By Bob Vila
Summer’s gone and autumn’s knocking at the door. The month of October brings colorful leaves, cool breezes and Halloween trick-or-treaters. It’s also the perfect time to finish outdoor maintenance projects, brush up on your fire safety knowledge and winterize your lawn before the cold temperatures really set in.
Seal and insulate
While temperatures drop outside, you can still stay warm and keep your energy bills low withproper insulation. Attics are one of the biggest culprits when it comes to winter energy loss, so prep yours for winter by installing loose fill or batt insulation.
Redo the mudroom
October means it’s time to pull out the boots and jackets — but you better have a place to storeyour wet and muddy outdoor apparel. If you have a mudroom, update it with a fresh coat of paint or an added storage bench. If you don’t have one, place a boot rack in the entryway and clean out the hall closet to make room for extra coats.
Get the fireplace ready
Don’t wait until it’s so cold you’re ready to start up the fire: You’ll want to prepare your fireplaceearly for regular use. Check your chimney for chips or cracks, and make any necessary repairs. Inspect the door gaskets for a tight seal, then clean soot buildup or call in a professional chimney sweeper.
Winterize the lawn
If you tend to your lawn now before it goes dormant for the winter, it will grow back better than ever in spring. Spread a thin layer of fertilizer — too much will burn the grass — and fill in thin patches with “cool weather” grass seed. Also be sure to aerate your lawn to prevent thatch buildup and keep air, moisture and nutrients flowing to your lawn’s roots.
Reverse your fans
You’ve probably heard heat rises. That’s why it’s a good idea to change the direction of your ceiling fan so that it turns clockwise, thereby pushing hot air down and helping it circulate throughout the room. This is simple to do with newer models of ceiling fans, which usually have a switch to reverse the blade direction.
Clean your carpets
Carpeting can harbor a lot of dust, dirt and even mold. As you seal up your house for winter, make sure you’re retreating to a clean environment. Give your carpets and rugs a deep steam cleaning, or hire a professional to do so. If your carpets are beyond repair, you might want to replace them — or consider hardwood or vinyl floors.
Check for peeling paint
Inspect your home exterior for damage to the siding, foundation and paint. Correct peeling paintbefore the cold and ice sets in. If you don’t, those bare patches could be susceptible to water damage and cost you lots more in repairs down the line.
Install smoke detectors
October is Fire Prevention Month, so take time to educate yourself and your family about cold-weather fire risks. Install smoke detectors on each floor of your house, and test them monthly. Additionally, keep a few fire extinguishers throughout the house, especially in the kitchen and near the fireplace.
Clean up fall leaves
There’s more than one way to clean up fall leaves: Mulch them with your mower, use a lawn vacuum or invest in ergonomic rakes or leaf scoops. As long as your trees are healthy, their fall leaves are great food for your compost pile. You can even add oak leaves in moderation, despite their acidic reputation.
Pick out a pumpkin
With Halloween on the horizon, pumpkins are everywhere — maybe even in your backyard garden. Whether you paint them, carve them or leave them bare, they’ll really welcome fall when placed on your doorstep. Power tool fans can get be part of the fun with a Dremel or other pumpkin carving tool.