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Ultimate Guide To Fall Yard And Home Maintenance
Many people have more time on their hands at home because of the pandemic, so this may be the perfect opportunity to start a to-do list and knock off some of those must-accomplish fall chores. Follow these tips for a successful lawn, garden, and home care and maintenance in preparation for that first frost and beyond.
Lifestyles are moving Indoors
The beginning of autumn in many parts of the country spells the time for seasonal transition, moving our entertainment and lifestyle more indoors. Now’s the time for homeowners to store outdoor furniture and other gear for the winter, deflate and store any pool toys, move plants indoors, and prep, maintain, and repair in anticipation of cooler temperatures.
It’s time to book service appointments before you need your fireplace or heater to make sure everything is in good working order. In addition to professional servicing, we have some easy maintenance tips you can do yourself to make sure you’re getting your yard, garden, and home ready for winter.
Some states start experiencing their first frost dates in early October, so these homeowners will want to use September to begin their annual frost, wind, rainstorm, and winter protection tasks. Before the weather gets too cold, schedule time to clean and repair gutters, along with any needed roof repairs, chimney, or siding maintenance or fixes. We’ll walk you through some of the most important tasks to spend time on during the next month or two.
Why Get Your Home Ready for Fall and Winter?
Why bother spending all the time and expense of working on your home and yard during the fall? Spending a little time and effort now can save you from surprises, like burst pipes and fallen, ice-filled gutters. Some steps taken now can save money in repairs later, during a more inconvenient time.
If you need professional services for your home or property, now is a great time to schedule them. Consider booking a tune-up of your furnace system now, before servicemen are overloaded with appointments for repair as the cold weather challenges heating systems. You’ll be warm and toasty, thankful you didn’t procrastinate.
Winter-Prep Tasks You’ll Need to Do This Fall
Getting your property ready for winter may seem daunting at first, but you can break down the tasks into manageable chunks of time and effort. You won’t have to accomplish them all in one weekend. Many homeowners prefer to start prep work outside and then move to the home’s interior projects as temperatures dip.
Inside Fall Maintenance
Don’t neglect the inside of your home when you’re prepping for fall and winter. Check and replace batteries (if applicable) of carbon monoxide alarms and smoke alarms and inspect your fire extinguishers to make sure they’re still viable. Make sure all family members know where fire extinguishers are kept.
Check for air leaks and potential heat loss within the home. Unwanted drafts can lead to a more expensive heating bill over the winter, so use these tips to get started.
- Locate air leaks: check for air drafts behind outlets, around windows and doors, and behind recessed lights. Other areas to check are your ventilation system and fireplace chimneys.
- Check attics and basements: these spaces are typical problem areas for energy loss. Inspect these areas for loss of air, insulation, or other issues like mold. Dirty insulation is often a sign of air leakage.
- Seal leaks: Properly sealing against air leaks will help your heating costs in check.
Don't spread the pandemic with more sinks and bathrooms!
With Saniflo you can turn a closet into a modern full or half bathroom
An inexpensive way to create a new bathroom in your home is to renovate an under-used closet into a new powder room. This can be easily accomplished using the Sanicompact system from Saniflo, a self-contained macerating toilet system which is used to create half-bathrooms in areas of the home where space is limited and in which no below-floor drainage exists.
The Sanicompact is installed on top of your existing floor and is capable of pumping wastewater vertically. Its modern, tankless design make it ideal for tight spaces, and a second inlet in the back of the unit allows you to add a sink connection as well. If you’re handy and have some basic plumbing experience, you don’t even need to call a plumber. All you need is access to a water line, an electrical outlet, and some basic tools.
Schedule Air Conditioner or Heating Tuneup
Just as your air conditioner works hard during the summer, your heater labors during the colder months to keep you comfortable. Nip any future problems in the bud by scheduling a fall checkup for your heating system. Ask your repair professional to check for acidic condensate, any air leaks and/or heat loss. Make any repairs needed now, and not in frigid temperatures later on when furnace repair professionals are in more demand.
Acidic Condensate may not sound like an important issue to worry about.... Till you realize modern air conditioning systems and heating systems have been developed to be meet the needs and demands – creating highly efficient condensate pumps for the highly efficient air conditioners and heating systems.
If they are so efficient, why are they a problem? - The condensing technology saves energy by maximizing the amount of heat energy transferred to the water during the combustion process. A by-product or result of this high-efficiency process is water, or condensate, that tends to be acidic because of the chemical reaction caused by the heat of the gas burner. The higher the efficiency rating, the higher the acid level in the water runoff.
If this runoff drains through a home’s or a building’s plumbing system, piping could corrode over time. Pumping the waste outdoors or into sanitary sewers could contaminate the groundwater or degrade the local water infrastructure. For homes with septic tanks, condensate waste might also destroy the good bacteria that is essential to keeping the system operating properly. This is why we recommend the Sanicondens Best Flat - a neutralizing condensate pump for heaters, boilers, and AC's.
All condensate pumps should be installed with a neutralizing filter or neutralizer when connected to any high efficiency, condensing boilers or furnaces to overcome condensate damage.
“Many times, condensate cannot drain adequately via gravity, usually because the application lacks conventional, below-floor drainage,” explains Saniflo CEO Regis Saragosti. “This problem can cause property damage or even create health hazards by adversely affecting indoor air quality.”
Ready your Fireplace for Winter
Your fireplace should be a source of warmth and comfort, not a danger hazard. Unfortunately, every year thousands of people (including children) are seriously injured by fires. Some 14,000 house fires each year originate in the fireplace, so the more you know how to maintain your fireplace (and safely use it) the better. Fireplace safety tips include:
- Have your fireplace inspected each year by a professional, especially if your fireplace is wood burning
- Clear the area around the hearth and make sure it’s free of flammable materials
- Use only seasoned hardwood—softwood creates more creosote buildup
- Always use a screen around the fireplace to catch sparks
Fertilize and Feed Your Lawn
Fall is a great season to feed your cool-season lawn, but warm-season grasses are going dormant and won’t require fertilization until the spring. Cool-season grasses use the fall months to recover from the heat and growth of the summer and may need a good dose of nitrogen. The exact fertilization requirements should be determined by conducting a soil test to see what nutrients the soil is lacking. Making sure your lawn has what it needs to stay healthy and weed-free is important, especially if you desire a nice green lawn next spring and summer.
Mow and Edge
Cool-season grasses are still growing in the fall months but probably won’t require as much mowing or edging compared to the summer months. Your cool-season lawn may just need mowing once every couple of weeks during fall. Warm-season lawns become dormant in the fall and winter months and stop growing so they won’t require mowing or edging. So, you can look forward to winterizing your lawnmower and edger and then taking a break from mowing until spring.
Weed and Pest Control
Cool and warm season grasses usually don’t require traditional weed or pest control in the fall months. However, cool-season grasses are sometimes susceptible to moss, so fall may be a good time of year to apply moss killer. This can also be done in the spring.
Prepare your Flower Beds and Garden
Along with lawn care, you’ll want to prepare your flower beds and garden for winter. This will include cleaning out rotted, dead, and dying plants. You’ll also want to remove invasive weeds, helping ensure they won’t return in the spring and work on your compost pile. Tend to plants, especially delicate flowers like roses. Read how to winterize your roses here. Preparing your soil for spring, adding nutrients, and planting cover crops in your garden (if you choose) should also be on your to-do list. Prune perennials (plants that will survive winter) and divide and plant bulbs for the following spring. Make sure your hoses have been drained of water, too.
Don’t forget to mulch. Mulching helps retain moisture around plants, but it also protects your soil from erosion and keeps down weed growth. During fall and winter, mulch helps insulate the ground and roots from fast freezes and thawing. As a bonus, in the spring, mulch breaks down into organic material for natural fertilizer benefits.
Don’t forget to bring in container plants that have enjoyed your back deck, porch, or yard. Make sure they’re bug-free. Then, enjoy cheerful greenery during those gray, chilly winter days. Indoor plants not only help clean your indoor air, but they can also lift your mood while adding a peaceful, natural ambiance to your interior decor.
Repairs to Exterior of your Home
Take advantage of cooler, comfortable weather to maintain and repair the exterior of your home. Examine and repair wood or vinyl siding, and look for cracks in concrete, brick, and other exterior materials. Seal up holes in soffits and fascia. You may also need to do an exterior home cleaning with a pressure washer.
Examine and clean your roof and gutters. Inspect your roof to make sure it can withstand the weight of snow and ice if you’re in a colder climate. Replace any missing shingles, and make sure the flashing on your roof is in good shape. If flashing needs repairs, arrange that or, if you have skills in that area, tackle it yourself.
Take stock of your outdoor lighting and change bulbs if needed. It will be much easier to change bulbs now than when there’s ice or snow on the ground.
Make sure steps and porch handrails are in good working condition and sturdy since you may rely on them more during icy, snowy weather. Make repairs to walkways that may become hazardous with winter weather. If you have any vegetation blocking security camera views, trim those back.
If you live in a northern climate, check the insulation around your pipes before cold weather arrives. Exposed pipes in unheated spaces or near exterior walls can freeze and then burst, flooding your home. This can-do extensive damage to your house and requires significant time out of your home and expensive professional restoration. Making sure pipes are insulated can help prevent this. Foam pipe sleeves are easy to install, and you can also use pipe wrap. You can also add wall insulation, use faucet covers on your outdoor spigots, and insulate the space where pipes go through walls.
After you’ve addressed insulation for your pipes, take a look at the insulation under your home and in the attic. Adding or upgrading your insulation is another great way to ensure your home is operating efficiently this winter and can help reduce your monthly heating bills.
Make a List
Having a running list of fall-prep maintenance and repair tasks may help you keep on top of everything you need to accomplish during the weekends or when you have time available. For instance, your list may look like this:
- Lay mulch for winter frost prep
- Trim back flowering plants like lavender
- Prune trees and shrubs near your house
- Winterize lawn equipment
- Schedule home cleaning
- Project idea: Can or preserve garden edibles
- Repair exterior siding as necessary
- Prep and clean fireplace
- Check for air leaks in the attic and basement
- Clear roof and gutters from leaves
- Schedule maintenance or repairs from professionals
- Hire a heating service professional to assess your home’s potential heat loss
- Schedule a chimney sweep to inspect the fireplace and ensure safety
Do it Yourself or Hire a Pro?
Are you a do-it-yourselfer, or would it make more sense to hire a professional for some of the winter prep jobs? Consider the value of your time and the expertise of someone else. Are you working too many hours to can’t comfortably spend the time needed for the repair or maintenance? Do you have the tools? The skills? If not, maybe it’s time to call in the professionals for a job well done.
Prepare Now for Peace of Mind Later
As you snuggle up in front of your fireplace this winter, warm and cozy, you’ll be glad you spent some extra time preparing your home this fall. A little work this fall repairing and maintaining your yard and home will result in an abundance of peace of mind later. With preventive maintenance, you will have cut down on the chances of frantically searching for—and waiting for—an emergency furnace repairman or trying to find someone to fix your fallen gutters in freezing weather. Instead, you’ll enjoy your warm home and look forward to each season’s delights and challenges.
Originally posted on Porch.com