Fall Overhaul

Fall Overhaul

Your Seasonal Home Maintenance Checklist

Autumn, with all the changing leaves and cooler temperatures, will soon be upon us. Personally I love this time of year—you may need a light jacket, but you can still drive a convertible with the top down. Here are some easy to-do items to get your place ready for the upcoming season, so it will be easy to break it down into weekend-sized chunks. 

With furnaces starting to get turned on, the windows closed and portable heaters humming along, fall is a great time to make sure your smoke and carbon monoxide (CO) detectors are working. As annoying as those test beeps are, replacing those batteries will keep you and your family safe.

Fall is a good time to wash the outside windows, because the summer’s direct sun can make windows dry streaky. Use a squeegee to get a professional result. If you have newer windows, you may be able to unlock and tip them inwards to clean them easily.

If you want the best lawn in town, they say you should fertilize four times a year. But you can keep it simple and still have a great lawn if you only fertilize once—in the fall. Ask an expert at your garden center for advice about the best fertilizer blend for your grass type and soil conditions. Apply the fertilizer about three weeks before the last mowing of the season. Fertilizing in the fall provides energy and nutrients for the grass roots as they multiply in cooler weather before the grass goes dormant.

Get out that rake and remove all of those dead leaves before winter comes. Remove any branches or other debris from around landscaping and house foundation. Dead wet leaves will decompose and become sodden mats in the spring and smother the sprouting grass below. Plus it’s a lot easier to rake dry leaves. As a bonus, this is a great family activity, too. Just this one time of the year, set your mower to cut 1-1/2” or 2” and mow your grass short. That’ll do a couple of things: first, it’ll lessen the chance of snow mold forming, and second, tall grass blades won’t lie down and smother the new grass next spring.

Yes, I’ll own up to it: I sometimes neglect to drain garden hoses before putting them away for the winter. Usually it’s not a problem. But every once in a while, freezing water splits a hose open. I’ve lost a few cheap hoses this way and a super-expensive one (ouch!). It’s easy to avoid this headache because draining hoses is quick and easy: either blast out the water with an air compressor or stretch them out on a sloped yard or driveway so they can drain fully before coiling them and putting them away.

Did you know that 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. Also, be sure to change ceiling mounted filters if your HVAC system has those in areas of your home. Locate where they all are, and make a note of the sizes.  They may be different sizes based upon where they’re located.  If you or a family member are prone to allergies, check the MERV rating (Minimum Efficiency Ratings Value)—the higher the number, the more efficient they are at removing particulates from the air.

3 Outside Items to Not Overlook

Those beautiful autumn leaves can create big problems for you come winter if you don’t empty those gutters! Clogged gutters can cause leaks, wood rot, and more.  Whether you do it yourself or hire it out, don’t put off this important task.

Before that urge to light a fire comes, the Chimney Safety Institute of America recommends you keep away soot build-up and have periodic inspections. If your home has a wood burning fireplace, it’s important to have it inspected at least once a year by an expert.

Cut back dead branches, especially those hanging over your house. In stormy, windy, or icy weather, these could fall and potentially cause damage and injury.  If you’re not sure what should be done, consult a professional arborist to do an annual review of your property.

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