50 Small Fall Home Projects to Do Over the Weekend
Knock out these must-do fall projects in just a couple of days and it’ll be smooth sailing in your home all winter long.
Coat and Mitten Rack
Shoe Storage Booster Stool
Closet Nook Shelves
Wire shelves are available in a variety of widths. Measure the width and depth of the space. Then choose the correct shelving and ask the salesperson to cut the shelves to length for you. Subtract 3/8 in. from the actual width to determine the shelf length. Buy a pair of end mounting brackets and a pair of plastic clips for each shelf.
Swedish Boot Scraper
Plus: Tune Up a Lawn Mower
Fix a Storm Door Closer
Fix a Door that Doesn’t Latch
Fix Loose Hinges
The screws holding the top hinges carry most of the weight of the door and are almost always the first to pull out, especially after they’ve been repeatedly tightened over the years. Here’s the best way to fix those loose hinges and beef them up.
Unstick a Sliding Door
Repair Any Torn Screens or Nets
Fix Your Own Furnace
Replace Damaged Vinyl Siding
Vinyl siding repair is tough, but not indestructible. If a falling branch or a well-hit baseball has cracked a piece of your siding, you can make it as good as new in about 15 minutes with a $5 zip tool (available at any home center) and a replacement piece. It’s as simple as unzipping the damaged piece and snapping in a new one. Here’s how to replace your damaged siding.
Raise an Adjustable Entry Door Threshold
Those big screwheads in the threshold of a newer entry door aren’t just decorative; they raise or lower a narrow strip set in the threshold. So if you’ve noticed a draft under the door, try this: On a sunny day, turn off the lights and close nearby curtains. Lie down and look for daylight under the door. A sliver of light sneaking in at both corners of the door is normal. But if you see light between the threshold and the door, grab your screwdriver. Here’s how to raise the threshold.
Shim Gapping Doors
If you have big gaps along the latch side of your doors, they were probably prehung in their frames at the factory and installed as a unit. The installer should have adjusted the frame with shims to leave about a 1/8-in. gap along the latch side, about the thickness of two quarters (coins). Sometimes the gap is far too wide. Here’s how to shim gapping doors.
Wash the Dryer Filter
A common cause of poor drying is a clogged lint filter. The filter may look clean, but it may actually be covered by a nearly invisible film caused by dryer sheets. This film reduces airflow and forces the thermostat to shut off the heat before your clothes are dry. Test your filter by pouring water into it. If the filter holds water, it’s past time to clean it. Pull out the filter and scrub it in hot water with a little laundry detergent and a stiff kitchen brush.
Lubricate Sticking Locks
If your lock turns hard or your key doesn’t slide in smoothly, the lock might be worn out. Then again, it may just need lubrication. Squirt a puff of powdered graphite into the keyhole. Unlike liquid lubricants, graphite won’t create sticky grime inside the lock. A tube costs about $3 at home centers.
Organize Your Garage For Less Than $200
There are lots of ways to create more storage space in your garage, but you won’t find another system that’s as simple, inexpensive or versatile as this one. It begins with a layer of plywood fastened over drywall or bare studs. Then you just screw on a variety of hooks, hangers, shelves and baskets to suit your studs. And because you can place hard- ware wherever you want (not only at studs), you can arrange items close together to make the most of your wall space. As your needs change, you’ll appreciate the versatility of this storage wall too; just unscrew shelves or hooks to rearrange the whole system.
Install a Programmable Thermostat
When it comes to energy savings, few upgrades pay off as quickly as a programmable thermostat. If you turn down the heat 5 degrees at night and 10 degrees during the day when no one is home, you’ll cut your energy bill by 5 to 20 percent. If you raise the temperature the same amount during the cooling season, your savings will be similar. You can do this with a manual thermostat, but a programmable model never forgets to turn down the heat at night and it can raise the temperature before you get out of bed in the morning. We show you how to install a programmable thermostat quickly and easily.
Critter-Proof Your Home
If unwanted critters are waging war on your house, it’s time to fight back. Here are some effective pest-fighting strategies. We’ll give you tips about how to close the entryways that let critters in, and also how to evict them if they manage to get past your defenses.
Stop Drafts Around Windows and Doors
If your windows or doors are a source of chilly drafts all winter long, the problem could be worn-out seals, weather stripping or thresholds. Then again, sloppy installation might be to blame. When cold weather arrives, hold the back of your hand near the edges of windows or doors to track down the source of leaks. If you feel cold air flowing out from behind the trim, chances are the spaces around the window and door jambs weren’t properly sealed.
Plugging these leaks is a time-consuming job: You have to pull off the interior trim, seal around the jambs and then reinstall the trim. But if your doors and windows are otherwise fairly airtight, the payoff can be big too. Stopping drafts not only makes your home more comfortable but also cuts energy bills.
Insulate Rim Joists
In just a couple of hours, you can seal and insulate your rim joists, which are major sources of heat loss in many homes. This project will help lower your heating costs and save you money. Insulating the rim joists is one of the best things you can do to make your home more energy efficient. And it’s easy, too, so anyone can do it. Learn how to insulate your rim joists here.
Seal Attic Air Leaks
Small air leaks into uninsulated attic space are a major source of heat loss in many homes.With some inexpensive materials and a day’s labor, you can save lots of money on heating every year by sealing these holes. We’ll show you where to find the bypasses in your attic and simple techniques for plugging and sealing them.
Rake Those Leaves!
Aerate the Lawn
To ensure lush grass and a healthy lawn in the spring, fall is the best time to aerate. Aeration breaks up compacted soil to allow water and fertilizer to penetrate deep down into a healthy root system. A must do fall ready project.
For more, check out our fall lawn care guide.
Prep Your Garden
After that’s done, check out these 10 easy to build planters and start planning your spring building projects!
Clean and Store Garden Tools
Inspect Your Fence
For the skinny on how to take care of any fence maintenance and make it fall ready, you may need to do, check out our guide here.
Paul Reeves Photography/Shutterstock
Clean and Fill Bird Feeders
Winter can be hard going for birds in terms of finding food to eat. Be sure to refill your bird feeders now and make them fall ready. This will keep our feathered friends happy and fed for the winter. If you don’t have a bird feeder or house, creating one is a great indoor project over winter.
A colorful garden in the spring requires fall ready planting. Plant early flowering plants in September where they can still take advantage of fall rains. Follow depth directions to avoid frost damage over the winter.
Store Outdoor Furniture
Often overlooked but essential to keeping your outdoor living space in tip-top shape is cleaning and storing your garden furniture out of the elements. Fall is also a perfect time to clean up any rust, repaint or repair your garden furniture so it looks great when you uncover it in the spring.
Winterize Your Grill
Store Your Hoses
Locate all outside hoses and drain them for storage. Be sure to remove splitters or any other items from each outdoor faucet.
If your hoses need to be replaced, this hose guide can help you find the best one for your needs.
Winterizing a Sprinkler System
You can pay the irrigation company $125 every year to blow out your sprinkler system, or you can use your air compressor and do it yourself. You just have to be careful not to leave any water in the line or it might freeze over the winter and burst a pipe. Also be aware that even the largest home compressor isn’t powerful enough to blow out the entire system at once, so you’ll probably have to blow it out zone by zone.
If you’re into number crunching and you have the original irrigation layout showing the gallons per minute (gpm) of each sprinkler head, just divide the total gpm of each zone by 7.5. That’ll give you the cubic feet per minute (cfm) your compressor needs to blow out the zone. Otherwise, just rent a 10-cfm compressor and hose from your local tool rental center.
Set the compressor air pressure regulator to a maximum of 80 psi for rigid PVC pipe systems, or 50 psi for flexible black polyethylene pipe. Then turn off the water supply and set the system timer to open just one zone. Next, open the manual drain valve at the end of that zone (if equipped).
Close off both valves on the backflow preventer. Then remove the plug on the blow-out port and screw in a quick-connect hose adapter. Snap on the air hose and connect the other end to the compressor (see photo). Then blow out the line. The heads should pop up and spit out water. Disconnect the hose as soon as they run dry.
Don’t overdo the blow-out—without water cooling the plastic gears, they can melt in less than a minute. So move on to the next zone and allow the heads to cool. Then go back and blow out each zone a second time.
Get Your Property Ready for Snow
Before the snow flies, take a few minutes to inspect your property. Remove rocks, dog tie-out cable, extension cords, holiday light cords and garden hoses. Then stake out paths that run near gardens so you don’t accidentally suck up rocks and garden edging. Mark your walk and driveway perimeters by pounding in driveway markers. If the ground is frozen, just drill a hole using a masonry bit and your battery-powered drill.
Set Up Reading Nook
There’s nothing quite like curling up with a good book on a cool afternoon. Find a sunny spot at home to set up a reading nook.
Prepare Your Fireplace
Clean Up Your Lawnmower and Other Yard Tools
Plus: Tune Up a Lawn Mower
Get Your Gutters Ready
Store Summer Toys
Check Exterior Caulking and Weatherstripping
Fall is the perfect time to make sure your house is properly caulked and your weatherstripping is in good shape. Inspect around windows, doors and anywhere else two materials meet to make sure the caulk is in good shape. Check weatherstripping around doors and replace if it’s broken or missing – it’s super easy to do.
Whether you have a source of wood on your property or need to purchase a cord or two, fall is a great time to spend cutting and chopping wood to burn in your fireplace all winter long. And if you’re using a chain saw, make sure to brush up on your safety knowledge before you hit the forest.
Install Frost-Proof Outdoor Faucets
New outdoor faucets are frost-proof and also prevent unsanitary water from contaminating your water system. Installing a new outdoor faucet takes just a few hours and will give you peace of mind all winter long. These other fall to-dos are a little less work and a lot more fun.
Drain Mechanical Sprinklers or Buy a New One in the Spring
Change Your Furnace Filter
Changing your furnace filter is one of the easiest things you can do to keep your furnace in good shape. If you haven’t changed it in a while, make sure you have a fresh one before your turn your furnace on for the first time.
Check Your Chimney or Risk a Fire
Don’t remember the last time you had it cleaned by a pro? A quick way to tell if your chimney needs cleaning is to run the point of your fireplace poker along the inside of your chimney liner. If you find a 1/8-in. layer (or more) of buildup, call a chimney sweep. For additional expert chimney maintenance advice, check out what two certified professional chimney sweeps have to say.
Deep Clean Rugs and Carpeting
Take advantage of one of those beautiful fall afternoons to give your rugs a deep clean. Take area rugs outside and give them a good shake (or a good whack), then give them a thorough vacuum with your shop vac. Don’t forget our interior carpets—you can rent a carpet cleaner and give your carpet a deep clean before you start hosting holiday gatherings.