Sitting squarely between the sweltering days of summer and our famous Chicagoland winters, fall is an opportunity to really get to work on your home, both inside and out. This transitional season is the perfect time to repair any damage that may have resulted from the summer’s hot weather and severe storms — while also getting your property ready for everything that winter might send our way.
Curious what repairs, renovations, and maintenance projects you should focus on this season? Here are 15 helpful home projects to tackle this fall:
1.) Clean Your Gutters and Spouts
Falling leaves and other debris can clog up your gutters — causing blockages and damage during some of the wettest months of the year. Early in the fall, check your gutters to make sure that they’re flowing properly. Get rid of any blockages, and consider investing in gutter-covers or shields to help prevent further buildup. Make sure that your downspouts are attached properly, and make sure that all water is draining away from your home’s foundation. For a fun green project, look into installing a rain barrel. This easy-to-install DIY system allows you to collect rainwater, preventing excess runoff and giving you a reliable supply to use for your lawn and garden.
2.) Clean Off Your Patio or Deck
As the weather cools down, it’s time to say “goodbye” to your outdoor living spaces — at least for now! Sweep and wash your patio or deck, polish up your railings, and clean your outdoor light fixtures. Meanwhile, bring container plants indoors, and cover up or remove your outdoor furniture and decor. Cover your grill for the season, and clean all of the grime and gunk off of your outdoor tools and appliances before putting them back into storage. For a bigger project, consider staining and resealing your deck before winter settles in. This can help prevent rotting and damage to the wood, and increase the longevity of your deck.
3.) Weatherize Your Windows and Doors
Windows and doors are some of the biggest sources of heat loss during the winter months. During the fall, check for drafts and gaps in your windows and doors. You can seal up gaps with caulk, and add weatherstripping to minimize the amount of air that gets in and out. Depending on the age and quality of your windows, it may also be time to think about an upgrade; consider replacing any broken windows or outdated single-pane models with newer, more energy-efficient styles.
4.) Tackle Those Last Minute Painting Projects
Have a painting project you’ve just kept putting off? Autumn may be the perfect time to get it done. With cool, sunny days, this is one of the last opportunities to open your windows and ensure proper ventilation while you work — whether you’re making little touch ups, or painting an entire room.
5.) Check Your Insulation and Seal Up Gaps
Frosty winter weather can take a serious toll on your property, drive up your energy bills, and cause serious health effects — especially if your insulation is not up to snuff. During the fall months, work with a professional to examine the insulation in your attic and basement. Seal up any cracks where air is escaping, and consider upgrading or beefing up your insulation.
6.) Service Your HVAC Systems
When was the last time you had an experienced professional examine and service your home’s heating, ventilation, and cooling systems? Ideally, homeowners should aim to have their HVAC systems inspected and tuned up at least once per year. The fall months can be a great time to schedule this appointment, as it gives your technician the chance to survey any wear or tear that may have come up over the summer, while also getting your home ready for winter. Meanwhile, there are some simple DIY tasks you can take to help protect your HVAC systems during the fall months, including changing out your furnace filters, bringing your window air conditioning units inside, and clearing away overgrowth and debris from your outdoor pumps and units. This may also be a prime opportunity to look into green updates you can make to your HVAC system, such as installing an energy-saving programmable thermostat.
7.) Get Your Lawn and Garden Ready for Cold Weather
If your lawn and garden are your pride and joy, remember that the work you do in the fall can seriously pay off come spring. Take some time to fertilize and aerate your soil. Add mulch to insulate your garden, and trim back overgrown or damaged bushes and trees — before heavy winter snow can cause further damage. Rake up leaves on a regular basis throughout the season. As the weather cools down, turn off and cover your outdoor spigots, and take some simple steps to protect your outdoor irrigation system. Look for gaps or cracks in your hardscaping, such as your driveway or any pathways around your property; minor cracks can turn into chasms during a freezing winter, so work with a professional to get them repaired while you can.
8.) Check Your Alarms and Change Your Filters
As you get ready to set your clocks to “fall back” this season, think about all of the other projects you should take on regularly throughout the year — including checking and changing the batteries in your smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors, changing your air filters, or running a test of your home security system.
9.) Inspect Your Roof
Summer thunderstorms can cause serious damage to your roof, and winter weather can quickly turn small problems into major disasters. The fall shoulder season is a great time to work with a roofing expert to look for damage, including leaky spots or sagging supports. A professional can repair or replace damaged or missing shingles, and help make sure your roof is sealed tight and structurally sound before heavy winter snowfall comes our way.
10.) Bring Your Floors Back to Life
A summer outdoors means lots of chances to track mud and grass onto your floors. As you start to get ready for the cooler months, think about how you can bring your floors back to life. Now is a perfect time to shampoo your carpets and rugs, when you can still open up the windows and allow for proper ventilation. If you regularly clean your hardwoods with a dry brush or mop, now may be the time to treat them with a bit of wood cleaner or a fresh sealant. You can also polish up the tile floors in your kitchen and bathroom, making sure to get into the grout and cracks for a truly spotless finish. And while you’re looking down, use a clean cloth to wipe away dust and scuff marks from your baseboards and trim.
11.) Protect Your Plumbing
More time spent indoors means more work for your home’s plumbing system. Take some time early in the fall to look around your home and repair any dripping faucets or running toilets — which can each cause thousands of wasted gallons each and every year. Look for water damage or wet spots, as these could be a sign of leaking pipes or water intrusion. Consider upgrading your showerheads or faucets for newer, more efficient low-flow fixtures. Finally, take some steps to winterproof your plumbing. Wrap up your water heater and any exposed pipes to prevent freezing and increase efficiency, and consider setting your water heater’s temperature a few degrees lower.
12.) Stock Up On Supplies for Winter
Do you have everything you need for a safe and comfortable winter? Autumn is a great time to check your supplies, and stock up on all the things you may need. In addition to cozy blankets and chic winter decor, spend some time inventorying and restocking your winter emergency preparedness kits. Aim to have one kit in your home and one in your car, each well-stocked with supplies you may need in a winter storm, including batteries, first aid supplies, and more. Check your snow removal equipment and shovels to make sure they’re still functional, store some dry firewood, and make sure your vehicle has windshield wiper fluid and plenty of air in its tires.
13.) Take Care of Your Houseplants
Houseplants are a welcome addition to any home. They help provide a chic finish to a room, and can offer some real health benefits in their own right. Of course, remember that your plants need a little care to stay fresh and healthy — especially when your indoor air gets dry and dusty during the fall and winter. Be sure to gently wipe down the leaves on your houseplants to get rid of dust on a regular basis; you can also clean off some of your heartier plants in the shower or bathtub.
14.) Get Rid of Clutter Around the House
Tired of the same old, same old? One of the best ways to refresh your home is to get rid of unwanted clutter. This way, you can enjoy a fresh, clean space as you hunker down during the fall and winter months. Work room by room and go category by category, dividing up items based on what you want to keep, what you should throw away or recycle, and what you can donate. Once you’ve gotten rid of some clutter, look into fun organization and storage solutions to manage what you’re keeping — and look for Chicagoland charities and organizations that can help make sure your old items go to a good cause.
15.) Perfect Your “Work From Home” Setup
This fall, people around Chicagoland will be thinking of how to be productive and focus while working and learning from home. Take some time to set up a home office or classroom space. Find a quiet area with a steady internet connection and a simple background perfect for Zoom calls. Keep your workstation organized and clutter-free; bundle up your cables; and keep your electronics clean and free of dust and grime.
Ready to Make the Most of Fall in Chicagoland?
The cool, golden days of fall are a great opportunity to focus on your biggest home goals.
As the largest independent and locally owned real estate brokerage in Chicagoland, the Baird & Warner family has earned success by always putting our clients’ needs first. With sales, sales, mortgage and title services all under one roof, our One-Stop Shop can transform an intricate, complex process into one that is smarter and more seamless from beginning to end.
Looking for ways to enjoy all that autumn in Chicagoland has to offer? Ready to start your search for a new home this season? While it’s hardly business as usual, we know that the Chicagoland real estate market is still strong. The market is moving — and if you’re ready, you can too.