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Get a Jump Start on Preparing Your Home and Garden for Fall

From hand tools to home appliances, preparing for the increasingly cold weather can be easy and affordable.
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Autumn yard work

Fall is the perfect time to work outside the house, caring for your lawn and home's exterior. Head outside to enjoy the cool, invigorating air and the colorful display of leaves on changing trees — because soon, that same cool air will attempt to invade your home, and those beautiful leaves may become a big nuisance after they drop.

It's time to make sure you're equipped for those upcoming fall chores, so you can tackle the season's unique challenges from the outset, before the lovely autumn weather turns cold on your home.

Autumn Yardwork: Don't Let Leaves Become a Problem

Sure, one of the delights of fall is the changing colors of the leaves, but they don't just disappear — they often seemingly head straight for the gutters. An accumulation of leaves could clog them and cause water to pool, and when that water freezes and expands, it can do damage. Dangerous icicles can form overhead, too, like large spears aiming downward, ready to drop. To prevent this from happening, the dreaded chore of cleaning out the gutters is a must-do on the fall housework list. Before you go snaking out the gutters, you'll want to make sure you have a tall enough ladder. The Werner 24-ft Aluminum 225-lb Type II Extension Ladder($184.99 with free in-store pickup, a low by $4) is the right height for reaching most gutters.

While a lot of leaves can collect in the gutters on your house, most falling leaves end up on your lawn, and dead and browning leaves left on the ground can kill the grass underneath and become a mess to clean up in the spring. You could rake your autumn leaves with the ergonomic Flexrake Smart Rake 24" Poly Head Rake ($15.75 with free in-store pickup, a low by $7), but raking can be backbreaking work. Instead, consider using a leaf blower to bring order back to your yard. The Toro 230mph 51618 Super Blower/Vac ($54.99 with $9.95 s&h, a low by $10) not only blows leaves, but also functions as a vacuum to suck up debris.

Before you put that ladder away, you should look to trimming the trees around your house.You certainly don't want ice and snow accumulating on the tree limbs that hang over your house. Snow-covered branches could break and damage your roof or cause injury. So get up on that ladder and grab the Fiskars 12-foot Extendable Pruning Saw ($44.99 with $6.49 s&h, a low by $3) to do some trimming. It's a professional grade tree pruner with an extendable 12-foot pole equipped with a sharp 15" saw blade that'll make trimming trees a breeze.

Preparing Your Home for the Cold: Insulate and Seal

Why not gather those branches you just cut and add them to your dry firewood pile? Before long you'll want to light a warm fireplace, so stock up on well-seasoned wood now. If you regularly split your own wood, consider buying an ax specially made for the task. The True American 8-lb Axe-Eye Wood Splitter with Fiberglass Handle ($41.25 with free shipping, a low by $3) is well equipped to hack and chop wood without having to exert great amounts of effort.

Despite a cozy fire, drafty windows and doors can do a number on your home heating bill. To counteract the wintry winds, you should install storm doors and windows for the upcoming season. But more importantly it's crucial to identify any air leaks and seal the spaces with caulk. This Z-PRO No Drip Standard Caulk Gun ($11.87 with free shipping, a low by $6) is among the most affordable caulk guns we could find. To test your seal, hold a lit incense stick near the caulked spaces between the windows and moldings to check for gaps; a small stream of smoke will pass through if there are any holes.

Another way to ensure your home stays comfortably warm (without burning a hole in your wallet) is to have your furnace inspected in advance of the cold weather. A professional inspection will ensure your furnace is working as efficiently as possible (potentially saving you money) and isn't putting out noxious fumes.

Speaking of noxious fumes, if your house is nice and sealed up (thanks to airtight, draft-free windows and doors) it's crucial that you check your smoke detectors and carbon monoxide alarms to ensure they're fully functional. Plus, with your furnace running (and perhaps a fireplace lit), there is greater potential for deadly fumes in your home. A simple change of batteries can be life-saving. If you don't have carbon monoxide detectors, the First Alert Battery Powered Carbon Monoxide Alarm ($12.93 with free shipping with Prime, a low by $3) is a good choice.

Most of these fall chores can be done in an afternoon if you've got the right tools. Plus, once they're completed, you'll get to enjoy the crisp breeze, falling leaves, and even a nice apple cider as you admire your immaculate lawn and cozy home.

Note that this feature has been updated since it was originally published last fall.
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Contributing Writer

Tom Barlow is a freelance journalist specializing in lifestyle and consumer issues. In addition to DealNews, his writing has appeared on many websites, including Forbes.com and Aol’s DailyFinance.com.
Please note that, although prices sometimes fluctuate or expire unexpectedly, all products and deals mentioned in this feature were available at the lowest total price we could find at the time of publication (unless otherwise specified).
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