Fall clean-up — a few projects you should add to your list

by Paul Bianchina

Well, you can’t deny it any longer — it’s fall. And that means that winter is just around the corner, so now is the ideal time to be getting yourself ready for the cold months ahead. To get you started, here are a few things to put on the list.

• Check the gutters: Fall is the ideal time to check your gutter and downspout systems. Clear the gutters of leaf and pine needle debris, and check that the opening between the gutter and the downspout is unobstructed.

Look for loose joints or other structural problems with the system, and repair them as needed using pop rivets. Use a gutter sealant to seal any connections where leaks may be occurring.

• Drain sprinkler systems: In colder areas, now is the time to be thinking about having your sprinkler and irrigation systems blown out. You can rent a compressor and do this yourself, or contact a landscape or irrigation system installer and them handle this for you.

This is also the time to shut off outdoor faucets and install freeze-proof faucet covers as needed.

•          Check the fireplace: It’s about time to get those logs burning, so get the fireplace ready! Clean the fireplace chimney or wood stove flue using brushes approved for the size and type of flue you have. If you’re not partial to ladders, roofs and soot, this is a good project to leave to an experienced chimney sweep company — most do a great job at a very reasonable price.

Clean out the firebox, making sure you place the ashes in a fireproof container with a tight lid for proper disposal. If you have an airtight wood stove or fireplace insert, check the door-seal gasket, and clean the glass on the door.

•          Change your furnace filters. Replace your old furnace filter with a new one. While you’re at it, check the furnace for worn belts, lubrication needs, or other servicing that might be required, refer to your owner’s manual for specific suggestions, and follow any manufacturer safety instructions for shutting the power and fuel to the furnace before servicing.

•          Clean your ducts: Now is also a great time to clean your furnace ducts. If it’s been a while since that’s been done, hire a professional duct cleaning service to handle this chore. If you’ve had it done within the last couple of years and you’ve been good about changing your filter, then all you should need to worry about is removing the register covers and vacuuming out the boots with shop vacuum.

•          Handle those yard chores: Many plants require pruning this time of year, and lawns should be fertilized with a fall/winter fertilizer to feed them through the winter and get them ready for a fast green-up when spring returns.

• Close off foundation vents (homes without basements): You’ll want to be thinking about closing off your foundation vents to help prevent pipe freezes. You can leave the foundation open for as many months as the weather remains mild, but close them off when the local forecasts begin calling for freezing temperatures. Once closed, you can leave them that way until it warms up again in the spring.

• Pack up the patio: Check and clean patio furniture and put them away for the winter. Clean and cover removable furniture cushions to protect them from dust and dirt, but be sure the cushions are dry before storing in order to prevent mildew growth.

• Add a humidifier: Plagued with dry skin, cracking furniture, or maybe even an occasional nose bleed? Winters are dryer than summers, and closing ourselves up indoors with furnaces and especially wood-burning appliances going full blast will dry you and your house out in a hurry. You might want to think about adding a central humidifier to your forced air heating system, or simply setting up one or two portable units in key areas of the house such as the living room or bedroom.

• Check weatherstripping: Air leaks around doors and windows can rob your home of expensive heated air and create uncomfortable drafts that keep you feeling chilly. Check the weatherstripping around doors and windows, and replace any that are worn — retailers who specialize in doors and windows can fix you up with the proper replacement type for your situation. Now is also a good time to close up a few more air leaks by checking the condition of caulking around exterior door and window frames.

— Inman News.