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The temperature is dropping, the leaves are starting to fall, and the birds are flying south. Winter is just around the corner and while the squirrels pack away food before the first snow fall, you’ll be relieved to know that you still have enough time to finish the projects listed below.

1. Prepare your yard. Your lawn will fall into dormancy during the winter, but a little work now can help it bounce back come spring. Fertilize and overseed your lawn using a spreader from your local home improvement store. You may also want to go a step further and core aerate. Aeration involves perforating the soil to allow air, water, and nutrients to penetrate the grass roots. This will help the roots grow deeply and produce a stronger, more vigorous lawn.

2. Clean the carpets. Fall is a great time to clean your carpet and prepare for the winter snow, salt, dirt, and grime. Cleaning your carpet before winter sets in puts them in the best possible condition for the cold months ahead. While you can hire a local company to clean your carpets for you, this is an easy weekend task that many homeowners can handle themselves. Most home improvement stores, as well as many grocery stores, offer machine rentals at a fraction of the cost compared to a professional cleaning service.

3. Protect your pipes from freezing. A busted or ruptured pipe can cause major damage to your home and your belongings. Ruptured pipes occur when the water within the pipe freezes and expands. The most susceptible pipes to freezing are typically located in unconditioned basements, crawlspaces, exterior faucets or bibs, as well as pipes in exterior walls. Steps can be taken to prevent pipes from freezing by keeping the indoor temperature of your home 65 degrees or warmer and insulating susceptible pipes like the ones mentioned above. On bitterly cold nights, it’s also a good idea to check your pipes periodically by running water at sink faucets, tubs, etc.

4. Seal the gaps. Now is the time to walk around the exterior of your home and look for deteriorated caulking and weather stripping around doors, windows, or any other penetration through the home. Not only will you help prevent energy loss and lower your utility bills, you’ll also prevent unwanted moisture intrusion which can lead to costly repairs in the future.

5. Empty the gutters. If I’ve said once, I’ve said it a hundred times. Keep your gutters clear of debris. It’s a beautiful time in East Tennessee when the leaves start to turn colors and fall, but it can also cause major problems in your gutters. Homes with dense vegetation and heavy tree growth require gutters to be cleaned once per week in late October through mid-November.

Following these simple steps will help you protect your investment and enjoy a happy winter ahead!