Fall Maintenance Tips

 

Because seasonal home maintenance chores only need to be completed once or twice a year, many homeowners struggle to remember them all. However, your home is probably your single most valuable investment, so paying careful attention to your its maintenance is absolutely necessary.

If you’re a new homeowner, the sudden responsibility may be especially daunting. Remember that you don’t have to be able to complete each item on this list all on your own! It’s perfectly reasonable to hire professionals to tackle any job that seems too complicated or will absorb too much of your time.

This fall, begin the tradition of spending a little extra time ensuring your home runs smoothly all year long. Choose a few weekends to complete these tasks between now and the height of fall, and head into the holiday season confident that you’ve taken great care of your home.


Outside Your Home

Fall is the perfect time for certain gardening tasks. This is the right time to get those perennials in the ground; hydrangeas and peonies, for example, are meant to be planted now. Trees and shrubs also do well when they’re planted in the cool of early fall. Reseed your lawn, water your plants before they move into their dormant phase, and plant bulbs as long as the ground hasn’t frozen in your area yet.

Consider hiring an arborist to give your trees a bit of TLC. They may need dead limbs removed, a shot of fungicide, or special nutrients that will give them the right start in the spring. If you’re a tree enthusiast, you may be the right person to tackle this job on your own; otherwise, schedule an appointment with the tree doctors in your area.

Fall is the season of leaves, and if you’re one of those homeowners who’s lucky enough to have beautiful trees surrounding your home, you’re probably very aware of the giant piles of leaves you’ll be raking up soon.

But before you gather up all the leaves and toss them in your yard waste bin, consider the advice of Michigan State University researchers who reported that leaving a thin layer of mulched leaves under your trees and shrubbery will provide the plants with a warm layer over their roots, protecting them from the harsh winter frost. Your plants will take nourishment from the leaves as long as you continue to mow over them with a mulching blade about once a week.

Before the late fall rains begin, set up a sturdy ladder and clean the leaves out of your gutters. Skipping this task will leave your roof, walls, and foundation susceptible to water damage. If you’re not confident on a ladder, you’ll need to hire someone; it’s not advisable to postpone this task.

If you plan to get up on that ladder, inspect your roof. If you see any small beginnings of shingles curling or tiles cracking, have these areas repaired before the weather shifts toward winter. Annual inspections and repairs will help extend the life of your roof, potentially saving you thousands over the long term.

Inspect your windows, doors, and outdoor-adjacent outlets to make sure no cold air or water can seep through. Seal gaps with caulking or weather stripping where appropriate. Eliminating drafts will help keep your house warm and lower your heating bill.

Make sure water is draining away from your home’s foundation. Having water pool around your home through winter could be potentially devastating, so it’s better to check now before the weather gets nasty.

If you have hard water in your area, this is the time to drain your water heater to remove hard water sediment from the bottom of the tank. Sediment will make your tank have to work harder and may even lodge itself in the water heater in such a way that impedes the flow of hot water.

If you have a wooden deck, power wash it and apply a weather-resistant sealant.


Inside Your Home


Vacuum your furniture. If you have upholstered couches or chairs, this is the right time to get rid of that layer of dust that gathered during the dry summer months.

Clean out your dryer’s exhaust vent and tubing. Lint that has accumulated here is much more prone to catching fire during the dry chill that’s just around the corner. Ask any firefighter and you’ll find that skipping this task is one of the leading causes of house fires today, so if you’re going to skip a few items on this list, don’t choose this as one of them.

Replace and test the batteries in every smoke and CO2 detector. This is another task that should be completed twice a year; linking it to the time change every spring and fall may help you remember to complete these checks promptly.

Clean out underneath and behind your refrigerator and stove. Go ahead and take a look under there. That’s why it’s got to be cleaned out at least twice a year. Vacuum out dust from the coils, nooks, and crannies and mop the floor while the appliances are pulled away from the wall.

Dust your ceiling blade fans, blinds, shades, and light fixtures. The minute you switch off your fan on that first cool day, you’re going to want to clean those blades thoroughly. While you’re at it, clean any blinds, shades and light fixtures throughout your home. Wash your curtains or have them dry cleaned.

Shampoo your carpets or have them professionally cleaned. This needs to be done twice a year, so mark your calendar this fall and coming spring.

Replace your furnace filters before you crank up the heat for the first time. Doing so will help reduce the level of allergens in your home and help your furnace run more efficiently.

Make sure your fireplace is clean and in good shape. Make sure the cover is over your chimney so that no little critters try to take refuge there when the weather gets rough.

If you’ll be baking this holiday season, activate your oven’s self-clean setting first. While it works, perform a maintenance check on your range hood fan and filters. If grease is left here, it can create a fire hazard.

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