Autumn in the Poconos can be a stunningly beautiful season (and here's a guide to some of the great things to do in the area in the fall). But fall is also a harbinger of the weather changes to come when winter comes calling. The good news is that there are several things you can do to prepare your home during the fall months so that you don't have to freeze your fingers and toes later. Here are some tips to help you prepare your Poconos home—inside and out—for fall.
- Get Your Furnace Ready: The worst time to find out your furnace isn't working properly is on a cold winter night! Not only is it incredibly uncomfortable, but you may have trouble getting the furnace served right after the first cold snap. Have your furnace professionally cleaned and serviced early in the fall so you don't have to worry about it.
- Check Your Fireplace and Chimney: Who doesn't enjoy a nice, warm fire on a cold fall or winter evening? Having your fireplace and chimney inspected will ensure that you'll be able to do that safely throughout the cold months.
- Consider a Programmable Thermostat: In addition to heating your home more efficiently while you're at home, a programmable thermostat is a great addition if you only use your home periodically in the winter. You can set the thermostat lower (but still well above freezing danger for your pipes). Plus, if you're headed out to your home for some winter skiing, you can turn the heat up from your phone so that things will be nice and toasty when you arrive.
- Think About Adding More Natural Light: Fall can be a great time to replace older (smaller) windows that let in more natural light for those darker fall and winter days. Not only do new windows tend to be larger (improving light and views), but they're also more energy-efficient than older windows.
- Drain Your Irrigation System/Hoses: Broken sprinkler systems and pipes can be a nightmare. If you have an irrigation system for your lawn or garden, make sure it's drained before the first hard freeze. Disconnect your garden hose as well to avoid bursting pipes in your house. You may still want to hand-water on occasion if things get dry. Keep an eye on the weather forecast and always disconnect your hoses after fall watering.
- Get Your Gutters Clean: Those lovely leaves you like to look at can clog up your gutters after they fall. Unfortunately, clogged gutters can lead to ice dams that can damage your roof or your siding. Take a few hours after the last leaves have fallen to clear your gutters. If you don't like being up on a ladder, hire someone to do it for you.
- Inspect and Repair Asphalt and Concrete: Winter can be particularly tough on asphalt or concrete areas such as your driveway or sidewalks. When snow and ice get into small cracks, those cracks can expand and become significant problems later. Use the moderate temperatures of autumn to patch up areas that can erode.
- Prepare Outdoor Furniture for the Winter: Properly storing your deck or patio furniture can ensure that it will last longer. Clean it off and then cover it with a tarp or some plastic to protect it (unless you have a storage shed or other space for it). Don't leave seat cushions outside. Mice and squirrels love to use the padding to make their nests more comfortable.
- Remember That You're Not the Only One Preparing for Fall: Mice, voles, raccoons, and other vermin that are looking for a warm place to reside over the winter. Keep leaves and branches away from your home that could induce animals to burrow. If you have a woodpile for your fireplace, make sure it's not stacked against your house. Mice often nest in woodpiles while the weather is cool—and then make their way into your home as it gets cold.
Of course, home maintenance isn't just a once-a-year thing. Here's a helpful article that can help you protect the investment you've made in your home throughout the year.