hoses. Most homes have an exterior water supply to attach a garden hose, which will need draining and removal from the spigot before winter to ensure they don’t freeze and crack. 

7. Trim landscaping. This is the time to cut back trees, bushes and flowers as recommended by your climate zone. You may also want to cover delicate shrubs with burlap to prevent winter burn. 

8. Plant spring bulbs. It may seem strange to plant bulbs just as the ground is about to go into a deep freeze, but this is the ideal time. The tulips and daffodils that rear their pretty heads in spring will be worth the extra effort. 

9. Stock up on firewood. If you’re lucky enough to have a wood burning fireplace (or any fireplace at all), you’ll want to get a season’s worth now and keep it covered so it stays dry. You may also want to have your chimney swept.

10. Fertilize your lawn. Applying a natural fall fertilizer will help prevent winter damage. Your local garden centre will be able to tell you which one to apply. For more information on when to apply fertilizer, check out this post by Backyard Boss

11. Put bikes and sports equipment away. If you have a shed or storage unit, make space for your outdoor activity equipment, like bikes, scooters and nets. 

Getting your home ready for chilly weather now will save money in the long run on expensive repairs and wasted energy costs. 

Let's go back in (it's chilly out there!)

two children eating soup at a wooden table

Now that you’ve checked off your fall maintenance to-do list, there’s nothing better than having a freezer full of favourites to pull from on a cold night. Set aside a weekend or two and gather like-minded friends for a fun day of cooking and catching up. Here are some fall recipes that are sure to be a hit (some are better suited to the freezer than others):

Chicken stew 

Slow cooker turkey chili

Pressure cooker Guinness beef stew

Mac and cheese

Chorizo and white bean stew 

Minestrone soup with pasta, beans and vegetables (V)

Balsamic glazed salmon

Lemon chicken and rice soup

Butternut squash risotto (V)

Vegan cauliflower and butternut Thai curry  (V)

Apple crisp and other fall baking

Your complete fall maintenance checklist

man sitting on bed holding cup of coffee looking at laptop

Check for drafts and caulk or weatherstrip doors and windows

Change furnace filter

Cover or put away air conditioning unit

Switch to a programmable thermostat

Change batteries and test smoke and Co2 detectors

Clean humidifiers with water and vinegar

Add hooks to make room for winter coats and scarves 

Rotate your wardrobe

Swap bedding for warmer duvets and blankets

Clean out pantry and discard expired items

Put away or cover patio and deck furniture

Rake and remove leaves

Clean out eavestroughs

Remove and wash exterior screens

 Winterize your water pipes

Shut off and drain outdoor faucets, put away hose

Trim landscaping (according to climate zone)

Plant spring bulbs

Stock up on firewood

Fertilize lawn

Put bikes and outdoor sports equipment away

Make freezer food

There. You’re all set for the cooler months ahead – and before you know it we’ll be hitting the slopes, grabbing our toboggans and making the most of the crisp, white snow.