Fall Prep — Indoor & Outdoor Home Maintenance Tips

Your dream home is a major investment, so taking the time to make sure you are doing your periodic maintenance checks, especially before the weather turns too cool and there is still some sunny weather, is a great idea to save you time and money in the long run. We may even have a tip or two that wasn’t immediately top of mind as well as some handy reminders!

Clean Gutters & Install Gutter Guards
We know, out-of-sight-out-of-mind, right? Flip the script on this easily-avoided chore and take the time to install gutter guards. These easy-to-install devices will save you time and energy in the future. Most gutter guards snap into place; while they aren’t a set-it-and-forget-it fix, they cut the time dramatically.

Trim Trees & Bushes
Outdoor chores are way more enjoyable before the temperatures drop too far. With a hand saw or trimmers, work through the trees and shrubs to remove any branches or twigs that appear dead, dying, broken or unstable. Next, cut out small or medium-sized branches growing across each other, back toward the trunk or at a downward angle. These can all turn hazardous through the fall and winter storms. Consider hiring a professional tree-trimmer to take care of very tall trees. They have the proper, heavy-duty equipment needed to do a safe and proper job.

Clear & Mulch Exterior Garden Planters
We have all fallen in love with plant life and how having green spaces around our homes has made our areas so much happier and more enjoyable. These outdoor spaces do require a little extra love and attention before the temperatures fall. First, look at how everything grew and identify which will have to be brought in (like herbs) and may have outgrown their space and need to be divided and relocated. This is also the perfect time to replace any summer annuals with winter flowers. Remove dead plants and clean up and around these areas to prep for laying down a nice, even layer of mulch. Mulch insulates your greenery, making it easier for plants to retain heat when temperatures drop.

Aerate & Reseed Your Lawn
If you are looking to lay down some cool-season grasses like rye or fescue, now is the time. If that’s not in the cards, this is still the optimal time to aerate and reseed your lawn for the following spring. Believe it or not, planting seeds in the fall and winter will give your grass seed more of an opportunity to germinate, developing a better root system that allows a better effect come spring.

Clean & Store Patio Furniture & Grill
It may seem early to clean and put away the outdoor furniture, but all good things must come to an end … of their season, that is. To avoid any unnecessary weathering that would shorten their lifespan, put patio items away. Begin by removing any cushions, spray them down and do a thorough wipe down with a wet rag before storing them in a cool, dry place. The same goes for your well-loved grill. Start by cleaning the inside cooking area with a metal brush, wiping clean and then coating with a thin layer of cooking spray to prevent rust. Wipe down the exterior with a damp rag, dry and cover. Always consult the owner’s manual for exact storage direction.

Check Windows & Doors
Experts suggest using incense to hold around door and window seals. If the smoke whirls around instead of rising straight up, that’s evidence of an air leak. Take this opportunity to install or replace weatherstripping around doors, windows and even around air conditioning units if there isn’t already good weatherstripping in place. This will help prevent cold air from entering the home, saving you anywhere from 5% to 20% in energy costs. This project is pretty easy to complete yourself; just make sure to measure the areas that will require weather stripping so that you don’t fall short on supplies.

Clean the Chimney & Fireplace
This isn’t a task for the faint of heart. Only attempt to DIY this if you are very comfortable with heights, love prolonged physical labor, have some experience and are patient. We suggest hiring a chimney sweep to clear out excess debris. They are experts and have the proper tools and you will support a small business. Regardless, checking this chore off your list can help prevent potential chimney fires, damage to your fireplace and ensure fireplace efficiency throughout the season.

Reverse Your Ceiling Fans
Few ceiling fans don’t have a reverse, so double check. Make sure the blades are at a complete stop before attempting to switch your fan into reverse. You can locate the switch or pull the string on the body of the fan motor. This quick change will produce an updraft and push down the warm air from the ceiling (because hot air rises). If you have high ceilings, this can be especially helpful and might even allow you to turn your thermostat down for more significant energy savings.

Door Lock Maintenance
If you live in an area used to freezing temperatures and/or just want to prevent locks from sticking, take a minute to spray exterior door locks with powdered-graphite lubricant (less smelly than other lubricants). This will help keep them from sticking and freezing, especially in extreme cold. Extra credit for giving your car door locks a quick spray, too.

Clean Dryer Vents
It’s a scary statistic, but clogged dryer vents are among the most common causes of home fires. Our clothes dryers are some of the hardest working machines in the house, so it’s only fair to give them a little TLC. With a dryer vent brush (usually available at your local hardware store), sweep both sides of the dryer screen surface and inside the tube. This will clear up any lint build-up and often will help drastically reduce your energy bill and improve your unit’s lifetime value.

Change Out HVAC Filter
A dirty HVAC filter is an easy fix to reduce wear on your unit and prevent it from overworking and driving the bill up. The filter will turn a light brown color and, if not changed regularly, can also lead to health concerns. An easy fix is to swap these filters out with new ones every season change to proactively maintain your heating and cooling system. This ensures the air in your home is clean, especially when it’s more comfortable to have all the windows and doors closed.

Dust Refrigerator Condenser Coils
Most of the difficulty of this seasonal chore is the moving of the refrigerator. After that, it’s an easy little dusting job. Dirty condenser coils can shorten the life of one of your most expensive appliances, but with an easy fix that only takes you pulling your refrigerator away from the wall and wiping the coils down them with a dry dust cloth and giving the whole area a quick sweep, you will be done in a flash.

Flush Hot Water Heater
Hot water is a luxury none of us want to go without, especially during the cooler months. Taking care of this hard-working appliance is essential and easy once you have done it a few times. (It can also be delegated to a professional because it is a detailed process.) Research how to handle this on your unit, because each has its own best practices, or as mentioned before, an expert is always a quick call away to help with routine maintenance.

Pipe Prep
Pipes located in areas without proper insulation, like basements or attics, could probably use some extra insulation to keep from freezing. It’s better to do this chore way before the freezing comes; weather like that tends to keep a homeowner busy enough. Fitting with foam rubber or fiberglass sleeves can help decrease the chances of your pipes freezing. Extra insulation can be an easy solution for exposed pipes. Adding insulation to walls and ceilings can also work to keep the pipes warm. Insulation keeps a pipe close to the water temperature inside the pipe. Quick note, insulation won’t stop the pipe from freezing in freezing temperatures for a prolonged time.

Checking Your Sump Pump
This is definitely a device basement owners don’t want to fail in the fall or winter months. Luckily, even though it is not a chore people talk about, it’s an easy one. First, make sure your outlet to your sump pump provides power to the pump; then you will just need to double-check that the pump itself is working correctly. You can do this by locating your pump’s float, gently pull it up for a max of three seconds, just to where you can hear the pump kick on by beginning to hum.

As you will find, there are plenty of things you can do to proactively take care of your home in any season. And taking the extra time to work smarter for your home will ensure you can truly enjoy the beautiful fall and winter seasons without hardly a worry.

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