While it is not exactly “cold” yet, if you’re up early like me you know that fall is most certainly right around the corner. Our longing for those “cool nights that are so good for sleeping” has been satiated. I even had to reach for a light blanket a few times overnight this past week. Another sure sign is the apples on our tree in the back yard have started to drop in earnest. It might be time to invest in a cider press!

This is a great time of year for some of those home projects as well. The ones that you wanted to do over the summer but the simple act of walking to the garage induced a puddle of sweat. This is the perfect time to enjoy the cooler temps and prepare your home for the impending doom that is winter!

If you have been reading all along, you know that winter is my favorite time of year. It’s just that, in the fall, it always seems to come along a little too quickly.

But I digress. Let’s take a cruise around the house and see what we can find that would be helpful to the health of our home this winter.

One of the best parts about fall in New England is the foliage. One of the worst parts about fall in New England is picking up the refuse of the beautiful foliage. Besides being a kid at heart and jumping in huge leaf piles, the other part of foliage season is cleaning the leaves out of your gutters. Summer rains have no problem working their way through the debris in your gutters, but the winter snow and ice is another story entirely.

We have all seen those quaint pictures of a lovely home covered in snow with huge icicles hanging down in front of the windows. While adorable and cozy looking, those icicles are a sure sign of trouble. Not only is the heat from the home escaping into the attic and melting the snow on the roof, the ice is also making its way beneath the shingles and causing further damage to the structure of the home. All of which can be helped (along with some additional insulation in the ceiling) by ensuring your gutters are clear and there’s much less water that can dam up and start trouble.

While we are on the topic of roofs, this is also a good time to give yours a once-over. If you live in an area that tends to deposit branches atop your roof, get a good ladder and give it a visual inspection. Small areas of damage or “lifted” shingles can normally be easily (and inexpensively) replaced or repaired. This is one of those areas where a little preventive maintenance can go a long way. Winter is certainly not the time to have to repair your roof (or anything on the exterior), so take a little time now to save yourself the hassle.

A couple of years ago I lamented on to you all about the “critters” in our home. Granted, most of them were not among the living. But keeping any of their friends from taking shelter in our home was top on the list of my late-summer projects. Speaking of which, I think it is time to re-check my work. The basic concept here is to think small and ensure that there’s no way in (or out) for those little creatures. In their defense, they are just trying to secure a warm place to crash for the winter. If getting in or out is problematic, they will keep looking.

“Walking (or crawling) around the perimeter of your home with your focus at 12-18 inches above the ground is one of the best ways to find (and fix!) access spots for critters,” says Badger Realty agent Michele Jordan. “My go-to material is the expanding spray foam, but caulking works as well,” she continued.

Michele is right and I’ve even gone as far as mixing some steel wool into the caulking or spray foam to ensure that the mice are not as easily able to chew their way through it. It should go without saying that you will want to have on some disposable gloves for this project.

One final task you should tackle, especially if you’re already walking around the outside of your home, is to disconnect those exterior hoses and store them someplace warm. The quick change in temperature means that our first frost is not too far away. Allowing those hoses to freeze, and subsequently push that ice into the home, is a sure way to cause some cracked pipes or worse. If you have shutoff valves on those faucets, this is also the time to close those off for the season. The task of turning them on and re-connecting the hoses is a small price to pay versus cleaning out a flooded basement!

The nights are cooling off and the days are still nice and warm. This truly is one of the best times of the year in New Hampshire. Enjoy the weather and do a little maintenance around the home. It’ll give you a nice sense of accomplishment and peace of mind throughout the winter.

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