“Sweater weather” takes on a whole new meaning when you’re a homeowner.
From lawn maintenance to winterizing the pool, the change of the season ushers in a slew of extra items for your to-do list.
There’s plenty to keep you busy this fall if you’re feeling ambitious and ready to try your hand at some DIY home maintenance. But it’s also easy to outsource your list if you have the budget—and if you prefer not to spend your weekends installing insulation or trimming back tree branches.
Ready to roll your sleeves up (or hire a helpful contractor)? Here are six tasks to add to your to-do list this fall.
1. Check your home’s insulation
Just as you check the windows and doors for air leaks, it’s important to keep an eye on your home’s insulation to ensure heat isn’t escaping, says Darcy Lee, senior project manager of air handlers at Trane Residential.
“If your attic or crawl space isn’t properly insulated, your heating system has to work harder during the fall and winter months to keep your home at a consistently comfortable temperature,” Lee says. “The more it works, the more it costs you.”
DIY: Some insulation materials, like fiberglass or mineral wool, are easy enough for average homeowners to install themselves, Lee says. She suggests adding extra insulation to your garage door for a DIY project.
Call in the pros: For the rest of us, handling insulation can be a little daunting, and it’s never a bad idea to call in help.
“An insulation contractor can properly assess the materials required for each project, and can complete the job quickly and efficiently,” Lee says.
This is especially true if your home’s insulation is from the 1970s or earlier.
“Insulation quality has come a long way since then,” Lee says.
The cost of an insulation upgrade depends on the extent of the project, but the average price is around $2,400, according to the National Association of Realtors®.
2. Test your home’s indoor air quality
If your allergies flare up in the fall due to mold, pollen, and dander, “there are some easy ways to reduce those triggers from entering your own home,” Lee says. “It starts with testing your home’s indoor air quality to assess what airborne particles may be negatively affecting the air you breathe at home.”
DIY: Pick up an indoor air–monitoring device that checks temperature, humidity, carbon dioxide, fine particulate matter, and volatile organic compounds. A model like the Awair Element will set you back $300 but offers sophisticated data analysis with an app where you can monitor air quality in real time.
Call in the pros: Your trusted HVAC provider can also test your home’s air quality. These appointments cost a little over $400, depending on where you live and the size of your home.
“They know exactly what to look for and can run several tests at once when inspecting your home for potential danger zones,” Lee says.
3. Trim the trees
Lawn maintenance isn’t fun, per se—a recent survey found that more than a quarter of homeowners loathe lawn care—but this one is important to tackle before winter arrives.
“Trimming trees of dead branches can help prevent damage from heavy winds or snowfall this winter,” says Bailey Carson, home care expert at Angi.
Call in the pros: For the high-up and heavy tree limbs, it’s safer to bring in a professional.
Tree-trimming services run anywhere from a couple hundred to a couple thousand dollars—the higher end would be for complete tree removal.
“The cost to hire a tree service will vary depending on what you need done, but it will be worth it if you’re dealing with big trees or trees in dangerous locations,” Carson says.
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4. Clear brush and leaves to keep pests out
This isn’t just about aesthetics—keeping your lawn cleared of leaves and debris helps prevent pests from moving in the winter.
“Most insects will begin to migrate to areas that they can easily harbor as fall turns to winter,” says Matthew Mills, CEO of green pest manufacturer Med-X and the creator of Nature-Cide. “If you want to keep the indoors of your homes pest-free, keeping a tidy yard will help prevent that.”
DIY: In addition to raking and removing leaves, keep an eye out for water leaks, Mills says.
“Pests are always looking for food and water, and sometimes that can be a leaky faucet and an old newspaper,” he says.
Doesn’t sound too homey to us, but that setup could be a cockroach or rat’s “favorite harborage area and breeding ground,” Mills says.
Call in the pros: If you already have a pest problem, bring in the big guns.
“Once you have cleaned up debris, brush, and tall grass, and you continue to have issues with any pests and don’t have the time to learn how to do it yourself, it’s always best to call in an expert and get a couple estimates to keep infestations from building up,” Mills says.
A single visit runs between $300 and $550.
5. Winterize your pool
Winterizing the pool is the best way to make sure you won’t run into problems next summer when you’re ready to dive back in.
“You’ll want to maintain it properly throughout the winter to avoid algae, freezing, or other issues,” Carson says.
DIY: There’s a long list of items to check off when you’re closing your pool for winter—everything from chemical treatments to filter cleaning. Luckily, these tasks are DIY-friendly. Set aside a weekend to thoroughly clean and prep your pool before covering it for the season.
Call in the pros: If you don’t have the time to run through the list—or if you’re new to pool maintenance—bring in a professional to help out this season.
“If this is your first winter with your pool, hire a pro to winterize it properly and learn from them how to DIY it in the future,” Carson says. “Hiring a pro to close and winterize your pool will likely cost between $150 and $500.”
6. Prep for power outages
How would you fare if your house lost power for an extended period? Chances are, you don’t want to find out.
“With storms increasingly and sometimes unexpectedly impacting regions across the country (think last year’s Texas freeze), now is the time to have a generator installed,” says Jason Metzger, senior vice president and head of risk management and service operations at PURE Insurance.
Call in the pros: When it comes to installing a whole-house generator, it’s best to leave this one to the professionals. The price varies considerably (from $1,000 to more than $7,000) depending on the size of your home and the generator’s energy source.