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Is Your Home Winter Ready? 7 Home Improvement Projects For Fall

We know you had good intentions. But that list of home improvement projects you planned to get done over the summer, well...

There was that spur of the moment vacation. Then Ed, known for his great parties, invited you to a cookout. And it isn't your fault you got a hammock for your birthday, right?

The good news is, it's not too late to scratch some home improvement projects for fall off your list before winter sets in.

In fact, fall is the perfect time for certain tasks. Some things you just can't tackle when the snow flies. Others will protect your home from winter's wrath.

Get ‘em done now. You wouldn't want to miss Ed's holiday party.

Caulk Cracks And Add Insulation

adding insulation before winter is the perfect home improvement project for fallRemember those balmy summer breezes? Well, suddenly they're not so balmy. Soon they'll turn into frigid winds that will blast through the nooks and crannies of your home.

Not sure where to look? Consider a home energy audit, where experts will inspect your home for cracks and gaps where warmth will seep out and winter's blast will sneak in. Energy auditors will inspect your home's caulking and weather stripping and likely check your attic.

If the attic insulation is at or below the level of the joists, you could benefit from adding more. A depth of 10 to 14 inches is considered ideal.

Caulk around your windows and door frames to prevent heat from escaping. It will also keep water from blowing in, freezing and causing cracks.

The good news? It's one of the least expensive maintenance jobs. We'll give it just one $.

Pro Tip

Choose waterproof, flexible, crack-proof silicone caulk. Avoid using acrylic caulk, which can shrink and crack over time and allow air and water seep through gaps.

Repair Your Roof

If your roof has even a small leak, you want to fix it before winter. Snow and freezing temperatures can make a small leak much worse, through the expansion and contraction of roofing materials due to freezing and thawing.

Inspect your roof for any loose or missing shingles.

If you consider yourself handy and own basic tools, you can probably repair or replace a damaged or missing shingle or two yourself. But if you discover significant problems, better call a pro.

It's much easier to deal with repairs now than to discover a damaged roof during a snow storm.

Pro Tip

A quick fix for a damaged shingle, from Popular Mechanics: Get a tube of roofing cement and a piece of aluminum flashing, available at home centers.

Cut the flashing about 1 inch narrower than the ripped tab and about 4 inches longer so that it extends under the tabs on either side.

Use a flat pry bar to carefully loosen the damaged tab and the tabs to the left and right. Next, apply two or three thick beads of roofing cement to the surface beneath the shingle.

Slip the flashing underneath and apply more roofing cement on top of the flashing. Press the tab down to adhere the flashing to the roof.

Fixing a shingle or two is an inexpensive one $ project. More extensive professional repairs will graduate to $$$.

Clean And Repair Gutters

cleaning gutters before winter is the perfect home improvement project for fall

You probably don't think much about your gutters, but they're crucial to the well-being of your home.

Gutters keep thousands of gallons of water flowing away from your house each year, instead of into it. They need your attention now, more than ever.

Leaves clog gutters, and clogged gutters are one of the major causes of ice dams in the winter, which can damage your roof and cause catastrophic leaks.

An ice dam is a ridge of ice that forms at the edge of a roof and prevents melting snow from draining off the roof. The water that backs up behind the dam can leak into your home and cause damage to walls, ceilings and insulation.

Once all the leaves around your house have fallen, clean out the gutters and down spouts, then flush them with water to get rid of all the debris. Inspect the joints. Tighten the brackets if they're loose.

You might invest in mesh guards that will keep leaves and other debris from clogging your gutters in the future. Or, if your gutters have seen better days, replace them with new ones that have built-in leaf guards.

If you just need to clean them out, this is a one $ job. Replacing them boosts the cost.

Pro Tip

Pick up a gutter cleaning scoop for just a few dollars at a home center or hardware store. This tool, often bright orange plastic, is specifically designed for the job, with a front scooping edge that forms itself to the bottom of the gutter trough, making it easy to scoop out debris.

Repair Driveways And Walks

They might not seem like a big deal, but small cracks in your driveway or walkway can quickly expand during winter's freezing and thawing temperatures.

Cracked cement and disintegrating asphalt can be treacherous for your family and for guests visiting your home.

Clean out and repair any damage with driveway filler, then coat with a commercial sealer. Sealing the driveway now will help extend the life of the asphalt through the winter and beyond.

This is a two $$ job.

Pro Tip

Make sure the temperature will stay above 45 degrees for a few days after you seal the driveway, and be sure no rain is expected for three days after you complete the project.

Interior Paint

interior painting with proper ventilation before winter is the perfect home improvement project for fallYes, you can paint indoors any time, but it's nice to open the windows for ventilation.

Fall, when it's not too cold, but humidity is lower, is a great time to paint the kitchen, living room or bedrooms.

We'll call this a two $$ job.

Pro Tip

If you've masked off baseboards with painter's tape, pull it off the same day as you apply the paint — but run a blade along it first, say experts from This Old House.

Latex paint can be rubbery until it dries completely. It's easy to pull away a piece of the paint from the wall when you go to remove it. Score the edge of the tape between the top of the baseboard and the wall with a putty knife held at a 45-degree angle.

Exterior Paint

If your siding and trim need a touch up, fall typically offers plenty of days that are warm enough to work with exterior paint. You want to paint when the temperature is about 45 to 50 degrees for the best paint performance.

A good paint job is your home's first line of defense against snow and ice.

A few touch ups won't cost you much. This is a one $ job. Save extensive painting for spring or summer.

Pro Tip

Touching up a porch floor or painted steps? Add a little bit of fine sand to the paint to add traction. You can use play sand or additives that are made for this purpose. Paint alone can be slick on steps and flooring.

Clean Out The Garage

cleaning out your garage before winter is the perfect home improvement project for fall

You don't want to tackle this chore when it's snowy and freezing cold. There are all kinds of tasks to do out here.

Weed out clutter you no longer use. Clean and store your summer garden tools. Drain the fuel from all gas-operated equipment such as lawn mowers, leaf blowers and chain saws.

Check to see that all of your snow equipment is up and running before the first flurry falls. You don't want a sudden scramble when the snow starts piling up and you need your shovels, roof rake and snow blower.

A basic clean-out costs nothing but your time. Spring for specialized storage and this becomes a two or three $$$ chore.

Pro Tip

Go vertical with storage. Fill your garage walls with shelving to get items up and off the floor. Experts recommend shelves of 18 inches deep or less.

Wall system storage designed specifically for garages helps get bikes, garden tools, coolers and outdoor toys off the floor.

One More Thing For Your List — Rent A Dumpster

So you've tackled your fall to-do list like a champ.

Now, what to do with those old gutters, damaged roof shingles and boxes of junk from the garage?

Toss them in a Bin There, Dump That bin — along with your completed list of fall home repair projects. Good riddance.

All those chores wore you out. Getting rid of the debris is the easy part. Carry the mess directly into your residential dumpster bin through the convenient rear doors, instead of hoisting it up over the sides. And while you're at it, check with your neighbor to see if they want to go in on renting a dumpster with you.

Find a dumpster rental operator near you. Then, tell winter — and Ed — you're ready.


Find out EVERYTHING you need to know about renting a dumpster bin.


Images: Cutting insultation, Clogged gutters, Painting bedroom, Messy garage