When you notice a slight chill in the air at the end-of-summer barbecue, that’s your sign it’s time to pack away the beach chairs and get serious about work, school—and prepping your home for cold weather.
A transitional month when blazing heat turns to autumn cool, September is the perfect window of opportunity to catch up on outdoor fixes you put off for summer beach parties and road trips.
Don’t procrastinate. “Hire your pros now,” says Don Vandervort, home improvement expert at HomeTips.com. “Later on, you’ll be competing with other homeowners for the best roofers, handypeople, and yard services. When service providers’ schedules fill up, costs go up, and good pros are hard to find.”
Save time and money by hiring pros now for fall services.Don Vandervort, home improvement expert at HomeTips.com
Not sure what to tackle first? Our September home maintenance checklist features 5 must-do items to tackle while the weather is still mild. Whether you hire a handyperson, HVAC pro, or do it yourself, taking care of these maintenance tasks now will give you peace of mind (and save your wallet) later in the year.
If your region is still hot in September, here’s a “cool” energy-saving trick.
@yelp How to keep cool this summer by @hometips.com. #ac #fan #summer #tips #hometips #airconditioner ♬ original sound – Yelp
1. Tighten up your house
Now’s the time to plug up leaks, cracks, and other weak spots before colder, stormier weather finds its way into your house.
- Gussy up your gutters. Make sure gutters and downspouts are free of debris, which can cause backups and flood your home. Also, tighten gutter brackets and supports so they won’t sag when filled with water. Taking care of this now could prevent thousands of dollars in water damage later.
- Caulk cracks and repaint. If fallen tree branches or a flying baseball cracked your siding during the summer, now’s the time to fix it. Some small repairs are easy to do yourself. You can also hire an experienced handyperson to seal up more extensive damage for $40–80 per hour, plus the price of materials. If the patch job also requires cosmetic work, consider painting. September is a good month for exterior painting—you’ll pay less than in spring or summer.
- Get a roof check-up. The health of your home’s “lid” is critical to everything below it. Hire a roof inspector to see what’s going on up top. If the pro finds damaged shingles, repair or replace them now. Learn more: How to hire a reliable roofer and Signs you need a new roof.
2. Prep your patio
Summery days and cool evenings make September the perfect time to entertain outside. Here are some ways to prep your outdoor space for hosting.
- Punch up your patio. Use a power washer to scrub grime off the surface. Add patio heating for chilly fall nights, and for year-round enjoyment, consider a patio roof to protect against rain and snow. Learn more: DIY patio ideas on a budget.
Pro tip: At $200–600, a fabric gazebo is an inexpensive way to protect your small patio from rain and wind. Some are available with mosquito-netting walls to keep out bugs and insects.
- Fire up a fire pit. Whether you buy off-the-shelf or have a fire pit custom built, there’s nothing quite like a cozy fire for creating ambiance in cooler weather. They’re available for every budget and style, from a $70 store-bought metal bowl to a custom-built patio feature that can cost $1,200–5000+. Learn more: 7 firepit styles: Which is right for your home?
- Light up your landscaping. As days grow shorter, landscape lighting can illuminate your deck, patio, or yard for social gatherings while providing extra safety and security. Bistro lights over the patio and solar lights along pathways, for example, can help guide the way. Learn more: Outdoor landscape lighting ideas for your home and Choosing the right outdoor lighting.
3. Start fall yard work
The change of seasons is a perfect time to get a jump on autumn landscaping tasks.
- Get your lawn ready for winter. To ensure it grows back lush next spring, hire a lawn care pro to analyze the soil and prescribe a program for seeding, aerating, and fertilizing now. This is best done when daytime temperatures cool down but soil remains warm. Learn more: Expert tips for growing a lush lawn.
Pro tip: Consider “overseeding,” which involves adding extra seeds to boost a lawn’s density and fill in bare spots. It’s best done in early fall.
- Plant fall flowers. For a pop of color that lasts through fall and winter, consider planting cold-loving pansies that are hardy enough to withstand winter months. September is also a great time to plant spring-blooming bulbs, such as daffodils and tulips—their roots need time to establish before cold weather sets in.
- Pull weeds and mulch. After pulling out excess weeds, spread 2–3 inches of bark mulch around the base of shrubs and trees to minimize moisture loss and suppress new weed growth. If you don’t have a green thumb, consider hiring a landscaper.
- Prune hedges and trees. Remove damaged or dead limbs now so they don’t break off in stormy weather or under the weight of snow, creating a safety risk to humans and homes. Learn more: Tree trimming and removal: When to hire an expert.
4. Make space for school kids
When classes begin and schoolwork becomes a priority, kids need a well-lit, well-organized, and comfortable place to concentrate on homework. Before classes start, spend time getting their rooms in order. Don’t forget the kitchen table, and other areas they use frequently.
- Clear clutter. Help kids organize and put away their clothes, toys, games, and other items. Donate stuff they’ve outgrown or that no longer “sparks joy,” as Marie Kondo suggests. Learn more: 5 reasons to hire a professional home organizer.
- Create a dedicated work area. Buy or build a desk, table, or work surface in anticipation of daily homework. Not enough space? Consider building them a home “cloffice” aka closet office.
- Buy a bookshelf. This helps kids stay organized and keeps desktop clutter to a minimum. You can buy a simple ready-to-assemble (RTA) bookshelf online or at mass-market retailers for less than $100. Assembling it together is a great life lesson!
- Corral cords. With all the electronic gear in kids’ rooms these days, electrical cords and computer cables can become a real nuisance. Easy-to-install “under desk cable organizers” can corral cord clutter for less than $20.
Pro tip: Don’t stuff everything into the closet—that makes it harder for young ones to find what they need. About half of Americans say their biggest home-organizing problem is an overstuffed closet, according to research by the National Association of Productivity and Organizing Professionals (NAPO).
5. Tune up your furnace and fireplace
Get heating equipment ready well in advance, so you won’t have to scramble when cold weather comes.
- Hire an HVAC pro. They should tune up your gas or electric furnace, change furnace filters, and check thermostat settings. Annual maintenance visits cost $125–250, on average, and can prevent an outage in the middle of winter. Find out How to hire a good heating and air-conditioning contractor.
- Schedule a chimney sweep. This is a good time to have your wood-burning fireplace or wood stove chimney inspected and cleaned by a professional chimney sweep. The Chimney Safety Institute of America (CSIA) advises doing that every year. Cleaning the chimney can prevent dangerous fires caused by a buildup of a tar-like substance called creosote on inner chimney walls. They’ll also be able to make any needed repairs. Learn more: Dos and don’ts of fireplace safety.
Changing HVAC filters can improve heating in winter and reduce energy usage. Learn how to DIY in this video.
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- Check safety monitors. Be sure smoke alarms or smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors are operable, and change the batteries if needed. Also, check the charge in fire extinguishers. Learn more: Best smoke and carbon monoxide detectors in your home.
September tasks for your region
When planning September tasks, keep in mind that your local climate will dictate which chores to tackle first. Here are your regional home-maintenance tips:
- Atlantic Coast and Gulf of Mexico. Hurricane season is in full swing in September— so get your home and emergency supplies in order if you live in a hurricane-prone area. Learn more about Preparing your house for a hurricane.
- Northeast, Midwest, and Northwest. September days might already be stormy or chilly (dipping into the mid-50s), so homeowners in these areas should concentrate on sealing up the house and prepping the heating system.
- High plains and low mountain regions. If you live in an area where September temps are mild, focus on yard work and exterior fix-ups.
- Western US and fire zones. In fire-prone areas, it’s essential to clear dry grasses and prune back tree limbs that overhang roofs. Remove dead leaves and needles from roof and gutters. Also remove flammable materials, such as firewood, from exterior walls.
- Southern US. In Arizona, California, Florida, Texas, and other southern regions, September highs can top the 90s and make it too hot to work outdoors. This is a good time to get your kids’ rooms ready for school and do some general interior cleanup.
An experienced handyperson can help with some or all of these September home maintenance tasks. Find one near you.