Prep your nest for winter
Home improvement ideas for fall
As temperatures start to cool and the days get shorter, fall is the perfect time to finish those summer projects and get ready for a cozy and comfortable winter indoors. We help you prep like a pro with a whole assortment of home improvement tricks, tips and how-tos.
Weather strip away that cold
If your energy bill has been creeping ever higher the last couple winters, you could be falling victim to a sneaky and unseen menace: air leakage. To stop that money from sneaking out the door in the form of lost heat, inspect your doors, windows and vents to see if the weather stripping is worn or if any gaps or cracks have developed over time. And remember to also check rarely occupied areas like attics, basements and crawl spaces, which can often be the most shameless heat thieves.
Before caulking or installing new weather stripping, make sure the surface is spotless and that old caulk and stripping is completely removed. Use 100-percent silicone caulk so that your new seal is waterproof. Though there are many types of weather stripping available, in general, the more time it takes to install, the more effective it will be because the material is tough and more durable. Adhesive-backed products are a cinch, but they will probably last only 3-5 years, whereas tubular rubber or vinyl gaskets that are nailed in place will significantly last longer.
Your refrigerator works hard to keep your food and liquids cold, but it often doesn’t rank at the top of your to-do list. However, because the fridge backs up against a wall it creates a space that attracts and accumulates dust, hair and debris of every kind. The condenser coils that carry heat away from the fridge are located in back, which puts them right at ground zero of this debris build-up.
One simple fix is to run a vacuum over the coils a couple times a year so that there’s less resistance and more cooling efficiency. You should also check the seal around the door to see if any air is escaping. An easy trick is to hold a piece of paper, or dollar bill, near the closed door and see if it flutters. If so, you’ll need to replace the seal, which is usually an easy fix.
Give your lawn some TLC
If you want to ensure your lawn is looking its best in the spring, you need to get started in the fall. The simplest (though most time consuming) is to rake up all of those leaves. Leaves that sit atop your grass for too long can suffocate your lawn and hamper its growth. To get more bang for your buck, you can look into turning those excess leaves into leaf mold, which can be used as a soil additive when you’re planting your vegetable or flower gardens in the spring. Also take some time to fertilize and winterize your grass with a fertilizer suited to the temperate region of your grass (generally either warm-season turf or cool-season turf). Warm-season grasses benefit from one to two applications of winter fertilizer in October or November, while cool-season grasses benefit from single does of slow-release nitrogen fertilizer in early autumn.
Seek out and solve any leaks
Identifying leaks where water flows within your home can prevent serious expenses and health issues down the road. When left untreated, water seepage and leaks can lead to mold, which releases harmful spores into the air and, when left unchecked, can even lead to respiratory infections and other health problems.
Common areas where water may be leaking include faucets, showers, toilets and the washing machine. Each type of faucet— compression valve, ball, cartridge and ceramic disks—requires different methods of repair, but all are fairly basic and shouldn’t require outside help.
Toilet leaks can be tricky because they’re silent and slow, so try this trick to determine if water is escaping: Add a couple drops of red food coloring or dye to the tank water, let it sit for a half hour and then check the bowl. If the water in the bowl is clear, you’re good to go. If it’s pink, you have a leak.
With a dishwasher or washing machine, leaks will usually develop at the water hose connection. Check washers, gaskets and spring clamps at every connection point and replace them if they look rusted or worn.