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Zillow Real Estate

Bob Vila’s November ‘must do’ projects

By Bob Vila

The Halloween decorations have been cleared out, and there’s a chill in the air — must be time to get ready for winter! This is the month to winterize your yard, celebrate the colors of the season and get ready for the big holiday meal to come.

Autumn kitchen

Embrace the season

It doesn’t take much to bring the natural beauty of the season indoors. Fill a bowl with acorns and pinecones to admire, cut leaf-covered branches to decorate a table or create an autumnal wreath to hang above the mantel — or outside on the front door. You’ll find plenty of clever ideas in “Budget Decor: 10 Ways to Dress Up Your House for Fall.”

Seal those drafts

A small crack or one leaky window might not seem like a big problem, but taken together, your home’s small drafts can add up to a lot of wasted energy dollars. Seal any gaps around electrical outlets, ducts, windows and doors with foam sealants, caulking or weather stripping.

On the outside of your house, use caulking to seal anywhere different materials meet such as between the siding and the chimney, window and door frames and at the foundation. Even small gaps around cables, lighting fixtures, spigots, electrical outlets, dryer vents and air-conditioning pipes can add up to big air-infiltration problems and compromise your home’s thermal efficiency.

To fill large gaps, expandable polyurethane foam works best, but use it sparingly since it can over-expand (and it’s a greenhouse gas producer as well). Water-based expandable foam works well in small cracks and won’t over-expand.

Winterize your yard

If you haven’t done so already, this is the time to winterize your seasonal equipment. Drain fuel from lawn mowers, leaf blowers and chain saws. Cover and store outdoor furniture and barbecues in a protected area. And, be sure to empty out pots, containers and planters, as soil left in clay pots outside can freeze and cause the pots to crack.

Disconnect and store your garden hoses. If your home has a separate shutoff for external spigots, turn it off and drain the water from those spigots. If you have a sprinkler system, you may want to call in a professional company to blow out any leftover water in the underground lines.

If it snows where you live, check to see that all of your snow equipment is close at hand, fueled up and ready for use. That includes snow blowers as well as shovels and roof rakes.

Stress less on Thanksgiving day

Did somebody mention turkey? If you are the one preparing the big meal, make your life easier by planning ahead. Clear countertops and empty the fridge so that you have ample space for food prep and storage. If you are worried about getting everyone around the table, look for ways to maximize your dining room.


Bob Vila is the home improvement expert widely known as host of TV’s This Old House, Bob Vila’s Home Again, and Bob Vila. Today, Bob continues his mission to help people upgrade their homes and improve their lives with advice online at His video-rich site offers a full range of fresh, authoritative content – practical tips, inspirational ideas, and more than 1,000 videos from Bob Vila television.

Note: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinion or position of Zillow.

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