Tomorrow marks the first day of fall, but already a chill is in the morning air. Leaves have begun their annual transformation which means hardwood trees will soon be basking in their autumnal glory, as dogwoods, bittersweet and black gums turn first followed by ashes, elms, oaks, maples and hickories.
While nature is in the process of change, homeowners should be too. At least twice annually – first in the spring and again in the fall – it is a good idea to survey your property to see what sort of tasks need to be completed before the next season rolls in. Both summer and winter can be the most challenging seasons for your home as contrasting heat and cold weather take hold.
Projects For The Fall
I like to start my spring projects in March and my fall projects in September, well before heat or cold makes these jobs a “chore” to complete. By Thanksgiving, my home is winter ready which means over the coming weeks I’ll be puttering around to ensure that the following tasks are accomplished:
Gutters – This project is the one I typically put off until last, depending when the last of the leaves have finished falling. However, I always inspect my gutters before fall to make sure that they are clear and freed of standing water or debris. That way, when the leaves do begin to drop, my gutters won’t be filled to overflowing. After a good clean out, I hose everything down and make sure that the downspouts are clear too.
Roof – No one should be on a roof when it is icy and cold, for obvious reasons – slip and you could be in for some serious trouble. Check now to make sure that all of your shingles are in place and that chimneys, bathroom and laundry vents, and skylights are sealed.
Siding – Whether painted or using vinyl or aluminum siding, you’ll want to make sure that everything is in place before winter’s fury hits. Plug up gaps with caulk, touch up paint, consider a complete repainting if needed (professional rates generally drop in the fall).
Windows, Doors – So much air can leak in/out of your doors and windows. Make sure that seasonal screens are replaced; seal cracks if found. Replace aged weather stripping, cracking caulk or broken trim.
Air Conditioning — Window units need to be removed or covered over until the next cooling season. Tip: You’re better off removing these units as it can prove much more difficult to cover them up then remove them.
Furnace – An annual inspection of your heating system is in order. While you can replace filters and check for leaks and signs of wear and tear yourself, a qualified professional should be called in to replace pipes, hoses, belts, etc.
Hot Water Heater – Some hot water heaters are maintenance free, with no filters to replace. Others may still require you to drain out sediment that will collect at the bottom of the tank. Your unit should have come with instructions on what is expected of you. Draining a heater is a simple task.
Fireplace – I don’t use my fireplace, but if I did I would make sure to have it cleaned professionally for the simple reason I don’t have the tools handy to clean it. Then again, who wants to bother with soot? Not me. Anyway, a chimney professional can clean your chimney and also detect problems such as loose mortar that you may not see yourself. Certainly worth the investment!
Smoke Alarms – Back during the time when clocks moved forward and back at six month intervals, it was easy to remember when to inspect your smoke alarms. But, that’s all changed as “time change” occurs more closely together. Still, make it a point to replace your batteries as well as inspect your carbon monoxide unit, fire extinguisher and your home alarm system.
Of course, I made no mention of outdoor projects beyond what is attached to your house, so you’ll need to remember to winterize your lawn mower, drain the pool, empty the bird bath, cover vulnerable plants, put away the toys and outdoor furniture, etc. Oh, by the way, after you’re done with all of that, make sure that your cars are ready for the worst of what winter has to offer too.
Are you tired yet?
Photo Credit: Horton Group
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